Samana's days in McDonald house are (hopefully) numbered!
"Food and God
This business with Samana and his followers made me think of when I was a kid on the road, back in the beatnik- bodhisattva age, in the late fifties. We yearned for enlightenment, read Hesse and Neitzche, and we aspired to be holy wanderers. Samana has taken a vow of permanence; we vowed to wander, looking for wisdom on mountaintops and out in the desert. I remember hitchhiking to San Francisco to see the City Lights bookstore where Kerouac hung out. Living dirt poor, sleeping under hedges. Hitchiking north through Nevada and Idaho. The bigger cities had rescue missions where you'd get a semi-square meal but the price was having to listen to the word of God. Be preached at. Show enough contrition and interest in their message and you might get a place to stay that night.
Christ did the loaves and fishes, Samana and his followers provide rice and healthy organic vegetables, poetry readings and an inclusive gospel that embraces everyone. Religion and food. We ate their dinners, slept on their cots, but most of us went on, unconverted. Man will more often than not bite the hand that feeds him if there is an ulterior motive, a desire to reshape you into someone who follows. I listened to Samana that day, looking to see if there was enlightenment and the spirit of compassion. What I heard was rage at the world.
He stood before me in his Sanctuary, weaving a net of words. He wanted me to watch him, but my eyes kept going down to Sacredlittle, crouched on her cushion, wearing a Burkha-like shawl on her head, listening to her teacher. Say her name, say it three times and what does it say about a monk who gave his first disciple that name? No address for SacredLittle except the streets of Northampton. There are nights she walks the streets. The Church of Us is like most fundamentalist sects. Absolute obedience, absolute subservience, absolute submission.
And liberal progressive Northampton eats this poison brew up and maybe wants more. Samana has some of James Jones in his mentality, who made his followers drink the Koolaid. Read the official minutes of the Housing Authority meeting that triggered all this, read what Elaine Fortier, the Tenant Vice President was calling for. She was calling for reconciliation and for people to go back to living together with respect for each other's rights. Instead, the tenants got a declaration of war under their doors. Tearing up the flowers and discontinuing their program and blaming it on their neighbors. Take a few minutes and read their leaflet.
Ultimately, we have to remember what the MacDonald House is and is not. This is a publicly funded safe sanitary housing for income-eligible people. It cannot have a church operating in its dayroom. Church and State, separate. You have a monk, you have nuns, you accept donations, you proselytize for new members, you got a church. It needs to operate on private property. MacDonald House is a public building, its tenants deserve privacy and corridors need to be clear of shopping carts so that people can get in and out in an emergency.
Massachusetts law promises tenants at MacDonald House tenants, the "right to peaceful enjoyment" of their premises.
Right now they are not getting it. The Housing Authority needs to consult EOCD and its counsel and start laying down the law and enforcing its leases. "