Space that’s free as grace

Regarding the “Asheville Disclaimer” feature in the Xpress: Humor is an important and beautiful thing. I love to laugh—a full-on, belly-shaking laugh. Humor can be a powerful tool to educate and create a new vision, or humor can reinforce stereotypes and create hurt. The “Disclaimer” has succeeded in this second, lower form of humor. Humor at the expense of human dignity is just plain wrong.

In the Aug. 1 “Disclaimer”, StreetSide and those who speak through it—people who are homeless and poor—were lampooned: “StreetSide only publishes a paltry 2,000 [copies] every other month (no wonder they’re homeless).”

But the “Disclaimer” did point up some significant differences between our paper and Mountain Xpress. At StreetSide, we don’t have paid advertising because our first loyalty and goal is not profits but prophetic speech: speaking the truth in love. It is not about being good for business but about asking the question: Is business good for people? Is our city committed to caring for all its people, or is it so catering to the interests of developers and tourism that it is hurting the poor and diminishing our beautiful mountains? Is Mountain Xpress as independent as it claims to be, or is it a functionary for a culture of rampant consumerism at the expense of human well-being (from the “Disclaimer”: “Market research has indicated that 43% of Xpress readers intend on buying a large-ticket item in the next 3 months”)?

So, in response, to follow the pattern of the “Disclaimer”:

Dear business owners,

If you are interested in the plight of those who struggle; or, if you want to be in the business of caring, sharing your bathroom and phone, your resources and energy; or, if you want to pay living wages, share your bread with the hungry and welcome the stranger; or, if you want to go and sell what you have and give it to the poor and follow Jesus in the work of solidarity, hospitality and welcome (particularly of those on the margins), nonviolence, an economy of sharing and stewarding of creation, and a dynamic love of God, neighbor and self that creates real community—then please come and share your story in StreetSide. The space is as free as grace. The journey is as costly as the cross and well worth it. Another world is possible. Won’t you come along? To quote Dorothy Day, “We are fools for Christ and wish we were more so.”

— Amy Cantrell

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One thought on “Space that’s free as grace

  1. Carrie

    I’ve never met this Christ guy so why does he want me to share my bathroom?

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