Ex-Kerry online organizer Zack Exley’s newish blog about, well, what it says.
He’s chronicling the allegedly growing Christian Left in America, from the position of “largely un-churched” outsider of good will. Who, predictably, is being criticized for being “too critical”, by the same people whose side he’s on. Gee, sounds familiar!
Too bad this allegedly growing Christian Left is doomed to crumble.
It’s just those Bible-Fundamentalist, Anti-Enlightenment, Creationist, Republican-voting Christian Neanderthals again…
Move along. Nothing to see here.
Except that they’re wrestling with what Jesus meant when he said they would find Him among the poorest of the poor…And it’s leading them to think about turning the economy upside down…As they struggle desperately to find ways to rescue everyone in poverty. I wanted to do this blog to dispel some of the shallow stereotypes about evangelicals—but at this conference I find myself having to catch my breath over and over, because I didn’t expect it to be THIS different.
That message of turning your whole life over to the poor—and organizing your church to do the same–is almost the dominant theme at Catalyst this year.
Zack reports there were about a thousand attendees at that conference. Are there even a thousand really poor people in all of America? Really poor. Dying-on-the-sidewalks-with-open-sores poor?
The so-called poor have cars and cable tv and free medical. They live in America in the 21st century, where school is free and libraries are free and a bus ticket to a better town costs less than a bag of crack. If they’re “poor” it’s because they were too lazy and stupid to a) finish high school and/or b) keep their pants on. Jesus had something to say about folks who didn’t properly manage their money or other people’s, and who squandered free gifts and good will. He told the adulteress to sin no more, not to find herself another baby daddy.
I was part of a similar “movement” twenty years ago. It failed then and it will fail again because socialism is fundamentally flawed and cannot work for long periods. Like anarchism, it is parasitical, relying upon the success of its despised capitalist host. That core contradiction dooms socialism to failure. Dorothy Day kept the Catholic Worker House open thanks to donations from guilt ridden rich people. One can multiply examples ad infinitum.
Why do “right wing Christians” seem to “care” more about abortion, or terrorism, or gay marriage/adoption or even the hoax known as global warming, more than they “care” about the poor? I plead guilty — because there are more radical gays and feminists and global warming hoaxers than there are poor people in North America. These activists want to brainwash our kids, or worse. And terrorists want to blow them up. In the face of such threats, forgive me if the fact that Lakeesha can’t afford a new weave this week cuz she spent all her money on a new cell phone fails to get me humming “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night.”
I used to work at one of Canada’s biggest and most respected charities. Everyone there was sincerely well-intentioned and dedicated. Most of them were of above-average intelligence. But one day the time came to release their report about “the growth of poverty in Toronto”.
The report was released with a flurry of media fanfare and public events.
So: how much had “poverty” “increased” in Toronto during the past 5 years?
One percentage point.
Leaving aside the issue of how poverty is measured… one percentage point. Sort of like how “global warming” comes down to a one-degree increase in temps over the past hundred years.
Of course, if you’re a regular reader, you can guess what happened next. The staff was treated to a preview of the big Power Point presentation before it was unveiled to the media and the mayor.
I raised my hand:
“But isn’t one percentage point (and it IS one percentage point, not ‘one percent’, by the way) basically within the range of statistical error? Couldn’t those ‘poor people’ just be a few more university students living on ramen noodles, pretty contendedly? Isn’t going to university a good thing? How do we measure this whole ‘poverty’ thing anyway?”
Obviously I don’t work there anymore. (I still don’t understand the poverty measurement. My mother and I discovered to our amazement, watching the local news one day, that we lived “below the poverty line.” She had a low paying job and we weren’t on welfare, but we always had a full fridge, nice furniture and clothes. Guess it helped that my mother wasn’t a chain smoking drunk — I did that on my own dime, later in life…)
But I still live in Toronto, and it’s Thanksgiving, which means I have to listen to constant b.s. from the poverty industry, telling me I need to donate tins of tuna to the local food bank because “900,000 Torontonians” rely on the food banks.
In a city of 3,000,000, tops. Journalists and social workers both suck at math.
No one I know uses food banks. No one THEY know uses food banks. It is a common feature of human nature to think that invisible “other people” must be suffering even though my neighbours and I are pretty much cool. The people I’ve heard about who do spend all their government cheque money on beer then go to the food bank, or dress up as poor people to scam the Daily Bread.
Neither of these types of people are poor.
However, freedom of speech is at risk, the right to private property is not enshrined in our Constitution, Jamaican hoodlums shoot each other in after hours clubs, Muslims want special bathrooms and reading gay fairy tales to kids is totally cool!
That’s why I don’t care about the poor. They’re no more real than Bigfoot. Those we and these lefty Christians call “poor” are “poor” because they’ve made a series of stupid choices; spend all their (actually, my) money on lottery tickets, beer, tattoos and manicures; are suffering from undiagnosed but easily treated mental illnesses; had too many kids too young; smoked behind the gym while I spent recess in the library, etc etc etc.
I grew up with them. They were jerks and losers. (Believe me, innocent Lefty Christians: you haven’t met real “racists” and “sexists” and “homephobes” until you’ve spent time with the “poor.”)
Jesus said “the poor will always be with you” and all the crooked exegesis on earth can’t make that line read “you are ordered by Me to eliminate poverty forever using dubious economic theories and your own stubborn yet puny human will power.”
Jesus told us to love the poor because he realized it was so damn hard to do. And the poor in His day were REALLY poor. They had no choices, no upward mobility, no capitalism, no education. The Western poor haven’t been in that situation for a long time. This isn’t Dickensian England. As a matter of fact, I see plenty of irony-deficient so-called poor people shuffling through the big box
store, loading up on “cute” “Dickensian England” inspired Christmas decorations (along with bulk bags of chips and other junk ).
Those well-intentioned lefties at their big “immanentize the eschaton” conference have NO clue what they’re getting themselves into. Ungrateful poor people are a corrosive on the average heart. Only the saints can endure them and I guarantee there are even fewer saints abroad in the land than poor folks. As well, (as we saw in Katrina) today’s so-called poor, with their dependent/entitlement/victim mentality, are a threat to national security.
In ten years the Christian Left will hold another conference. They’ll call it “Where Did We Go Wrong?”
UPDATE: not much hate mail, but it’s early yet…