Paul Haeder, Author

writing, interviews, editing, blogging

I’m writing this as a reaction to the aftermath of a friendship — shortlived, at one month — extinguished over, well, socialism. An arugment over socialism and Jesus. Questions around what to do with the homeless. Or how to treat and deal with those rough sleepers as well as those homeless in a van and those about to be without a steady home?

I have not taken a vow of poverty, per se. In the end, I am a selfish writer, who just happened to be a selflish writer, teacher, actvisit and social worker over decades. I never wanted to have to wake up in the middle of the night worried about the law, about the IRS, about where the rent would be coming. I have had those feelings, and maybe even now, some of those feelings are certainly laughable compared to what people hitting the high seas wake up to, as they attempt to make it to UK or France, Italy or Greece, or other places, like the USA.

Just today:

“The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for dozens of migrants who are feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Florida Saturday. Five bodies have been found, while 34 people are still missing. One survivor was rescued earlier this week as he clung to the hull of the sinking boat, which had departed from the Bahamas.”

So, this fellow I have been involved with in a sort of fellowship, well, I guess I pushed him over the edge. I talked about what we can do to assist the homeless, and of course, that is part and parcel, what can we do to be mindful of us all.

I was riffing with the front page news here:

Newport officials’ hands are largely tied when it comes to problematic camping. A federal circuit court ruling that found criminalizing camping on public property, if other options are not available, violates the Eighth Amendment and a pair of bills passed by the state legislature effectively nullified many current provisions in Newport’s city code.

The Newport City Council is now working toward passing a new, compliant ordinance.

Employees at a Bayfront restaurant have lodged multiple complaints about an encampment on nearby public land, saying an occupant was stealing trash cans and creating a health hazard. There were two tarp tents next to the business, one in an adjacent grassy area and one in the parking lot. The latter was cleared, and the city posted a notice of nuisance littering on the former, advising that the site would be cleaned Jan. 25 (it had not been as of Jan. 26).

Nuisance-camping-2

I was not pushing the idea that these sorts of encampments are great, that the neighbors should be happy about them. The question is, “What can we do about it, about them?”

I live in a tourist community, one with great struggle, and the housing issue is huge. Yet, there are big homes, vacation homes, where people come for a month or two out of the year. There are huge gaps between those who have and those who do not. Then there are aging people with equity in their homes, and well, social security, and, hanging on. But there are so many older white people in this community who just are bitter. They pick one side of the messed up political theater, and then go for it. Pro-Trump this, Love Biden that. Bottom line, though, most are very very pro-pro capitalists, beyond sanity.

I confronted this Jesus-quoting friend with the idea that we need in Lincoln County more social services, more communty-based services, more ways to help even the most messed up, possiblly drunkest and drugged out dudes living on the streets, defecating in parking lots, and vandalizing. Am I for that? Nope. But this End Times friend went on and on how he knew some fellow in California who had more money in his bank account just by panhandling and scamming, who came off as homeless, even though this fellow had some flop from which he was renting and living.

Of course, the End Times fellow made the grand leap of, “there are plenty of people like that.”

Well, scammers and daylight thieves, of course there are countless ones in USA, and elsewhere. THIEVES of Capitalism. Millions. The One Percent, and their Eichmann’s. Even government bureaucrats. The biggest scam and rip off is perpetrated by the rich. From the car manufacturers, to the car salesmen, to the oil companies, the road builders. Until we live in a world where public transportation doesn’t work, or is for, perception all massaged by Mad Men, loosers. And, there are no army of real homeless scammers who panhandle by day, and live in luxury at night. They . . . do . . . not . . . exist . . . in . . . any . . . significant . . . numbers.

There are so many homeless, or those labeled “housing insecure,” that the true picture of how bad off we are now and going into the future, here, in USA, and then elsewhere, that would blow people away, if the mainstream media were to do the real job of journalism. Millions and millions, who are struggling. Many have been beaten down early by rapist fathers, drugging mothers, absolute horrific conditions. Cops, criminals, crass capitalism, exploitation, and just not enough love and no aunts and uncles doing the old magic of “it takes a village.” Many were born with cognitive issues tied to the bad gestation and epigenetics. Then, there goes reading and comprehension. Early, grade 1, and then things start slipping. Many are born with a hundred strikes against them. Beautiful children, Hallmark version children. But they are on a pathway to addiction, to dropping out, to not having the persistence to learn. The dream hoarders are not coming to the rescue, because, like my friend, taxation (what a poor thing, in capitalism, taxing to pay for war and to spend on the rich’s projects) is a dirty word.

Even this fellow, not a socialist, not one of the poor, and here we are, Brookings Institute. Not that I am a big fan of the rich and the elite and scholars talking about this issue or many hundreds without the real people who are the subjects of their work, at the table. Gee, the poor:

Capitalism does that — it eats the weak, poor, vulnerable. Capitalism makes money on the poor, on the masses, on those in precarity, now, in lockdown, and before.

But this fellow was mad, because I am not a believer, which he first liked about me before today’s conversation. Today, I had to say, we have to do big things to solve big issues, and that homeless rough sleepers, miscreants, even guys and gals who are petty criminals, dirt producing humanity, we have to do something. And having ordinances to remove them is not the answer.

The problem is that some people who believe in the tenets of Christ, or what have you, who do not like the temples or the churches, who see hypocrits everywhere in all the denominations, well, I agree with them. But I also know that believing that the climate crisis was foretold in the Old Testament, or that we are headed to a one world communist government, as foretold in the Bible, and that the wrath of God shall make today’s virus pandemic and floods and wildfires look like walks in the park, well, the issue for me is that, it is their Bible Born Belief System, but BBBS is, again, not transferable to some of us who believe life on earth is hell for many, but we have to do the work of, even if it is Sysiphis, attempting to solve the problems.

Yes, the cards have always been stacked against us. The issue is that Bible Thumpers, and those who want only the simple written down words of Jesus Christ and zero look at religions, and even great thinkers like MLK, Jr., or the Berrigans, or Tutu or Thick Nhat Hanh, they are disregarded by BBBS folk because the simple message of their Christ is that this life is nothing, and that there will be a New Jerusalem, a reckoning, and that this worldly life is just a step toward a new world, a forever world, one of purity. (source)

And so, while he knows I am not a religious person, not a god believer, or god follower, he said he liked my fellowship. It was just that I called him on the homeless scammers bullshit, and that we have to come together as a society to systemically work on all of the frayed safety nets. And I stated, that socialism — not Leninism, not Russian Soviet Unionism, or Chinese communism — is the only way forward. And he got made, stated that he worked 12 hour days, seven days a week, for years, selling cars, even telling me he missed out on spending time with his growing daughter, that he does not feel all that work means he has to give up all his stuff and live on the streets with the rest of them. That is what many think socialism is.

Even those like this fellow who professes he doesn’t consume the news, and tells me he and his wife have an agreement NOT to talk politics or religion, since she is a Marxist and not an End Times BBBS-er. Again, he was in California for years, around cars salesmen, around golfers, around rightwingers, who to this day would think his version of Christ and the next world is silly.

I was told, “Jesus wasn’t against making money. He was against those who used money certain ways.”

Again, what hedge fund would Jesus invest in? Which Pharma company wouldJesus invest in? Which company, Cargil or Bayer crop would Jesus invest in? Which water-sucking, pesiticide-loving golf course would Jesus golf on?

Would Jesus (not that I agree that he actually existed) be a socialist?

In Rendering Unto Caesar, Lawrence Reed, president emeritus of the libertarian-leaning Foundation for Economic Education, writes that Jesus was not a socialist in that he promoted voluntary giving and charity rather than the mandatory taking by government (taxes).

That is it, now, is it not? My friend decries the mega-churches, all the fancy trappings of pastors and priests, but he believes Jesus would be fine with multimillionaires and billionaires. So, you get the bucks doing this or that bad bad thing, but you then can give up, through charity, with voluntary giving, some of it for charity, and that’s fine. I disagree with that, but the problem is that anti-socialists have no concept of a world that is truly democratic, respectful of ecology, children, women, old and young, a world that is non-violent. These people who state they have no need for news, and hold the bible as their guide, well, they still are products of everything they reject. They are political, and they are sucked into their culture, their upbringings and their circumstances. I reminded him that social security is a type of socialism, but he states it is just something HE paid into, as if it was just a big bank accounty waiting for him.

I wish BBBS-ers would have discussions outside the very narrow frame of this Christ’s adages and sayings.

Here, “Father John Dear, longtime peace activist and former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, recalls the lives and impact of his close friends Thich Nhat Hanh and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who corresponded with him regularly. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world-renowned Buddhist monk, antiwar activist, poet and teacher, died Saturday at the age of 95, and South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Tutu died last month at the age of 90. Dear is the former director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which first brought Thich Nhat Hanh to the United States in the 1960s, and is now executive director of the Beatitudes Center.” (source)

OK, we’ve lost two giants in this last month: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh. I was so blessed to know both of them. And now we have to step up to the plate. You know? I knew that they gave every single day of their lives for peace and justice and creation, fearlessly. And they believed they could do this even when they were young. We have to do the same thing, and, as Tutu said, keep at it ’til the day we die. We need people who are committed to building a global movement of nonviolence for justice, disarmament and creation, the likes of which the world has never seen, way beyond Tutu and Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hanh, to save the planet. As Dr. King said, it’s no longer violence or nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. So, I hope people can take heart from these two great giants and step up to the plate and, you know, model peace and nonviolence in their personal lives and relationships, and go forward to build this movement to abolish war itself and racism and poverty and nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and bring about a new culture of peace and nonviolence. That’s the best thing we can do to remember them.

John Dear is an amazing fellow, still alive, talking of the power of the Vietnamese monk who just died:

See the source image
See the source image
Merton and Thich Nhat Hanho

And I got to know him through Daniel Berrigan and being the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. It was FOR, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, that brought Thich Nhat Hanh to the United States in 1966 on a speaking tour. And it was the genius of this great hero, an unknown peacemaker friend of ours, John Heidbrink, who recognized in him the greatest voice of peace coming from Vietnam. It was brilliant. And part of the tour, Heidbrink said, “I need to take him to meet the three most important religious leaders in the United States — Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton and Daniel Berrigan,” who were all intimately involved with the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

So, he does that. He takes Thich Nhat Hanh to meet Dr. King. I think they met in Chicago. And Dr. King was floored. You can read it in his speeches with — about Thich Nhat Hanh and statements later saying he basically had never met anybody like Thich Nhat Hanh, such a gentle monk. And don’t be fooled by Thich Nhat Hanh, because he was a person of steel. He was so solid. He was so strong and firm. And King recognized that immediately. And it’s hard to unpack the impact that Thich Nhat Hanh had on the United States and in mobilizing not just everybody, but these great figures, to really speak out for an end to the War in Vietnam, beginning with Martin Luther King, who held a press conference with him that day. They later met in Geneva. And Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, the only person Martin Luther King nominated for the Peace Prize. And they had breakfast together, and Thich Nhat Hanh said beautiful things to him. He said later that just being with Dr. King, not just the power of the great person’s rhetoric but in his ordinary humanity — he said, “Martin, you are a bodhisattva to the world,” which is an awakened Buddha. And no one had talked to Martin Luther King like that.

He had the same influence on Thomas Merton, who wrote an amazing statement, that “I am closer to” — this was in 1966. “I’m closer to Thich Nhat Hanh than most Americans, certainly most church people, including most of the monks in my monastery. Thich Nhat Hanh and I see things exactly the same way. Nhat Hanh is my brother.” Remember, he’s the enemy, Thich Nhat Hanh. We’re bombing and killing Vietnamese. And what people don’t know, and you heard it on the clip you played, but Thich Nhat Hanh knew 1,000 monks by name who were killed. Think about what that would do to you as a person, something that I always thought of when I was with him. — Father John Dear

See the source image

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12).

Well, which Bible quotes point to Jesus’ socialism? I don’t see any quotes pointing toward supporting monoplies, or oligarchies, military industrial complexes, or disaster capitalism. 6 Bible Quotes That Are Blatantly Socialist — Not that we need article after article on Jesus’ supposed modern day reflections, since he was in a very very different place, time and world, more than two thousand years ago.

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons — “Casting Out the Money Changers,” a painting by Giotto di Bondone from 1305

Here’s the full story behind this quote, which describes a famous scene that’s depicted in the painting above.

In a temple in Jerusalem, Jesus’s disciples had gathered to celebrate Passover. Merchants and money changers in the temple offered some commercial services. They sold doves to be sacrificed and offered to exchange money into the currency needed to pay temple dues.

But they didn’t do so in a way that Jesus considered ethical. They cheated customers, charged prohibitive fees, prioritized profit over ethics, swindled believers, and exploited the poor.

(According to scholars, these temple merchants also colluded with the aristocracy to profit off of poor people’s poverty — they charged interest when lending money from the wealthy to poor people who were in severe debt, thereby making enormous profits.)

Jesus was incensed that these merchants had the gall to turn the temple into what he called a “den of thieves.”

So he expelled them from the temple and literally turned the tables.

This event is regarded by scholars as being the catalyst that triggered his crucifixion. It convinced his enemies that he was a rabble rouser — he presented the danger of inciting revolutionary sentiment among the poor, exploited masses.

The story illustrates that Jesus held radical (i.e., socialist) ideas about the inherent dissonance between commerce and spirituality, and the exploitative nature of profit-making endeavors, such as charging interest, which he viewed as a grave sin.

I understand my friend’s position here on the coast. I understand how he feels life on earth is nothing, that the real blessing is in one master, Jesus Christ. I understand this friend’s background, and the torments he’s had, and that he seems to have some peace around this belief system. But, then, how do people like me interact, someone who, if I take some of the stuff face value, out of the “bible,” as socialistic, and then the true believer hates the word itself, and hates Marxism, how do I navigate that?

IN a big burst of anger, my friend slammed a DVD onto a parking lot, a DVD he was giving to me to look at. He was made, and, well, he moved on, got in his car, and drove off. My words, “Well, we are so different. We come from two entirely different worlds,” those seem okay but yes, harsh for someone trying to find fellowship with me, a man of this world, one embedded into all things around me, and unfortunately, those things are all tied to politics. Even the beaches I hike on and the plastic waste, or the Coast Guard, or the dogs crapping on the wrack lines. Or the smell of the paper mill in Toledo making it 25 miles south to my town. Yep, but I can absorb beauty in the stuggle for life, my own sanity, life itself, even those dirty, defecating, neighborhood-disrupting souls out there. Making the news.

What to do about . . . . fill in the blank______________________________. And, then, imagine that guy, that “son of god,” what he might do.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4).

Jesus: To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them (Luke 6:27).

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth (Matthew 6:24).

Jesus: I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23).

And, yes, And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12).

Liberation Theology in Latin America

Christian Socialism in which we talk about similarities and differences between the the teachings of Jesus and the ideals socialism espouses.

The Good News According to Matthew

The Plowshares Eight: Thirty Years On

Anti-war Christ

The Socialist Anti-War Tradition: Leading the Fight Against War and Imperialism

Dorothy Day’s granddaughter sentenced to prison for nuclear base break-in

The Sermon on the Mount: A Manifesto for Christian Anarchism

Charging Interest

The Challenge and Spirituality of Catholic Social Teaching

What Is the Meaning of “A Camel Going Through the Eye of a Needle”?

Thanks to, “Jesus would not approve of capitalism and our blind worship of billionaires” by Stephanie Leguichard

To reiterate: we are locked in the elite’s sick and perverted game of stealing from us all, and they defecate on us all, in countries, on farms, in towns and cities.

Let’s listen to Michael Hudson:

Michael Hudson: The Federal Reserve and Treasury painted the U.S. into a corner with its Quantitative Easing to save the banks and brokerage houses after 2008. The policy succeeded in supporting and even raising real estate prices, and providing arbitrage opportunities to borrow at low rates to buy higher-yielding stocks and bonds, vastly increasing the magnitude of financial wealth. This has been especially the case since the pandemic, creating an estimated trillion dollars in “capital gains” (including short term arbitrage) for the wealthiest One Percent.

What seemed to be the financial death trap was the prospect of rising interest rates ending the free lunch of interest-dividend arbitrage, and easy mortgage money. The threat was to reverse the asset-price run-up. We already are seeing that in recent weeks as stocks plunged to reflect the rise in Treasury bond rates.

But by now, 14 years after the Obama bailouts and QE rescue of insolvent banks, a new condition has emerged: a vast sum of private capital seeking to move out of the financial markets. Many of the most astute One Percent is taking their money and running – into private equity and real estate.

The result is that housing prices are soaring as private capital is out-bidding owner-occupant home buyers. While the latter face rising mortgage-interest rates, private capital finds the likelihood for both current rental income and capital gains to be a much better bet than the stock and bond market. The result will not be a decline in real estate prices, but a decline in home-ownership rates as a shift to rental housing occurs. The financial class is becoming the new absentee landlord class.

Lower stock prices will spur a similar private-capital wave of corporate takeovers, posturing as “rescuers” of the economy. The aim will be short-term asset stripping, of course (that is the business plan of private equity), but it will consolidate ownership in the hands of a financial elite. And to the extent that state and local budgets suffer from the downturn, sell-offs of public land and infrastructure also will transfer property and its rent-extracting opportunities into hands – not with borrowed credit but for all-cash, the cash that QE policy and tax favoritism has brought into being in the past 14 years.

So, to the extent that there are bankruptcies, this will have the usual result: consolidation and concentration of wealth ownership. The non-financial economy’s structure is being transformed – under the slogan of individualistic free markets.

For meat, eggs and other farm produce, the farmers are not receiving higher prices for their crops and produce. The middlemen are gouging out more fees for themselves, thanks to the monopoly position of Cargill et al.

We are on the brink of war because of Obama, Bush, Trump and Biden. Because of the elite. Because of neocons and neoliberals. Because of USA and Israel. Because of Zionists and Christian Zealots. Because of the Gilded Class. Because so many chosen people of the Ivy League, of the financial class, of the deep state look down on the 80 percent of the world (or maybe even some of themselves, part of the 99 Percent) look down on the world. So many of these elites, these leaders, are, in one sense, living out some awful end times themselves. But bringing it to us, in rapid fashion. They are not Jesus freaks, not lovers of Merton, never lovers of Day or Berrigan. They are the killers, the capitalists. And, yes, if you have an army, if you trade in the shekels of lords of war, if you are in it for the control, the space constellation of satellites, for the control of human agency, for gene editing and soul stealing, then, you are, I suppose, what Jesus, if he was a real guy, and if he was around, would be debating out in the open. Decrying. And, attacking.

But, here we are, discussing the “not real,” though, and we are left with the work on earth, and now work on the moon (Musk’s rocket is crashing into the moon — who voted him god of luna?) and on mars. This is probably one of a million things a “Jesus/Messiah” would discuss at the roundtable — who gives them the right to do this?

“So it has been following a somewhat chaotic orbit since February 2015,” Berger added.

Space observers believe the rocket – about four metric tonnes of “space junk” – is on course to intersect with the moon at a velocity of about 2.58km/s in a matter of weeks.

Bill Gray, who writes software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets, and comets, has said the Falcon 9’s upper stage will very likely hit the far side of the moon, near the equator, on 4 March.

Space observers believe the Falcon 9 rocket, seen launching in February 2015, is on course to hit the moon in a matter of weeks.

In a real world, yep, “The right questions: what the candidates should be asked.” This from a journalist, who turned 100 today — Morton Mintz. What would Jesus ask the candidates at the debates? Haha.

I actually wish him and his wife and his circle really good things in the coming years. I do. His BBBS — Bible Born Belief System — works for him. He also works for a homeless shelter in our county, which is good. I also think gaining fellowship outside proscribed arenas, like meeting someone on the street or in an informal way, is difficult, especially for men, males. Now. I understand that losing that is a lost opportunity. But this is not unusual. And, maybe we demonstrated, the two of us, that males with different opinions can’t find fellowship around ideas. A community of purpose, community of place, a community of beliefs, those are difficult to cultivate.

That’s how the cookie crumbles. Sure, I am saddened.

Larry (right): “Well, what happened was that the work slowed up for her. I don’t know, she was making pretty good money… Everything happened so fast and we didn’t know what to do. We were panicking and everything. We should’ve focused probably during the first time that we got the eviction notice. But, she was going through a lot things…” Lizette (left): “I’ve been trying to balance life, literally, emotionally, financially, socially, everything. I don’t where to go now. I don’t have a place to stay, a job. I’m getting to be homeless probably tonight because I’m getting evicted. So, we are trying to get out from our situation, but we are down there.” Photography courtesy of David Blumenkrantz and the One of Us project.

“A lot people can’t tell that we’re homeless, only because we keep clean clothes and we go places where we can clean our clothes and we shower on a daily basis.” — Mary Ellen & Deshaun. Photography courtesy of David Blumenkrantz and the One of Us project.

Spot Light on Poverty!


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