Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where God Left His Shoes

It is a tough movie. I’m speaking of Where God Left His Shoes, a 2007 indie (independent) movie directed by Italian-American Salvatore Stabile. The title comes from an old Italian saying. Stabile has told how his father often used that phrase: “When I was a kid, we moved into this apartment, and I remember him looking all around the place and saying, ‘Well, it’s not where God left his shoes, but it’ll do.’"

Friday evening, June and I watched the DVD, which was released last month, with daughter Kathy and granddaughter Katrina. We all thought it was a tough movie, for it shows well the plight of a homeless family in New York City in December. And they are homeless in spite of being “good” people wanting to work and trying hard.

This is a meaningful film to see during the Advent season. The Advent theme this week has been hope, and the poster for the movie emphasizes the words, “Hope is the Greatest Gift of All.” And as one reviewer wrote, the hope portrayed in the movie is neither sentimental nor sappy. The official website for the movie sums it up well: “Where God Left His Shoes is the story of a family that refuses to break apart during the darkest time of their lives and discovers that they will survive as long as they have each other.”

The movie makes a brief reference to help received from the Salvation Army. That was gratifying as June and I had just rung the bell by a SA red kettle an hour each yesterday. The headline for an editorial in this morning’s Kansas City Star is “Donations at red kettles add up to aid needy in KC.” This year, the editorial says, Salvation Army officials hope bell ringers will bring in $1,600,000 to help people in the Kansas City community. It goes on to state:

“Everything helps. The Salvation Army in the last year has seen a 30 percent increase in people requesting help for food, clothing, shelter and utility assistance.”

June and I were glad we could do a little to help the Salvation Army yesterday. But as I wrote in my previous blog, because we did something does not mean we have done all we should.


  1. Each is given passions/callings to improve the world in which we live. It may involve resolution of a past atrocity, rectifying an error previously made in good faith, or just pushing mankind on toward better and more civilized world for all.
    Some engage. Many just observe.
    I acknowledge the millenia of past human errors, but choose to leave the past behind and press on with my passion and calling to improve our world a little.
    Forgive my "unrepentant" side for the sins of my fathers, but I have also seen the tyranny of those who call for repentance. None is righteous. I will repent of my on errors - and do.

  2. One of my Thinking Friends who is a fellow church member at Second Baptist Church wrote the following in an e-mail message I received this morning:

    "We learn this week in the Lection about John the Baptist and that an authentic calling comes from the wilderness and not from the centralized temple or government bureaucracies so let's shut down the religious bureaucracies like SBC and CBF, sell our church building and meet in a school, and give all that surplus money to the poor."

    I don't know how serious this TF was in his suggestion, but I'm afraid I can't agree with it. I won't comment about the SBC and CBF at this point, but I don't think we should sell our church building and give the money to the poor. The poor need more than financial help, so my hope is that our church will be able to use our facilities more and more to help those in our community who are poor in order that they might find a way out of poverty.

  3. To respond to soujourner's point,

    I'd suggest a great book by a Korean American evangelical by the name of Soong-Chan Rah(who happens to be on the board of Sojourners I believe --- an interesting tie in) entitled "The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity." In the book, Rah refers to the rampant individualism that has sullied the church due to its denial of corporate sins --- such as racism, genocide, etc. This individualism allows the individual to deny the corporate nature of certain sins by simply stating --- "I didn't do it," and permits the denial of the benefits to individuals of the majority who benefit from the corporate sins of the past. As Rah and others far mor articulate than me have noted --- we cannot adequately address the corporate sins of today unless we (a) fully acknowledge/confess the corporate sins of the past, listen to those who are victims of such sin, and seek to understand the connections between such history(ies) and existing corporate sins knowing that only by understanding such sins can we effectively address such sins, and (b)quit refusing to implicate ourselves (we white males) as beneficiaries of the corporate sins that have plagued society.

    We cannot "leave the past behind" as we live in the consequence/result of that past, and much of what occurred in the past occurs today, as noted in Rah's book.

    Rah's book will be a challenge to many who choose to read it, but it shares a tremendously important message for the church.

  4. I also saw a challenging poverty DVD recently, Slumdog Millionaire. Superficially a Bollywood extravaganza, underneath throbbed an amazing amalgam of the heights of western technology and depths of Indian poverty, centered on a "slumdog" young man who rises to become a sensation on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

    This man amazingly flourishes in a painful world that would have destroyed nearly any American, and did destroy many in India. Our usually quiet, calculated lives barely intersect with his tumbling experience.

    Yet, I suspect our greatest responsibility is to bring that quiet calculation exactly to bear on the subject. As one example, when I was born in 1950 the world population was a little over 3 billion. Today it is over 7 billion. Forecasters predict I may well live to see 8 and even 9 billion people on earth. If we reach that 9 billion, the world population would have tripled in my lifetime. If someone born in 2050 lived through another tripling, we might be closing in on 30 billion by the end of that person's life. If we have not found the magic maximum human population, we probably would at least have found what a world with 27 or 28 billion poor people would be like.

    Poor people do not have time, tools or energy to think much about this. No one can force us to think about it, either. Sometime, however, the laws of nature will find a way to balance our population with our resources. So perhaps we could indulge our love of horse races. Which will it be? War? Famine? Pestilence? Disease? If we do not want birth control, we can always wait for death control. The four horsemen are waiting. My guess is that the slumdogs of the world will inherit what is left of the earth.

  5. To Chris Thompson,
    Thank you for the reminder of the unity of the one, holy, apostolic, and catholic Church of all times, and places.
    The short-sighted American individualism in the Church is sickening.
    Your recommended reading is taken.
    Yet I still view the atrocities of the "peacemakers" with considerable cynicism. As Tony Campolo puts it, even they have their own personally defined religion. The Catholic Catechism comes as close as any document to a commitment to social justice for the universal Church.
    My background, history, and friendships encompass many of the oppressed. Yet these are not my calling and passion in life. Rectifying the long-term situations of two groups is my calling within the universal body.