Even Christ understood we will always have the poor with us, no? Matthew 26: 11. It is a very complicated problem. With the numbers of people on the planet, there will always be people at the extremes. The question is how to reduce the number of poor as much and as effectively as possible. I can go along with you on the Shipley bit on poverty. It does seem a bit general–at least the part quoted–saying basically there are a lot of causes and it will need a lot of solutions. All true, and sort of obvious and until you get into the details I’m not sure where it gets us. Yes, we need government and business (Santorum, et al, want only business). There will always be a few people who try to game the system. You have to try to catch them and minimize that, and it is no excuse for throwing everyone under the bus when there is true need (and that really does seem to be the Right’s prescription for everything). No, poor people are not monolithic. Good point, and one we need to remember. it would be nice if public and private sectors could work together. Obama is clearly the best hope for that.
Changing gears slightly, I was thinking about how Santorum is always judging everyone and everything. He really seems to believe he lives in a theocratic nation run by the Bible rather than our constitution. I was thinking of 1 Corinthians 12 & 13. I don’t think I have ever heard those verses preached on, even in the years in Iowa City when I was going to a Bible church where they preached for an hour or more every Sunday on the scriptures. It reads, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” It seems clear throughout the scriptures that we are called to help the poor, but we are only called to judge those in the church. We are not to judge those outside the church by our Christian beliefs. That says to me that if you are against gay marriage, take it up with your church. You are free not to honor it in your church. But where in scripture does it say we should rail against it or anything that is outside the church? We can evangelize, sure. But we aren’t called to judge those outside the church. That is what Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and the entire Christian Right do not understand. (Maybe New does and just says things he thinks the right wants to hear. But Rick is a true believe, and that is all the sadder.) We are called simply to help the poor, not to judge them. When Christ was feeding the poor he didn’t ask first if they had tried hard enough to get a job or if they were just gaming the system. No, Christ knew that the best way to their heart was to feed them. I have always understood the gospel as we are saved by Christ, through faith, for works. The poor we will always have with us. In part that means that we will always have work to do. I really don’t get these right wing Christians (I refuse to call them evangelicals, because that is what I once called myself, before they bastardized the word) who think it is somehow Christian to reject the poor and let them rot simply because they have decided that the poor aren’t trying and therefore are deserving of being poor. If you are a non-Christian living in the world and seeing the Christians with that attitude, is that really gonna draw you to that religion? Maybe, I don’t know. What bugs me the most is there surety. Their fundamentalism. Their belief that they are absolutely right and know everything. A couple years ago, Jim, you forwarded on a great sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick, from 1922, entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” It is as relevant now as ever. And the election this fall will answer that question for now.
As a wise friend of mine, who is now a minister, once said, “God is infinite and we are finite. Therefore, some of the things we believe about God are wrong.” That, to me, is in essence the difference between fundamentalists and sane people. Fundamentalists believe everything they know about God is correct. Sane people know better.
I’ve gotten a bit off track, and not too far I think. For I don’t see how you can simply reject poor people and say society has no responsibility for them unless you are a fundamentalist of some kind. Because unless you are a fundamentalist, you will understand on some level, whether you are a Christian or not, that there but for the grace of God go I, and you will understand that we are all in this together and so should help those less fortunate.
James Fallows has a great cover story on Obama in the new Atlantic, and makes the case that if reelected, there is good reason to believe in a second term he may govern more like the man we all hoped for in 2008 than he has in his first term. In other words, he has done a good job of learning on the job. Vote for Obama; do not let the fundamentalists win.