Remembering Al Smith

It was about a month before I visited the Open Door Community in Atlanta to write a feature story for Sojourners when the pictures started trickling in--Ed Loring leading a community meeting; Ed Loring at an Atlanta Advocates for the Homeless rally; Ed Loring posing with a donkey at the zoo. One of the founders of the Open Door (and one of the people who in endlessly creative ways reminds me to keep laughing), Ed wanted to be sure we had plenty of photographs from which to choose for the cover of the issue that carried the Open Door story. (Unfortunately, in the end, he lost out to a picture signifying "The Rise of Christian Conscience"; although Ed has a Christian conscience, we didn't know how to capture it on film.)

Ed's playful campaign to make the cover continued during my visit. I finally suggested that perhaps he should nominate himself for one of our December "incarnation" issues, an issue that guarantees cover prominence for the subject. He took the advice to heart and at that very moment decided to start acting more like Christ in order to heighten his chances.

On my last morning at the Open Door, I was eating breakfast with Ed and his family when someone knocked on their door. Al Smith, one of the community's residents whose job it was to answer the phone, walked in and handed me a pink message slip. "Jim Wallis just called from Washington," Al told me. "He said to bring this urgent message to you right away: 'Don't forget to get pictures of Ed for the cover of the magazine.'"

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