Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Aug 9, 2010

Does Religion Cause Poverty? Part Three

It wasn’t long after my heart-to-heart talk with Mom about the Catholic Church’s doctrine on birth control that my parents announced we were moving to Ireland. Mom had talked about it for years, but I was never really sure it would become a reality. I would turn seventeen in a couple of months. Mom was forty when I was born and Dad was five years older. Dad retired and Mom followed suit by retiring early. They could live anywhere they liked because they didn’t have to work anymore. Now they were collecting social security. However, being on a fixed income made them susceptible once again to financial hardship. The cost of living was much cheaper in Ireland. Mom pointed out that their social security would stretch farther if we lived in that country.

My maternal grandmother was born in Ireland and that gave Mom dual citizenship. I was so eager to leave Carwithan Road I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough. At last I could escape our judgmental middle-class neighbors for a faraway place where no one knew I used to live in the notorious and much maligned Liddonfield Housing Project. My parents sold the house and used their equity to finance the move. Mom had made arrangements ahead of time to rent a house in County Cork. Ireland was beautiful. The house was lovely. It even had a name. “Fahalea.”

It was in a rural area, two miles from the nearest town. There were cows grazing behind a fence only a few feet away from the side door. I watched the cows through the kitchen window while eating breakfast in the morning. There were no streets, just a dirt road that led into a town called Carrigaline. Shortly after arriving in Ireland, I walked with my sister along the dirt road. I was shocked by what I saw. A pregnant woman who was obviously poor was strolling past a farmhouse with five barefoot children in tow. She couldn’t even afford to buy her children shoes and yet she was having another despite her poverty. My heart just broke right then and there. I had known poverty myself, but not like this.

It was 1976 and the government of the Republic of Ireland was strongly influenced by the Catholic Church. In adherence to church doctrine, birth control was illegal in that country. Unable to limit the size of her family, that poor woman was trapped in a cycle of poverty from which there was no escape.

To be continued. Part Four will be posted on Monday, August 16, 2010

1 comment:

  1. I have a few critiques on the article series based upon an analysis of the manifested logic behind the writing method utilized by the author.

    1. The running title of the blog is "Does Religion Cause Poverty?" Yet the only religious institution that is referenced is the Roman Catholic Church. In this facet the title is extremely misleading.

    2. By using the word "religion" the title suggests that a general analysis of religion will be performed. Yet that is not the case. Only one specific religion is being analyzed. Specifically Roman Catholicism. I see no mention of Animism, Bhuddism, Islam, Judaism, Protestantism, VooDoo, Wicca, Etc.

    3.The question is asked "Does religion cause poverty?" yet the only arguments presented are the ones that suggest the answer is yes. If the intent were to actually answer the question then arguments that suggest "no" would also be presented for the readers consideration. Yet they have not been presented. If this were the authors intent then she should have titled the series "The Roman Catholic Church's Condemnation of Artificial Birth Control Causes Poverty", and remove the question element from the title. This would have been much more intellectualy honest.

    4. Throughout the article series only one specific argument has even been presented to suggest that the specific religion of Roman Catholicism causes poverty. That issue is the Church's condemnation of artificial birth control.

    5. Even in this the author fails to differentiate between the Roman Catholic Church's condemnation of artificial birth control and allowance of natural birth control otherwise known as "Natural Family Planning".

    6. She also fails to mention why her mother, a self-proclaimed devout Roman Catholic, did not engage in natural family planning...

    7. All of these facts suggests to me that the author has an ax to grind with the Roman Catholic Church and is using an intellectually dishonest approach to grind that ax by hiding behind a dishonestly worded title and non-sequitur argument.

    8. Only personal antecdotal experiences are presented as if to suggest that the author's personal experiences are the sum total representation of the combined theolgical base of an institution that is over 2,000 years old!

    9. I find myself recalcitrant to view these points as simple and unintended oversights by the author given the fact that on this very blog she proudly discusses her collegiate and professional writing achievements. Based upon her education and experience I must give due credit where it is due and assume that she knew what she is doing. If not, then her credenetials are eitehr false or are the result of affirnative action.

    A fellow "Jector",

    Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed
    Resident-Liddonfield Housing Projects, 8811-C-Cottage Street: 1979-2001


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