Mark Phillips | Winter 2013-2014 | Notre Dame Magazine
Late in that very rainy autumn the good citizens of the river city of Olean, New York, debated whether to permit a soup kitchen into their downtown business district on North Union Street. Out in the valley, the Allegheny breached earthen dikes, and while the Red Cross helped rural residents made homeless by icy and muddy water, I attended a dry and slightly contentious public meeting about the soup kitchen. There I heard a lady ask how the kitchen was supposed to benefit downtown businesses. Perhaps because the meeting was held in a church, with Christmas near and with small waves lapping at the edges of town, I sensed in her equally plaintive and scornful query an old Christian thorn: So how on earth is Jesus supposed to help the economy?