Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row Book Review

Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row
By Jeff Dietrich
418 pages, Marymount Institute Press, $29.95

If you are wandering in the 50-block area known as Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles and you ask directions to Hospitality Kitchen or where the Catholic Workers serve meals to the homeless, no one will know what you are talking about.

“This place,” explains Catherine Morris, the gentle Catholic worker, “is and always has been known among the people as ‘The Hippie Kitchen.’ Since the beginning.”

Catherine is author Jeff Dietrich’s wife, who, together with various community members, has run the Catholic Worker Movement in Los Angeles since 1970. When NCR asked me to review Jeff Dietrich’s book and attend the launch at Loyola Marymount University this past Sunday, I knew I needed to visit the kitchen to have an idea of their work in Los Angeles, a visit long overdue.

Click here for the complete  review: http://ncronline.org/news/people/wheat-war-life-poor

Prof. Theresia de Vroom, Cathy Minhoto, RSHM, Jeff Dietrich, and Martin Sheen at the launch of "Broken and Shared" just after a reading.

Sympathy for Delicious: Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut

Dean O’Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is an aspiring DJ known as “Delicious D” on the Los Angeles underground music scene. A motorcycle accident leaves him in a wheel chair and he ends up sleeping in his car on Skid Row.

Fr. Joe (Mark Ruffalo) ministers to the homeless by organizing and serving meals and finding temporary housing shelter for those who will accept it. The priest notes how depressed the young man is and brings him to a healing service where people are “slain in the spirit.” Dean is skeptical but inexplicably he discovers he has the power to heal others. It is very confusing and a lot to take in.

Thornton and Ruffalo in "Sympathy for Delicious" that opens today in NY, LA and DC on May 5.

Meanwhile Dean, now a minor celebrity, joins a rock band and decides to market his abilities as a healer. This is not out of compassion. It seems an almost passive-aggressive reaction to God’s caring for others but not for him. Fr. Joe advises against this, but must confront his own personal faith issues as he tries to guide others. When Dean’s healing abilities fail when they are needed most, he is forced to confront his demons and accept the fact that sometimes the healing you get from God is what you need, not what you want.

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