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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

God's Economy

“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, 'It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”
                                Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

“The poor are with you always” Jesus said

Some have used that comment as an excuse to simply ignore the issue of poverty

Sorry, that really won’t fly!
Because Jesus said, from the very beginning,
I have come to bring GOOD NEWS to the poor!

I think we can safely say
That Jesus did not minimize or marginalize the poor

Instead he ate with them
Invited them to be disciples
Walked the dusty roads with them
And taught them

Indeed he spent his live
Mixed in among the poor and the needy

Rarely spending time with the wealthy
Or those with power

It’s not that Jesus disliked the poor
Although he was, it would seem, often disappointed with them

Not so much because they were bad, but because they were enslaved
Unable to defuse from their need for power and wealth
And therefore unable, like the rich young rule

To truly follow Jesus

Not so much because they were bad, but because they mistakenly believe
That wealth and power were the measure of the person

And for Jesus, those things clearly were not

Jesus looked for different things
He looked for curiosity
And for hunger
He looked for humility
And for compassion

He looked for
Including self-honesty

He looked for passion
For a passion for justice
And equity

And above all, a passion for all things Sacred

No way!

But we have gotten it all backwards
And so the rich, who are the poorest in the eyes of God
See themselves as superior
And the poor, who are blessed
See themselves as failures

And God laughs
Because we have it so wrong

But it is no laughing matter
Because our failure to understand
God’s economy

Causes us to shame the poor
And abandon them
It causes us to oppress and suppress and minimize them
Take advantage of them

It causes us to create systems that make it difficult
In spite of our shallow patriotic rhetoric
For a poor person to improve their live
And if we add race into the equation, make it almost impossible.

40 million Americans live in poverty (this is true, aweful poverty.  Many, many more live on the edge of poverty, and are one “bad event” away from poverty)

Only 30% of the people in true poverty ever make it out
And much of the reason for that is systematic, and is due to a significant degree
to the greed of the wealthy, and the failure to provide the wages and supports needed)

Millions WORK full time and don’t earn enough to move out of poverty

For too many wealthy American’s the poor are invisible, inconsequential at best
For others they are objects to be used and underpaid
For others they are lazy moochers

The poor themselves accept the way they are defined
And ironically vote for the very people who promise to lift them out of poverty
But have policies that keep them in poverty

So the poor are seen as less
As deficit
As “not enough”

But for Jesus
These are his people
These are children of God
These are people of amazing value
These are the people he hangs out with

For Jesus these are the blessed
And these are first

If those who are affluent would see the poor the way Jesus see them
If the poor would see themselves the way Jesus sees them
If we would all learn to value people
The way God values people…

This would be a different world,
A different nation

And this would be a place where equity would be possible
So too justice
So too peace
So too community
So too health

And so much more


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