In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.
Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).
However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.
Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.
Here is the entry:
Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Lub/TX
I met with the [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] board of directors again yesterday evening. [Mr. Big], [Prof. Erudite], and [T-Bird] – along with the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], as well. [Agent MyDad] came with me, and at my urging, [Nurse Paratrooper], a friend from work who also happens to be an NA coordinator at [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] also came. ([Nurse Paratrooper] has both shown some frustration and interest in the issue at hand and so his presence seemed pertinent to me.)
We met at Market Street again, and again [Agent MyDad] and I brought communion. However we were told this would be brief because [Mr. Big] had a flight to catch. So we offered a QUICK communion [to accommodate] and sat back to see how the thing would unfold. [This meeting (like the previous one) was called at their request. Judging by how the last one earned me ABSOLUTELY NO compromises, and by the way my effort to have a meeting with the shepherd from Broadway [Cathedral] Church had been stood up, I only came because I was curious. What possibly was going to change? If there was going to be any change, it would surely be in a positive direction since that was the only avenue left open for any.]
[Prof. Erudite] did most (though not all) of the talking. [He took the lead in addressing me from this point forward in all communications hereafter.] It became clear rather quickly that the board had decided against my protest. [And we needed a second meeting for this???] However, they started by alluding to a passage from Romans about holding differing opinions on various things yet maintaining unity. I was told that I was valued and my continued presence was desired, but I was not going to get ANY COMPROMISE, NEGOTIATION, CONCESSION – NOTHING! The decision had been made, I needed to accept that. I was even told that there would be no way I might change their mind in the future.
Now these guys came with a gentle tone and all, but they really wrote off every bit of my concern. Not one ounce of my concern got even one ounce of concession. But they did bring up all manner of related issues – none of which were my protest. And ultimately they made a case that their history and mission is all geared toward being a “day center” rather than a night shelter.
Again, the issue of whether or not they care was brought up. Again they talked about “enabling” bad behavior. Again they spoke in terms of not being able to “do it all.” And even at one point the “executive minister” said that they had talked about it, prayed about it, decided on it, and though they didn’t even know if it was what Jesus wanted – that is the way it was going to be!
They addressed the issue of volunteers as analogous to a substitute teacher in a school who can’t keep order over the unruly kids the way the regular teacher can. [Mr. Big] particularly made this point.
And I quietly listened to it all. Then [Agent MyDad] began responding and saying that obviously there is a hole in the services provided that would have to be filled by someone else. The board members seemed to agree. And it appeared that the whole meeting might just wind down in a whimper.
But then I spoke up. I asked for CLARITY. I heard them all tell me NO in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, but I heard them rationalize it by addressing EVERYTHING under the sun EXCEPT for the ONE SINGLE issue I had raised.
I spoke forcefully and with direct eye contact with [Prof. Erudite]. I said I could dance around all these issues [they raise], or I could just get straight at the point – [but first] I turned to [Pastor Bates] and praised him for all the good things he has done. But then I turned back to [Prof. Erudite] and said, “But I want to be clear about the ONE ISSUE I HAVE RAISED because I NEVER heard anyone address it yet.
So I restated in blunt terms and bold tone, “You are telling me that on nights when it is 30 degrees F or below AND you DO have volunteers ready to help, that you are still going to CLOSE THAT DOOR! [Am I hearing you right???]”
It seemed to shake him up. He suddenly wanted to talk more about it. [I guess, [Mr. Big]’s fight would wait?] He became alarmed at my “passion.” And then he had to rephrase it, ask me to say it again, and he appeared to almost squirm in his seat. He even suggested that I had not said this before at the earlier meeting, which I rebutted that I had. At that point [Agent MyDad] jumped in and reiterated my position, and even [Nurse Paratrooper] said he knew it to be my position (though [Nurse Paratrooper] had not been a witness to the previous meeting).
[Prof. Erudite] seemed quite worried – almost afraid to commit to the decision at that point. I had to reassure him that I meant what I said, I wanted to be CLEAR that THIS is what the board was denying – not everything under the sun, but merely THIS ONE POINT.
Finally, he said YES – that is what the board meant to deny me. And with that I was done.
The meeting broke up on that note. We shook hands and smiled and drifted apart. I did ask [Prof. Erudite] just before he split if he would be available to visit with me on other topics at other times. He really gave me the blow-off excuse then about how busy he is and made no commitment whatsoever to that.
This from the guys who twice applied pressure on me to take seriously the urgency of meeting with them! And now I believe they NEVER had any desire to seriously consider my actual position but rather seriously considered how to marginalize me.
But why? Why not just ignore me like before???
And the Romans unity stuff – where is that now? That wasn’t really about unity. It was really designed to be a yoke/muzzle for me. There is no out reached hand of fellowship toward me now – only cowards running away to hide behind closed doors again.