At a recent town hall meeting in Harlem, the Manhattan Recovery Coalition asked several dozen folks a few simple questions.

“I am sick and tired of fear,” said one. “I would like less drama in my family and less gun/violence in the community.”

“I am sick and tired of being unemployed,” said another. “I want to be a better man.”

“I am sick and tired of living,” said a third. “I miss my family.”

“I am sick and tired of systemic oppression,” said a fourth. “I want my community to gain a sense of power.”

When you ask people for their stories, this is the sort of thing you hear. A stories project at Occupy Wall Street elicited similar fears and frustrations. Our Lifeline recovery ministries hears these stories every Sunday.

When you give voice to people, they speak from the heart, from the broken places, from the fear.

I think we Christians need to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening.


Q: Is religion necessary for a moral life?

A: Hard to say. But I know for sure that faith is necessary. Not because faith provides all answers to ethical questions, but because faith strengthens one for the journey. Living a moral life is profoundly difficult. Look at how few do it. It requires self-sacrifice, tolerance, patience with other people but impatience toward injustice. The moral life usually runs against society’s normal grain. Someone who hasn’t submitted to the God of their understanding probably couldn’t sustain it.