Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm am over in the Portland area, far from the beauty of the country. Lots of rain, people, cars, and meetings. Frankly the meetings can be a bit depressing. Everyone is scrambling, trying to figure out what is coming down the road, and worried! Need is great and resources are small. The TV is full of ads debating the virtues or sins of the funding measures on the ballots here in Oregon. And that is even more saddening. I saw two ads yesterday (I don't get them at home). One was against the measures and was using fear as its main tool. THEY are raising spending. THEY are raising taxes. Jobs have been LOST! YOU are in danger. YOU will have to pay more taxes. YOUR job might be next. THEY are getting a raise (those horrible state workers) and YOU will get nothing. It was an ad with some facts, but clearly the authors were trying to make a small piece of the truth the whole truth - which made their ad nothing more than a lie. On the other side and equally sad offering. If YOU don't make more than $250,000 a year these measures won't affect YOU. YOU will be safe. You get the idea.

When we are involved in discussions such as this it is becoming ever more clear that we are not focusing in the right places. We focus on ideology - no more taxes, no big government. We focus on our selves - how will this effect me, will this cost me, will I have to give up something? We focus on what might be called "the moral". This is the most powerful and pervasive of all points of focus. They don't work hard enough. It is all about power. Those people (the poor, mentally ill, addicted) don't deserve all this help.

Ah, the people. This is what we forget in these discussions. At least we forget those people whom Jesus would have called "the least of these." We remember ourselves. We remember those who have and who might have to give up a little. But those who have not? Those who are vulnerable. They are the lost factor in the equation.

When we have a discussion about state funding the real question should be (from a spiritual perspective), "what does this mean for the vulnerable"? If you don't believe this is really where the focus ought to be, read any of the minor prophets, or read Luke, or Matthew. What about the children whose schools will be hit? What about the mentally ill who might lose services? What about the families in crisis who need help? What about the "least of these", the "little ones"?

Jesus said "whenever you do it for the least of these, you do it unto me." (Matthew 25)

The debate about taxes is not really a debate about taxes. It is about much more. It is about our collective soul as a nation, as a state, as a culture. It is a vote about whether we will be compassionate and giving. It is a decision about whether to take care of the vulnerable in our midst, or not. It is about whether we will be a community, or just a collection of individuals, each looking out for him or herself.

"It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action." Marian Edelmen

1 comment:

  1. I just completed my ballot. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us Stephen. Hugz Sher