The following is an excerpt from an essay written by Brian Walsh and Steven Bouma-Prediger, originally published in the 2008 edition of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought. The essay is an adaptation of a chapter from their forthcoming book, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement. The book will be released by Eerdmans at the end of May.
If you ever met them, you wouldn’t think that Kenneth and Kenny share much more than their names. But even their names are different. No one would ever call Kenneth “Kenny” and “Kenneth” doesn’t even appear on Kenny’s birth certificate. No, Kenny was Kenny from the beginning.
There are, however, a few things they have in common. They are both male, white, and of English descent. And we could say that they are neighbors, although they’ve never met. If Kenneth had ever seen Kenny, then the face and body of this particular neighbor certainly didn’t register. Kenneth was probably on his way to a meeting when he passed Kenny on the street.
You see, Kenny lives in the ravine with a couple of his brothers. They have a “squat” down there with a couple of tents, some furniture picked up on garbage day–maybe from in front of Kenneth’s place for all we know. Kenny and the boys live close to nature. Real close. In fact, when a flash flood hit the river, they almost drowned. They lost everything and had to start to cobble together tents, sleeping bags, and some cast off furniture all over again. One of the local street outreach organizations helped out, though the cops seemed pretty angry about having to save these guys.
Kenneth, however, enjoyed watching that violent thunderstorm from the vantage point of his 20th floor condominium. He happened to be in town that day. He actually has three other “homes” in other parts of North America. His business activities require him to work out of three cities, so Kenneth’s wife, Julie, suggested that they should have three places to live. That way Kenneth would not be stuck in boring hotels, and she could accompany him regardless of which office he is working out of at any particular time.
You can read the entire essay at Perspectives.