Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Boy in The Barrel

There are those who identify themselves as "pro-choice" because they freely acknowledge that there is a lack of complete consensus about when human life begins. Since such a consensus is lacking, they seem to believe that it's purely a matter of personal choice, and that one choice is as good as another.

I freely acknowledge that such a consensus is lacking if one is talking about the nebulous concept of "personhood" (although it is an utterly disingenuous and falsifiable claim if one is talking about biological life of the type which is genetically different from the parents of the fetus), but I disagree with the premise that since there is no perfect consensus, there therefore is no fundamental principle which would enable us to resolve the dilemma of what should and shouldn't be allowed.

Simply put, I believe that when there is a doubt about whether or not one is involved in the deliberate destruction of an innocent human being, one owes life the benefit of the doubt.

I tell a story I like to call "The Boy in the Barrel". One day, a man on his day off was out in his rural back yard, shooting at empty barrels just to kill time. (This was back in the days before video games and other diversions!) After an hour or so, his wife called him in for lunch.

He decided to resume his shooting after lunch, but just as he was raising his high powered rifle in order to take another shot, a man from next door ran into his yard and loudly shouted for him to stop. Puzzled, the man with the gun asked why he should do so. His neighbor said, "I know that you think that what you're doing is just innocent fun. But what you don't know is that while you were eating lunch, a neighbor boy wandered into your yard and decided for some inexplicable reason to climb into that barrel you're aiming at. If you shoot now, you will most likely seriously injure or kill that boy."

The man with the gun was conflicted. He'd seen no boy in his yard, and he remembered a time long ago when his neighbor had even lied to him. Nevertheless, it was a chance he dared not take. If there was even the slightest chance that he might be killing an innocent human being in the process of resuming his barrel shooting, he would regret that decision for the rest of his days. So he lowered his gun, walked over to the barrel and looked inside. Sure enough, there was the boy, just as his neighbor had claimed. He breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that he'd listened to his neighbor.

My point? Due to the gravity attached to the act of taking a human life, the burden of proof belongs to those who would argue that a particular action will most definitely NOT take an innocent human life. It does not belong to those who would disagree. If pro-choicers can't even agree about where to draw the line about when human life or "personhood" first begins, whereas most pro-lifers believe that the moment of conception is where one should draw the line, then the logical place to draw the line (for all people with consciences) is the moment of conception.

The above line of argumentation, by the way, does not rely on religious doctrine in any way, shape or form for its legitimacy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Financial Update as of 8/23/2010

As you know if you read my blog post from last Friday, I didn't get the unemployment insurance check (via direct deposit) which should have been deposited in my bank account on that day. So this morning, I checked with the bank, hoping that it would have been deposited over the weekend or this morning. No such luck. I was beginning to feel really desperate, inasmuch as I had a total of $7, consisting of $1 and change in my pockets, plus $6 in my bank account.

The 7 day CTA bus pass I'd bought last week hadn't yet expired (although it did later in the day), so I went out to the IDES office at 3500 W. Grand once again, to see if I could figure out what was going on, and to try to expedite the deposit. But when I got there, all they could tell me was that their records showed that the money had been deposited, just as they'd told me on Friday. They couldn't do a "trace" on the payment until Wednesday, when I'd have to go back to their office in order to initiate that process. Even if their trace did show that the payment had failed to go through, they still would have to issue a new payment, and it seemed likely to me that I wouldn't get that payment until Thursday or Friday at the earliest.

Needless to say, the return bus trip was not pleasant, because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I was supposed to buy food (and pay for the round trip I'd need to make there on the bus on Wednesday) with just $7 to my name. (Plus, if I'd withdrawn everything from the bank, they'd have considered that I was closing the account, which I very much needed in order to receive future IDES payments!)

I decided to visit the bank once again and see if by some remote chance the $118 I was expecting had been deposited in the last several hours subsequent to my first visit to the bank. As it turned out, IDES had indeed made a deposit, but they'd deposited $108, not the $118 I'd been told would be my weekly benefit.

At least I have a bit of money with which to pay for food for a little while. But it would seem that the phrase "a day late and a dollar short" should be updated, in my case, to "four days late and ten dollars short". It's bad enough that they're expecting me to live on $118 a week (or to live on that amount for two weeks, since I won't get another IDES payment until September 3, assuming that things go more smoothly the second time around). On top of that, I will now have to revisit the IDES office in order to show them the bank statement which documents the fact that their payment was $10 short.

Being poor really stinks.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Financial Update as of 8/21/2010

In my last post, I shared some very specific details pertaining to my urgent need for financial help. I then placed a link to that blog post on my Facebook page.

Two people responded to that post. One person offered practical help, in the amount of $200 sent by wire to my bank account. (What a blessing!) The second person offered implied promises of help, but as far as I can tell, she did nothing of any consequence. She did say that she'd pray for me, but given the fact that her lengthy e-mails to me seemed to suggest that her real agenda was to find fault with me and with my manner of communications, I feel that it's reasonable to question whether or not she even did that. And while I certainly need prayers, prayers alone will not pay my bills.

Oh, well. When one is as transparent as I was in that blog post, that's to be expected, I suppose. But when one is as desperate for help as I've been lately, it's annoying to have to respond to such people, hoping that one is not wasting one's time in doing so.

Not long after posting my previous blog article, I bumped into a guy in my building who had worked on the census team with me. He said that I should visit the IDES office again and present them with evidence (in the form of pay stubs I'd received) of my having received income from the census. So I did that last week.

It turns out that when I applied for those benefits the first time, they hadn't yet received financial information from the census bureau, despite the fact that I'd applied for benefits fairly late in the game. That's why they'd initially made a determination that I wasn't entitled to any benefits.

This wasn't just an issue with the census bureau, by the way. IDES had received such information pertaining to my previous job with Screenz Computing Center, but only for the first quarter, not for the second quarter. And it had been at least four months since I'd quit that job. That should have been more than enough time, it seems to me, but apparently not.

The guy I spoke with last week checked his computer, and it turned out that they'd subsequently received new information from both jobs, and that I was now eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. So he updated their information regarding my application, and told me to go online in order to set up a direct deposit arrangement, and to call in for certification for benefits on Wednesday, all of which I did. He told me I should have my first payment on Friday. That turned out to be incorrect, probably because some banks are faster than others in terms of posting their payments. Consequently, I've really been scraping by this weekend, with only a few dollars left! But I have reason (based on my second visit to that office on Friday) to believe that there will be money in my account when I check on Monday. I pray that I'm right about that.

That's the good news. The bad news is that they awarded only $118 a week to me in the way of benefits. That's considerably less than they awarded to me last time when I applied for unemployment insurance benefits. If that were my only income source, it would be enough to pay my current monthly rent, but only barely. I'd most assuredly be reliant on DHS (the Illinois Department of Human Services) for food stamps. And that wouldn't help me at all with other necessary expenses, such as clothing, phone bills for my cell phone, and transportation related to my job search. More troubling is the fact that it wouldn't even come close to helping me to get caught up on the rent I already owe to Lawson House YMCA.

Also, the payment I'm currently expecting is only for one week, not two, thanks to the fact that IDES has a "waiting week" when one first starts getting benefits. Payments only come once every two weeks, so it's really going to be touch and go for a while, I suspect.

I do have one small additional source of income, but it still isn't enough to meet all of my living expenses while simultaneously enabling me to get caught up fairly quickly in terms of the back rent I owe. (And unless I'm mistaken, the payments pertaining to that additional source of income are currently late, which means that I'm going to have to nag that person, once again, to get caught up on her payments to me.) So the bottom line is that I still need financial help, or (if worse comes to worst) someone willing to offer temporary housing to me in the event that I am unable to satisfy Lawson House YMCA and in the event that they should evict me.

I've been in worse spots before in terms of back rent, and God has provided for me in the form of help which might be regarded as semi-miraculous, so I am trying to remind myself that such things can happen, and not to lose courage. But such things still do not come easily to me, so I could use both your support and your practical help, whatever that help might be.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Over the years, I've experienced several crises in terms of my finances, and this is one of those times. In some respects, this is the worst one yet. I currently have no income (since the census bureau stopped handing assignments to my group of NRFU enumerators), I owe rent for both July and August (approximately $900 total), I have a negative bank balance of almost $200, and to top it off, I just received notice from IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) that my application for unemployment insurance benefits has resulted in a "benefit" of exactly zero dollars. Plus, the bank is currently charging me an overdraft fee of about $32 per item. (They have a feature which allows one "credit" for overdrafts of up to $250, but I've pretty much used up that option at this point.) I do still have a few dollars in my wallet, but that may not even last until the end of this week. I also have a few canned foods, but again, those will be gone before you know it.

I therefore solicit your prayers, and (if feasible) any material help you might care to offer. I'm pretty close to the end of my rope. and my depression over the situation is almost palpable. I've been a Christian since 1969, but things like this still put a huge amount of stress on me. I do not want to have to move into a homeless shelter, or to have to throw my numerous books, personal writings, etc. into a dumpster because I have no place other than my room at the Lawson House YMCA in which to store them.

Mark W. Pettigrew
Lawson House YMCA
30 W. Chicago Avenue, Room 1212
Chicago, IL 60654

The above is the information which appears on my checks, except for the zip code. (It hadn't yet been changed by USPS from 60610 to 60654 when those checks were printed.)

For anyone wishing to wire money directly to my bank account:

My Bank Account Information:
North Community Bank
3639 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613
Account Number: 11-13-007262-0222
Routing Number: 071001533

It might seem imprudent for me to post this personal financial information online, but I've been helped this way once before (by a fellow Christian from Australia!), and I checked first with my bank manager to see if the information could be abused by someone wanting to rip me off by taking money out of my account. I was told that I'd have to authorize any such withdrawals in writing. Directly wiring money would negate the need for a check or money order to clear.

I know some of you are also hurting for money, but every little bit helps. If you can't help materially, I would nevertheless appreciate your prayers.

For those of you who don't know me very well, I think you'll get a better feel for whether or not I am trustworthy by reading my many blog posts here at I can also furnish references, and I'll try to honestly answer any questions you might have to the best of my ability.