World Magazine's latest issue has a series this week about life in the city, and one particularly interesting part to me was about the homeless; many cities are more or less "banning" homelessness by prohibiting panhandling, sleeping in public, and so on.
On one hand, I can understand what's going on; one of the best ways to kill a retail district is to spread a few panhandlers around, and people will immediately assume it's no longer safe. That said, banning begging doesn't seem consistent with how Christ and the apostles treated the poor.
I think it also misses the basic reality of today's homelessness; thousands of men who are today homeless would have been quickly hired as day laborers in Bible times, or even just a century ago. Moreover, until the past couple of centuries, large quantities of cheap liquor were not readily available.
And so I think that we really ought to re-consider how our ancestors treated the homeless. They'd take care of the truly disabled, and offer work to the able-bodied. If an able-bodied man wouldn't work, they'd let him go hungry until he would.
In addition, our ancestors were also willing to cut off the flow of cheap liquor, knowing that it's a great way to make an able-bodied man disabled. Perhaps shutting off the supply of 40 ounce bottles of beer and "Uncle Jack's fortified Prune Wine" would do more than 1000 other programs intended for the homeless?
On another note, World's review of "300" has a note that it has "gratuitous" violence. I'm personally puzzled about how a movie about a battle that claimed the lives of over 5000 men can be said to have "gratuitous" violence. Exactly what else is hand to hand combat supposed to be if not violent?
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