How can the church, while sitting on prime real estate, recover its prophetic voice on affordable housing?
RV parks raise rates over $100 per night as cities forbid public camping
As the U.S. faces a double crisis of affordable housing and mass border crossings, a solution may be to create RV Nation, stretching entirely across the southern border. Rather than fence the border, the U.S. could develop it with tiny homes and RV parks with monthly site rent waived in exchange for “Southern Border Settlement Security.” RV Nation Security could monitor its perimeter and attempting crossings. The development of RV Nation would include unbroken security fencing of RV Nation parks. Instead of fencing the border, fence the RV parks.
A side benefit of RV Nation would be the employment of veterans, seniors, the unemployed, and others who wish to build the infrastructure and services needed across RV Nation including, roads, bridges, wells, solar, schools, police, fire, businesses, and churches. Across the border, Mexico would be encouraged to build a sister settlement of like kind, creating a 1 mile plus security development corridor based on friendship rather than enmity. The RV Nation creates a reverse migration strategy by fighting mass illegal crossing with healthy development.
The US Forest Service is restricting camping on its land. States like Tennessee are debating making it a felony to camp on public land. The northeast rations diesel as gasoline follows behind it in price pushing toward $10 per gallon. For such a time as this, the U.S. could recruit settlers to pioneer RV Nation, which would foster a secure sister community on the Mexico border.
The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, unless the bad guy gets the drop on the good guy. Then choose Plan B. What? No Plan B?
To enter a sports arena, security frisks fans for bottled water.
To enter a school, a maniac strolls in with an AR-15.
Security equity now.
In memory of the Robb Elementary School (Ulvalde, Texas) mass shooting victims
Keep Every Door Locked At All Times … and other half truths
The other half of the truth, and key security element, is the conversation with the teachers and staff regarding what is working and what is not. This is opposed to superimposing slogans, such as “Keep every door locked at all times.” While slogans feel right and just, the reality emerges only through dialogue with stakeholders.
While Smith Elementary School’s [pseudonym] 250 page security manual touts deadbolted windows and doors, no one mentions the moldy air conditioning system that should have been replaced six years ago. Staff and teachers have complained about aggravated allergies and sweltering conditions, but the district has not been responsive to the teachers’ complaints. So, the teachers open doors and windows to relieve allergic or asthmatic conditions and create a condition where learning is possible.
The district office prides itself in the quarterly lockdown drills at Smith Elementary, as teachers shout, “Hide under your desk!” and the principal rattles locked doors. But the antiquated locks require a key and the teacher to find the key in the bottom of a purse, stand exposed to an intruder in the hallway, lock the door, then reenter the classroom. One misplaced key means that door remains unlocked.
If the door is unlocked and a school lockdown occurs, however, the teacher must open the door, step into the hallway, lock the door, step back inside the classroom, and close the door ― a time-consuming process with a potentially dangerous exposure. One way around this dilemma is to keep the door latch “locked” at all times, whether the door is open or closed. But this allows students in unsupervised classrooms to lock others out, simply by shutting the door.
School security in dialogue with staff is like pouring sidewalks at a college. Don’t pour the sidewalks first. Plant the grass and watch where the students have worn the grass in paths of natural travel. Then pour the sidewalks over the paths.
Manage to have a breakthrough this week rather than a breakdown.
Change, our ever present companion
Six months ago I started a new job as an insurance adjuster for the U.S.’s largest claim administrator. Sometimes I wonder if I had not followed the calling to serve as pastor of three churches, and executive pastor of a fourth, I would have advanced the halls in the ranks of insurance. Yet, I would not have traded all the promotions in insurance for the joys and memories of church work in the kingdom of God, reminding me that my insurance work is but tent making, like that of the Apostle Paul. I am on retainer for God.
My skills as an aging insurance examiner, makes me like an old “Gunny Sergeant,” climbing the corporate ladder would only interfere with my ability to serve at a world class level. Experiencing an insurance loss, be it injury or property damage, is pretty much a miserable experience. I enter that world of misery and make it as tolerable for them as I can. And for my peers and associates, … even an enjoyable misery.
Wasted days and wasted nights
As I started the new remote insurance job, my routine revolved around the use of four monitors, three keyboards, three computers, three mice, two video cameras, and speech recognition. The learning curve was so steep with 70 learning modules, I awakened in the night with a dream that left something undone. This was the adult version of the college student’s dream that he realized he enrolled in a class that he never attended … or he missed the final exam.
As the weeks wore on, I considered resigning as I felt like I had moved to Japan and was tasked with a new language and strange, new traditions. Then I considered what I learned from foreign missionaries and how they adapted to culture shock –
Through my travels, I have experienced things completely foreign to my definition of normal.
I have bathed and washed my hair in a bucket, slept in a treehouse, eaten with monkeys, been roommates with scorpions, used two boards as a toilet, traveled through the mountains in the back of a pickup truck and eaten foods I can’t pronounce.
All of these experiences, while exciting, triggered culture stress in me, which can affect your mind, body and emotions.
Last month, I won our team’s VIP award as claim examiner. What my team doesn’t know is how many times I considered pulling out. I stooped to ask my former employer for my old job back. But looking back, I experienced the culture adaptation stages taught by the missionaries:
Culture shock generally moves through four different phases:
Honeymoon (“Wow, this is great!”)
Frustration (“What have I done?”)
Recovery (“I think I can, I think I can…”)
Acceptance (“I love these people. I don’t want to go home!”)
One day during the last six month process, I announced to my wife that, “I managed to have a breakthrough this week rather than a breakdown.” And, like the old missionary, I discovered, “I love these people. I don’t want to go home.”
Out of the Trench and into the Light
You may say, “Pastor Jim, easy for you to say. But you don’t know the stress I face leading a post-pandemic church. Half the church hates me for wearing a mask; the other half won’t come to church for fear of getting sick. Where do I apply to work as an insurance adjuster?”
Second, grab the best tools from your library shelf. Three books helped me. One key insight was to create a mini-oasis each day, courtesy of Josh Davis’s book, “Two Awesome Hours.” I deceived myself jumping into every email I received, like Pavlov’s Pit Bull, rather than pausing to capture the picture of what is important. The second book, “Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress” I’ve dogeared over the years since I served as a pastor. The third book is, “A Little Book of Celtic Prayer,” with prayers for each day of the week.
Dreams can tell you something is out of balance in your life. To stay in tune with yourself and God, start a prayer and thought journal. A blank lined book from a dollar store will do. Draw, doodle, confess, prayer … get it into your journal. Be ready for flash insights to capture in your journal, even in the middle of the night. From A Little Book of Celtic Prayer, Friday evening prayer for bedtime, “Michael of the Angels” (p. 110), for night anxiety.
Third, put some feet in your faith in action by taking a prayer walk. Anglican prayer beads are an excellent resource to use on your daily pilgrimage. Unspoken Elements provides both prayer beads and prayer guides. You can even use prayer beads on a treadmill or elliptical at the gym, just hang on to the machine or you may find you’ve cut your earthly journey short.
For discussion see Voting Rights by State. Georgia gives hourly workers 2 hours unpaid time off to vote with the hours to be selected by the employer.
Let’s do the math – A voting line with a six hour wait due to restrictions on early ballots, no water or food allowed, and loss of income due to exercise of voter right = voter “redlining” designed to favor neighborhood communities of salaried or retired individuals who can vote free of economic penalties. Get out the vote is replaced with “blot out” the vote.
Played out in risk sensitive fields. The electric outlet not GFCI protected becomes the favorite to run extension cords out to parties on wet grass. The corporate exec who uses “password” as password.
As a pastor and insurance adjuster, this maxim to capture the Delta-V of where you are likely to experience a loss. It is a moving target. In my last church, now over 80 years old, we inspected and protected every outdoor outlet with GFCI “ground fault” protection. To my shock (forgive the pun), the lawn carnival, water slide vendors, not finding a nearby outlet, opened the nearest door and plugged extension cords into 20 amp nonprotected electrical outlets.
Using “Jim’s Maxim,” the jump-house people, who assured us that all their equipment was “GFCI protected,” admitted to me they either didn’t have GFCI or forgot to bring it. Now we had 500 youth and children on campus to enjoy the nearly inflated water slide. We had a choice – shut down the main event …. or make a Home Depot run for a solution:
A traveling chicken farmer as tall as his Oklahoma plains, Gene always told ranch yarns and poultry raising tips as I served home Communion in my last church. Confined then most of his days to a recliner and cable TV, his mind rambled freely the cattle and chicken ranches under the endless skies of Oklahoma and Texas. Gene held my ear as I planned our first chicken coop on our 7.5 acre ranch in Rimrock, Arizona. Gene gave me tips on how to bulletproof our henhouse from coyotes which hunt in packs.
“One day I visited an old farmer,” drawled Gene, ” He pulled back the door, and we walked into his wood chicken barn. To my surprise the old farmer kept all his chickens in cages chained a few feet off the ground. And below the cages wandered a bunch of cats.”
Observant, “I see you’ve got your chickens all up in cages? Is that to protect them from the cats?”
“Oh no,” said the farmer matter of fact, “The cages protect the chickens from the rattlesnakes.”
“What are the cats for?”
“Oh, the cats keep the rattlesnakes down.”
Our solution to fix a problem … may create a problem that doesn’t exist.
What we considered a problem today offered us the solution disguised.