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Archive for October, 2011

I opened up my facebook on October 14th and this is what one woman had to say:
“I don’t understand how, when, or why selfishness became the “Christian” position.”

She continued:

“I’m just finding very frustrating that in this whole 99% debate, the “Christian” voices all seem to be saying, “I work hard for my money, therefore it’s mine, and I don’t wanna share, and if the 1% are richer than you, it’s just because they worked harder, so they deserve it more.” It’s just so opposite the teachings of Jesus, and so opposite of how I feel about the world, as a Christian. It makes me sad. Jesus told his followers to pay their taxes, and the only time he ever got really pissed off was at people profiting off of religion. ”

My response:
” I don’t think it’s greed necessarily. Saying that I work for my money and don’t want to pay MORE taxes than I already do is not greedy. And assuming the Christians out there expressing this don’t give to charity is wrong. We actually are struggling, have sought some help. We’ve not gotten help from government programs like we have from who? Christians. I don’t think all the the 99% people are arguing the same things. I think some would actually be able to sit with about the same signs as the tea party people. It depends on who you talk to. I was just talking to someone yesterday who is not a 99%er, and may not be part of the teaparty, but she realized we’re all looking to the wrong solutions. The Church SHOULD be providing more and is NOT. That’s the problem, the government cannot solve it, corporations cannot solve it. I fear for MORE taxes affecting charitable giving.”

I continue:
And I knew this was going to happen a few years back. I began to hear the attacks on the rich from the Obama campaign, and I knew there was going to be a fight between poor and rich that didn’t exist in the way it does today. I find that many of the things that weren’t a big divider before are becoming so now. It’s all part of the plan, I think (whatever that plan is I don’t know…but I think it is part of it). Not that I think there’s a big “left wing conspiracy” but that yes, in the hopes of creating a bit of chaos before an election, we must have some class division. The bible itself mentions in proverbs (I think, I’ll have to look it up) you no work, you no eat. (very loose and free translation, forgive me). Now, I’m not assuming the 99%er crowd doesn’t work. Just that the concept that getting to have some prosperity from hard work is NOT a sin.”

Another facebooker responded:
“Christ said in Luke “Blessed are the poor for yours is the kingdom of heaven” and tells the rich young ruler to give away everything he has to the poor before he can follow him. Christ told everytone to pay their taxes, in a time when a tax collector could take every penny you had if he wanted to. Christ never said pay your taxes until you feel like you’ve paid enough, he said look Caesars head is on this coin, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. So take your dollars, and give to Washington what is Washington’s. Aren’t you blessed to live in a day and age when there are laws that keep a tax collector from walking into your home and taking every penny you have? Praise be to God! And actually, A LOT of the 99%ers leave the protest to go to work, one of the faces of Occupy Wall Street is a public school teacher who is there all evening, sleeps there 3 or 4 nights a week and has not missed a day of work since this started. Most people I know here at Occupy Portland do work and they are not there 24 hours a day. And the ONLY person I know at occupy Philly who does not have a job outside the home is JA (the original poster) and I would argue that to say see doesn’t work is insulting to billions of christian women who have devoted themselves to raising children in a home fo Faith for the last 2 millenia!”

“Yes, it’s true Erin, it was because the rich young ruler wouldn’t admit he was a sinner and imperfect. He knew the man’s heart. IT was not about being rich or poor. The society he was living in was much different than our representative form of government. And because we DON’T have to pay those taxes yet, we are free to express frustration with people trying to get more taxes to redistribute the money people have worked and saved for. The bible contains many examples and exortations to work and to save…how the ants are wise in saving for the winter. Yes, I know many work…they have to pay for the things they find to be important for them just like those of us who don’t happen to agree with their particular philosophies.”

Other facebooker replies, “I would suggest you read ANY of the Church Father’s on that passage, you seem to be taking your interpretations from 20th Century America and ignoring what 2 milllenia of Christians have believed that passage to mean. it is the height of American Prosperity arrogance.”

To this I replied, “I know many are trying, just like tea partiers, to make America better. They are expressing their freedom to speak. Some are downright crazy, but I’m sure that’s not all. The squeaky wheel syndome, I guess, when it comes to media attention on that. But I do think there is much more going on than just the tax issue. Biting the hand that feeds you is only going to hurt our economy. Regulation itself imposed by our government can often have consequences beyond which we cannot see today. Every law has many consequences we do not count on. All the best intentions, but this could turn out to be pretty ugly for us regular families relying on jobs…because those corporations are the ones that hire most of us. And they are the ones that support even the government with the current taxes they have. So when the economy is bad, even govt. workers suffer. More taxes on the corporations, more regulation…it has to be WELL thought out and looked at. Because no one is going to give the people better when they are giving more to the government. The tax burden is always passed on to the public.”

And I added further:

“Jesus names several commandments, and that arrogant man claims HE met them all perfectly. It was about HIS sin, it’s in the text. Mark 10:17-31 in context. It’s about him “trusting in riches” not in God. He thought he was perfect enough, and could not give up what he truly trusted in. It was not about giving up riches, it was about giving up his misplaced trust.”

Other facebooker reply:

“i interpret scripture in light of Christian Teaching and Tradition, I do not rely on my own intellect to interpret God’s Word, because I am not equipped to do so. If you feel that you know more about scripture than the Church Fathers, that is fine, I do not.”

My reply to the attitude given:
“Hey, I got my teaching somewhere. I didn’t make this up whole cloth. And I’m not attacking JA for her opinion directly, nor you.”

Original poster:

“If you look at some of the numbers, it’s downright scary. We are in a recession, and the super-rich just keep getting super-richer. Meanwhile, hard work isn’t enough anymore. Our parents’ generation told us to go to college so we could have a better life. They said, don’t worry about the loans, you’re investing in your future. Then, when the job well dried up, they said, Oh, too bad, I guess we were wrong about that whole education thing, have fun with your debt. Yes, I should take responsibility for my own choices (even though the pressure to go to college when I graduated from high school was insane). But when student loan interest rates keep rising, and you can’t just take a job at McDonald’s because it doesn’t pay enough to make loan payments, let alone pay rent, and people are dying because they can’t afford health insurance, yeah, I think I am entitled to be a little ticked off at the establishment.
And frankly, I’m tired of the argument that Christians should be helping by giving to charity, not supporting social programs, and that churches should be the ones feeding the hungry and housing the poor. Why on earth do you want all that responsibility? Can your church afford the millions of dollars that national social programs cost? Mine can’t. And as much as this nation pretends to be a Christian nation, if we were supposed to run the entire social safety net based on the tithes of church-going Christians, it would be woefully inadequate. The entire country – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan, you name it – needs to work together to make things better.”

My response: (and what I meant by own community is it’s own responsibilities within the body)
“Each church has it’s own community, and my church does work very hard to help and meet as many needs as it can…but Jesus also mentioned the poor will always be with you. He was seeking people to follow Him, and to serve when they could. The focus was on serving Him first, then meeting the needs within the body, then beyond. And trust me, JA, I am aware that church people are NOT perfect, and not all “our” ideas are perfect. As a Christian, I do know there IS selfishness, and greed…many examples. But I do think the bible does provide the Gospel despite us.”

Original poster said:
” I don’t want to play the Bible verse game. For every verse you find praising posterity, I can find another condemning wealth. That side-steps the whole point. The point is the general attitude portrayed by “Christian” pundits in the media: That somehow, poor people deserve to be poor, and that they are stealing from me if they need help. Which is decidedly un-Christian.”

My response:
” I personally was making that point about the “bible verse game” myself in quoting the ones showing prosperity itself is NOT an evil. What is wrong with people is not an opinion about how our government handles this, it’s about sin. And yes, you have a point in that greed is not okay. Pride is not okay. The problem is with sin and NOT with whether you support one political agenda or another.”

Original poster:
” And if a “Christian” is railing against the lazy welfare leeches who steal his tax dollars, I have a REALLY hard time believing that he is going to let his tithe money support them, either. That’s where the “Churches should be feeding the poor, not the government” argument really breaks down for me.”

My return:

“I do think it’s possible that if I heard someone arguing that way when someone is in true need, not just purposely not working and “working the system” we would agree.”

Original poster:
“No, prosperity itself is not evil. But the love of money is the root of all evil, and the fact is that in the United States, very few people get rich without exploiting somebody else to get there. And the Bible says that it’s harder for a camel to fit through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heaven and Jacob sent his sons to ask for food from Egypt. It’s okay to need help. But because we have this mindset that working hard to earn everything we need in life is the only good thing, we are tricked into not even accepting help when we need it.

My response:

“Yes, I do not think when needed help is above us. We’ve asked for it. But I don’t blame corporations NOR my government because I have need a times. Sometimes we cannot HELP our circumstances, and sadly, sometimes our circumstances are a result of our poor money management. We have experienced both…
We do have a bit of pride and don’t LIKE to accept help, we’d rather be the ones giving actually. But yes, we’ve accepted help and no one in the church has ever suggested (to us anyway) there is anything wrong with it.”

Now, I know my ping pong with these women was not the best, but I did try to redirect a bit. The original poster was dead set on saying Christians are selfish. True, we can be selfish. Some of those who represent the church aren’t actually Christians anyway. But it wasn’t about defending the church for me. It was about trying to explain they are using the bible incorrectly. Note how they picked out verses to say the rich in America should pay more taxes. Well, it doesn’t say that people should pay MORE taxes in the bible, just that we should pay the taxes asked of us. And the point of the mention of money is often to draw our attention away from money and toward Christ. Money is the root of all evil because people pursuit it rather than Christ. Whatever solutions we come up with for America are likely going to be practical and political. Using scripture to back us is dangerous and better be used correctly. I think, if we look at our nation, a large part of the failure in the country is greed within the hearts of individuals and families, not just in the hearts of CEO’s. It’s evident we’re going through more than just a readjustment, people really have a wrong idea of the bible, and the meaning of Christ’s words.

I hope I did something good in engaging others in this topic. I do feel it might be a fruitless effort! These women only want to use Christ as a means to an end. It’s just the same with many.

I do know the church cannot be the “social justice” branch of the world either. I do think some of the jobs our government does would better be handled by the church if and only if the church follows it’s role given by God. I do not believe the church is in the world to make it a better place, though I do think because of the church, God has blessed the world in many ways. I think those who are true believers do, because of Christ and His sacrifice, often do wonderful things and reach out to help those who live and work around them. It’s the natural goodness that comes from the heart of God. But, it is not a mandate for us as believers to fix all of society. Please correct me where I am wrong, I do believe the first place the church is meant to serve and help is within it’s own body. Going outside is secondary.

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