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The backlash begins

I just got this email from Chip Mahaney, Managing Editor of KDFW FOX 4 News. He seems to have very much liked the article I did after inflitrating a local church disguised as a bum.
Stephen, you did a great job on the poverty church story. I go to Trietsch, and I fear I would have done the same thing, had I encountered you in our church. Thank you for writing this article. It made me think. I wrote a bit more of my feelings in one of my blogs: flowermoundroad.com.

I don't always agree with what I read in the News Connection, but I'm really glad you guys are in business. Looks like business is good for TNC, from all the ads I see. I always look forward to each week's issue, because something in there will stir me up. Keep it up, and good luck.

Best,
Chip Mahaney / Flower Mound, TX
Gee ... I'm flattered! And from a rather important person, so to speak. I'll consider the story as having paid off, even if I've already gotten a bunch of hate mail. For the benefit of my readers, I've posted Mr. Mahaney's comment on his blog here on, er, my ... blog ... Can't we think of a better name for these things? Anyway ...

This was a great story. Front page of The News Connection this week: Poverty and the Modern Christian.

Investigative reporter Stephen Website goes undercover at Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church, at the behest of its senior pastor Jim Ozier, to find out how a smelly, disheveled man (a "bum") would be received in God's house. You might be surprised. You might not be.

My wife and kids and I are members of Trietsch. We joined the church 10 years ago, and we've been privileged to be part of its phenomenal growth. It's a terrific place to worship and share faith in Jesus Christ. The people at Trietsch are as loving as any you will find, and the church regularly supports many community and world ministries, including Christian Community Action.

So why am I not surprised that a "bum" would get the "bum's rush" in our church? Probably because I am the church, and the church is me. Sad as that is. Up here in Flower Mound, we're pretty isolated from seeing things like this. Had I encountered Mr. Webster in church like some of our members reportedly did, I fear I would have been the same unloving example of God's love. And that saddens me.

Good job, Mr. Webster. Heckuva story.
Posted by Chip Mahaney @ 10:38 PM
Mr. Mahaney, thank you. I'm honored. I had to overcome a great amount of fear to walk into that church and actually write the story.

However, this other person would disagree with you. I'll simply post his letter and not respond. Though it was not my idea to do this, I did it nonetheless, with little regard as to what people would think of me. I hope my readers will decide for themselves.

The Poverty and the Modern Christian article was so funny I only quit laughing when I saw the author's picture and realized he was older than 12. Obviously old enough to know better. Let's see, dress bad, smell bad, don't initiate contact and see if people in a public place are friendly. Amazingly, they are not. Mr. Stephen Webster could have saved himself the aggravation and his fiancé's olfactory system. It generally takes asking for help to get help. People don't warm up to strangers regardless of setting.
I am out with my handicapped children in public often. The stares and odd looks happen to us much more frequently than just an hour of social experiment at church. Between my ugly mug and the assortment of sounds and fluids provided by my kiddos it can be quite a show. A mobile leper colony. It is not often that help materializes out of the blue but that is no indictment of the human race. You find what you seek. I am continually amazed at those who do answer the call to lend a hand or a kind word.
In your story, instead of a solution you blame all poverty on a human character flaw. Even Jesus said there will be poor always. Check it out next time you are in church.
Yours Truly,
Alex Buck
[address removed]
Highland Village, TX
====================================================

*A-hem*

I wonder if he knows what "economic apartheid" is. Anyway ...

So, wasn't that a nice way to start the week? Life is so bittersweet.

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