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You'll find us reflecting on our travels, our faith, justice, and what it means for us to live well in 21st century America. 

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Memphis featured in Atlantic Monthly Article

In case you're not a regular reader of the Atlantic Monthly, there is an article in this month's AM that is asking questions about rising crime rates in the US and its links to anti-poverty programs. I have to confess, its a tough read that affords a bleak outlook.

I think its particularly tough for me because some of the anti-poverty programs that are implicated are ones that I, myself, have advocated, written grants and implemented programs for.

The link to the article is here: Atlantic Monthly Article on Memphis Crime.

And below is an email response I sent to my fellow staff and elders at Living Hope.

Continue to pray for Lisa and I and for Living Hope as we seek the shalom of Memphis.


I'm not sure how many of you have run across the article in this month's Atlantic Monthly. The article is looking at the ways and reasons that crime is climbing in medium-large cities (500,000-1million). It focuses on Memphis.

The article is challenging and at times frieghtening. Margaret Craddock, the Executive Director of MIFA sent me an electronic copy of the article. Let me include an excerpt from my reply to her regarding the article:

Thank you for the link. I have to say that it was a difficult article to read. During my time in Fresno, our neighborhood was recognized by the Brookings Institute as the neighborhood with the highest level of concentrated poverty. Our community work and advocacy centered on de-concentrating that poverty, including (although tentatively so) the HOPE VI work.
This article challenges hope and yet reminds me that honesty is essential in addressing the great needs of Memphis, or any city for that matter. And that prayer and creative action will continue to point us the way forward.

When I finished reading the article, I felt rising in me a fear of Memphis, a desire to run away to safe geographies, an anger at the ways in which the powers & principalities have manipulated those things intended for good, and a temptation to resort to cynicism or something worse.

But that is not our charge. Nor is it our faith. Even the very name of our fellowship requires that we face the broken places of our world and plant seeds that subvert the very reality that says, "don't plant here!".

Let us live our faith and join with those that see the Atlantic Monthly article as a prayer guide and an opportunity to exercise that creative action that God calls and empowers us to employ.

With great hope,
"Should I not care about the great city of Ninevah (Memphis), which has more than 120,000 (1,200,000) people..." Jonah 4:11

Reader Comments (2)

This was meant to go here, but I accidentally put it on another post. I'm still getting used to this "commenting" thing...

Now that's a good blog entry...

My stomach is grumbling thinking about Central BBQ and the heart is a little heavy, wishiing we could be there with you all.


June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Watson - Any chance you were going to try and summarize the findings and potential implications of that article for po' folk like me? Your background in this area is sure to help people get a good grasp on a pretty complicated subject and article.

June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJR Rozko

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