God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Two Pieces on Poverty

posted by gp_intern

There are two pieces on poverty from today’s Washington Post that are worth reading and discussing. The first is by one of my favorite columnists, E.J. Dionne Jr., If Democrats Want to Help the Poor. . . :

Republicans once preached compassion, but then went off to war. Democrats waged a war on poverty, but then lost some elections. They decided the middle class is where it’s at.

But the poor are still with us, and their ranks are growing. One in eight Americans lives in poverty, which seems obscene given that the really rich are enjoying a level of privilege that makes the Gilded Age Vanderbilts look like abstemious Puritans.

And A Powerhouse for the Poor, by Steven Pearlstein:

You often hear that the poor and working people don’t have a voice in Washington, that they invariably lose out to special interests that give big campaign contributions or can mobilize a vast membership.

As it turns out, this bit of conventional wisdom is wrong for one reason: Bob Greenstein and his crew at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm


Amen p



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:00 pm


If the Dionne article is going to note that the rich are much better off than the rich of yesteryear, it might be fair to note that the poor are better off than the middle-class of yesteryear.Would you rather have an economy in which the richest make $1,000,000 per year, while the poor make $25,000? Or would you prefer one in which the wealthy make $75,000 per year, while the poor make $10,000? Or one in which the wealthy make $25,000 while the poor make $5,000?While this is not the trump-card argument some conservatives make it out to be, a fair article ought to at least contend with this counter-argument as it applies to tax policy.



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:38 pm


kevin s–please provide references to your sources concerning how much people make in this country. Also please indicate the years and the inflation rates and cost of living during those years for your data. I’m also wondering how well a family can live on $25,000 a year, if that seems like an acceptable amount to you. Certainly you also need to take into account where that family lives, too. A family making $25,000 a year in New York City or in San Diego California is far different from a family making that amount in a small town in rural America, for example.



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 9:43 pm


My post was hypothetical, to counter the argument that income gaps define economic injustice. E.J. Dionne implies that the rich are outdoing the plutocrats of yesteryear, which has some rather obvious implication for how he perceives the poor are treated now.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:00 pm


My post was hypothetical, to counter the argument that income gaps define economic injustice. Kevin S. In other words, I cannot substantiate my claim.



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HASH(0x118a2df4)

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:39 pm


Kevin S’ “examples” also leave out the relative cost of living, which would likely be different in each set. He also ignores that in the first example, the wealthy are making 40 times more than the poor, while in the last two examples the proportionate disparity is significantly less.



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Doug7504

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:43 pm


Statistics don’t begin to tell the real story-“figures lie, and liars figure”. Let’s look at the basics needed for a family, and see who’s really well-off in America (and the world) today. Fifty million here have grossly inadequate medical care, often none at all. Are they better off than the middle class of forty years ago? The wealthy (of both parties) take care of themselves on the assumption that what’s good for them is good for the nation. It’s this very type of “Christianity Lite” thinking which allows our leaders to justify policies which entrench people into economic classes through trade policy, or wars, while a chosen few roll in wealth.Jesus didn’t challenge us to help the poor “as long as it’s good policy”. He didn’t warn us to “do unto others as we would have others do to us” unless they belonged to a different political party. He told us to treat each one as our brother, or sister. Until We Christians demand that this be done, the poor, and the ultra-wealthy, will always be with us. Who will help? Peace!



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 11:18 pm


“In other words, I cannot substantiate my claim.” What are you talking about? I didn’t make a claim. Instead of being petty, why not just deal with the arguments like an adult? “Kevin S’ “examples” also leave out the relative cost of living, which would likely be different in each set.” This is true, but can we declare conclusively that economic disparity drives inflation? Are the rich making life unaffordable for the poor in ways that extend beyond income disparity? ” He also ignores that in the first example, the wealthy are making 40 times more than the poor, while in the last two examples the proportionate disparity is significantly less.” No, that is precisely the point. My question is whether, all things being equal, one would prefer a system in which the poor made more money relative to the wealthiest percentiles, or a system in which the poor made more money absolutely.Is this argument really that foreign?



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justintime

posted May 5, 2007 at 4:48 pm


My question is whether, all things being equal, one would prefer a system in which the poor made more money relative to the wealthiest percentiles, or a system in which the poor made more money absolutely. This is the same bogus argument advanced by the Party Of Greed for as long as I can remember. In reality the wealthy get wealthy by utilizing America’s infrastructure, which is built by, paid for and owned by all citizens. It is only fair and just that the wealthy elite owe a greater percentage of their income in taxes to fund the infrastructure which enables their accumulation of wealth. The unlimited greed of our wealthy elite has left the economy so hollowed out that America’s infrastructure is being sold off to foreign investors to fund America’s trade and budget deficits. Make no mistake, America is being sold out by our wealthy elite under the cloak of monetarism and privatization. Wake up America! .



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Unsympathetic reader

posted May 5, 2007 at 5:59 pm


Kevin S: “My post was hypothetical, to counter the argument that income gaps define economic injustice.” If the income gap is only $65K and the low end is $10K as suggested in Kevin S’ hypothetical example, I don’t know if it would be better or worse. That would depend on the services covered by the state, would it not? Clearly, I’d prefer that the poor earn enough to cover basic needs of health, housing and a liveable retirement. But, is that the case? How have things changed over time?



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ds0490

posted May 5, 2007 at 9:25 pm


One thing that can be counted on in this nation, and history has shown this over and over again. While those in poverty struggle to make ends meet, there will always be those who, from the comfort of their modern homes with a nice roast in the oven, will offer advice on how they can lift themselves out of the poverty they have obviously placed themselves into. The church has surrendered its job of caring for the poor in favor of building modern entertainment centers designed to mobilize their congregations to support the conservative political movement. Multi-million dollar whitewashed sepulchers with the latest in video technology and the swankiest in praise music have replaced neighborhood churches that were not only connected to their community but much more active in supporting those in need. And when confronted, these churches say that they need money from the government to do this work, lest they have to abandon their fancy tombs of the spirit and actually use the money they say God has given them for helping others in his family. Yet another piece of evidence that the mythology of Christianity is simply a thin veneer covering the same greed and lust for power that is present in so many other segments of our nation.



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squeaky

posted May 5, 2007 at 9:44 pm


ds0490– Ouch. Not that I don’t agree…but ouch… Actually, I don’t totally agree. I don’t think the megachurches don’t do anything for the poor in their neighborhoods, so that is an overgeneralization (I can certainly think of examples to the contrary, in other words). That being said, I do think that often this move towards feeling the pressure to have the latest in technology is a huge misuse of resources. Small church I attended went to a power point in lieu of their overhead, when the overhead was doing just fine. Don’t really see that advantage there, but I wasn’t there to express my concerns when they made the decision… I also am concerned over this trend towards the huge megachurch in general. There is much lost with regards to community, even though they make the efforts to create community within the larger whole. It’s really easy to resist getting connected, though. Nothing like the small, neighborhood church, and it is sad that we are losing it–we lose much with each loss of a small church in place of a monster church…



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Sarasotakid

posted May 5, 2007 at 10:55 pm


Squeaky, I just read your post, above, and I agree with you. That is why I like the emergent church. I believe that that paradigm is more consistent with where we are at as a society and I think that the part of the church that was local community can be reclaimed through the emergent church model.



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 11:22 pm


“This is the same bogus argument advanced by the Party Of Greed for as long as I can remember.” You saying that it is bogus doesn’t mean that it is bogus. The argument has at least some merit, unless you see economic redistribution as a cure-all, which I presume you do not.”In reality the wealthy get wealthy by utilizing America’s infrastructure, which is built by, paid for and owned by all citizens.” To say that the wealthy get wealthy while utilizing infrastructure is different from saying they get wealthy by using it. I don’t think anyone is proposing that the wealthy not pay taxes at all, and the wealthy do, in fact, pay more than their fair share for infrastructure. “It is only fair and just that the wealthy elite owe a greater percentage of their income in taxes to fund the infrastructure which enables their accumulation of wealth.” This doesn’t follow from your previous argument. While you are on sage ground suggesting that the wealthy pay more, that does not necessarily indicate that they ought to pay a greater percentage of their wealth. “The unlimited greed of our wealthy elite has left the economy so hollowed out that America’s infrastructure is being sold off to foreign investors to fund America’s trade and budget deficits.” This doesn’t gel with the economic data. We do, in fact have a debt, but the economy is not as hollowed out as you describe. To ignore unemployment rates, the stock market and GDP growth in your analysis is disingenuous. You wouldn’t do so if your party was in control. “Make no mistake, America is being sold out by our wealthy elite under the cloak of monetarism and privatization.” This is a bit over the top.



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 11:27 pm


“That is why I like the emergent church. I believe that that paradigm is more consistent with where we are at as a society” How so? Ask an attendee of an urban Atlanta church what they think of the emerging church, and you will get a blank stare. The movement largely appeals to affluent white kids. I think the movement asks a lot of important questions from a theological perspective, and that is a good thing. However, their implicit claim seems to be that they alone represent the post-modern church.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 12:02 am


How so? Ask an attendee of an urban Atlanta church what they think of the emerging church, and you will get a blank stare. The movement largely appeals to affluent white kids. Kevin S. Please cite data to support your claim. However, their implicit claim seems to be that they alone represent the post-modern church. kevin s. Please cite to examples of ANY claim,implicit or not where the emergent church movement claims to be the sole representative of the post-modern church.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 5:11 am


“Please cite data to support your claim.” That urban churches in Atlanta are unfamiliar with the emergent church? Or you contesting this fact, or are you just being combative?However, my brother is head pastor at an urban church in Minneapolis. When I was hopped up for the emergent movement, he pointed out that fact that the movement is the “new thing” for a very select subsect of American culture. “Please cite to examples of ANY claim,implicit or not where the emergent church movement claims to be the sole representative of the post-modern church.” Not that there is anything I could cite that you will accept, but there is this… http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/000126.html In which McLaren notes that the point is not to have post-modern churches, but to speak to the post-modern. In the process, he criticizes churches that breathlessly declare that “play softer music and have candles”. Searching the entire site, it is hard to come up with a different conclusion from mine. To be fair, McLaren sees the emergent movement as “speaking to” the post-modern culture, vs. being a post-modern church. But as it respects my point, it’s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other… I await your reasoned response.



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ds0490

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:11 am


Squeaky, take a look at most of the megachurches. They draw in people from as far as 100 miles away, mainly on the strength of the preacher in the pulpit and the fancy multimedia and programs they offer. These people don’t care about the poor folks a couple of blocks from the entrance to the 25 acre parking lot. They couldn’t care less that there might be some folks nearby who could use some help with obtaining heat in the winter, or getting some help with food. When I drive into Chicago on I-80 I pass one of these huge churches, and I suspect it is small compared to some of the largest in this class. On Sunday morning there are easily 2000 cars in the parking lot, and several church busses. Now, when these services let out, the interchange with I-80 is tied up for miles with the traffic jam. Tell me these folks have any idea what is happening in their church’s neighborhood.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:34 pm


The movement largely appeals to affluent white kids. Kevin S. When I challenge you to substantiate your claim, you state: “However, my brother is head pastor at an urban church in Minneapolis. When I was hopped up for the emergent movement, he pointed out that fact that the movement is the “new thing” for a very select subsect of American culture.”Kevin S. Couldn’t you come up with more substantive evidence other than your brother’s mere unsubstantiated assertion? But more importantly, even if for argument’s sake the emergent church movement “appeals to urban white kids” does that in any way undermine my assertion that it is more consistent with where we are as a society? No. Just last week Reverend Salgueiro (I know that I’m probably misspelling his name), the Puerto Rican pastor identified himself as part of the emergent movement on this blog. Hardly an urban white kid. “Please cite to examples of ANY claim,implicit or not where the emergent church movement claims to be the sole representative of the post-modern church.” Sarasota As for the McLaren article, thank you for the citation. I read it from top to bottom and again what you cite to does not support your claim. At one point in the article, McLaren denies the very existence of the post-modern church.It is pretty hard to claim to the sole representative of an entity of which you deny the existence, wouldn’t you agree? I was just wondering, Kevin, do you really believe what you are writing or are you just so used to following the neo-conservative form of arguing that you just assume that people won’t check out the facts, which permits you to make the most preposterous unfounded claims?



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Donny

posted May 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Sarasotakid, If people “checked out facts,” liberal and progressive works would only be found in the fiction section of libraries. The ideology of Karl Marx and Charles Dariwn, can only be forced on young immature minds. Once life-experience comes into play, a strong mind learns that conservative values are absolutes of a free society.



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ds0490

posted May 6, 2007 at 3:47 pm


I think it’s simple to determine what the “emergent church” movement is doing with regards to reaching across racial barriers. Just look at where it is establishing itself and the answer becomes self-evident. http://www.precipicemagazine.com/brian-mclaren-interview.htm Brian McLaren says the following in the interview (link above): Darren King: At various points people have half humorously and half seriously suggested that the average profile of an “Emerging Church enthusiast” is that of a single, Caucasian, left-leaning, media-savvy male. To what extent do you think this is valid? Brian McLaren: I wouldn’t say that matches my experience. As for single – I see a lot of married folk as well. As for media-savvy, I guess most of us are computer literate, but that’s not unusual these days. As for male, I think we’re all grateful to see so many women leaders involved – more than I generally see in other religious settings. As for left-leaning – because a few of us have been outspoken about the Religious Right, some may have lept to an erroneous conclusion – that “the emerging church” – a term I don’t like at all – is a bunch of lefties. People who like to divide the world into those categories, and who themselves identify with the “right,” may feel that anybody who isn’t like them is “left,” but really, many of us think that whole binary way of thinking is terribly problematic. It’s one of the things we’ve got to get beyond. My guess is that people in this conversation would have a similar political make-up to the country, red and blue and green and so on … but what they’d have in common is this dissatisfaction with the divisive, binary, polarizing tone of so many debates. As for Caucasian, our country is majority Caucasian, but I think you’d find in the emergent conversation increasing numbers of people of color, and among the caucasians, you’d find a high level of commitment to strengthening racial diversity. Darren King: What can we do to help broaden this emerging demographic? Brian McLaren: I think the biggest thing is for individuals to build relationships. White pastors need to reach out to Latina pastors, or Native American pastors, or African American pastors, or Asian pastors. If leaders build the relationships, I think they set an example for their congregations. Of course, it works the other way too – there can be grass-roots movements of neighborliness that can have a far-reaching effect. I think it’s good to remember that different religious communities – whether we’re talking about denominations or ethnic groupings – are at different places. Some may not need the emergent conversation as much as others, at least not right now. Some might be less ready for it. So I don’t think anybody should be pressured to be involved, but those involved should always be hospitable and welcome others in who are interested – and their contributions should be welcomed. I’ve been so impressed with Tony Jones’ leadership in this regard. He’s reaching out and including all kinds of people – young, old, various races and denominations. I’m also thrilled about the emerging global network – The gathering next year in Uganda will be a major step forward for this global dimension. And some other exciting gatherings are in the planning stages, which will be opportunities to further broaden the conversation and community, demographically and in other ways.



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justintime

posted May 6, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Kevin saysMy question is whether, all things being equal, one would prefer a system in which the poor made more money relative to the wealthiest percentiles, or a system in which the poor made more money absolutely. This is the same bogus argument advanced by the Party Of Greed for as long as I can remember. You saying that it is bogus doesn’t mean that it is bogus. The argument has at least some merit, unless you see economic redistribution as a cure-all, which I presume you do not. The reason why this is a bogus argument is that it poses a fool’s choice, as if these two options were the only two available. And “economic redistribution” is a red herring. Kevin, it’s obvious you’re trapped in the circular reasoning of monetarist theory. If you were to step outside the monetarist echo chamber you might begin to grasp the reality of America’s hollowed out economy. Poverty in America is exacerbated by monetarist trade and tax policy. Monetarist absolutism will only lead to economic disaster for America. .



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:23 pm


ds0490, I know there are megachurches exactly like what you describe. But I have attended a megachurch in the community where I live, and they aren’t at all like what you describe. They regularly send folks on missions to other countries, sent many work teams to New Orleans and Mississippi after Katrina, and engage in contributions to the area food shelters and Habitat for Humanity work parties. I think you have fair criticisms, but I don’t think it is fair to say that ALL megachurches are as you describe. That is a sweeping generalization and a stereotype, and completely unfair to the megachurches that are doing what they should be. But, by and large, I agree that the small community church is more effective at working within the community, and even more effective at working in the lives of its members to be Christ in this world. It’s about personal contact and relationships, and that is difficult to attain in the huge setting.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 7:31 pm


“The reason why this is a bogus argument is that it poses a fool’s choice, as if these two options were the only two available.” It is not presume that there are only two options available. It simply points to the fact that economic disparity is not the bludgeon some would pretend it is. We can have disparity and prosperity at the same time.”Kevin, it’s obvious you’re trapped in the circular reasoning of monetarist theory.” How is it circular? “If you were to step outside the monetarist echo chamber you might begin to grasp the reality of America’s hollowed out economy.” Please explain the interrelationship between monetarism and the lens with which we view the economy. I don’t understand your point here. “Poverty in America is exacerbated by monetarist trade and tax policy.” How so? “Monetarist absolutism will only lead to economic disaster for America.” Possibly. But Bush’s increased spending hardly constitute monetarist absolutism. Further it has been argued that Reagan’s policies constituted a rejection of the monetaristic fervor of the late 70s. But yes, an economic policy that presume monetary policy alone is sufficient to keep the economy in check is a bit misguided. Alan Greenspan was a lot of things, but he wasn’t God.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 7:59 pm


Well what is Brian McLaren supposed to say? “Yep, we pretty much are a bunch of liberal caucasians.”? But that is, in fact, the case. Not that it is a problem, but it just speaks to the fact that the emergent church is not an end all, be all.That attitude that some cultures might not be ready for “the emergent conversation” seems awfully condescending, but I think it accurately describes the attitude that i find so offputting. Further, the attitude that the emergent church really cares about the world, while the “megachurches” are all about jumbotrons and ignoring the poor is nauseating. I have little interest in a movement that regards fellow Christians with such contempt. There are a number of great megachurches that do tremendous work with their own communities. With regard to McLaren’s binary comment, it’s a wee bit hypocritical to accuse the “religious right” of labelling people, yah? I think the movement asks important questions about the role of politics in Christianity. The idea that one must conform to a certain political ideology in order to be a Christian is ridiculous. But it is a bit ridiculous to pretend that his congregations are not politically liberal… Or more inclined to vote for candidates who articulate and forge policies that trend toward the left side of the political spectrum… Or however I have to phrase that to avoid the “you used a label” bludgeon.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 8:30 pm


“but it just speaks to the fact that the emergent church is not an end all, be all.” I don’t think McLaren said it was. Nor has he said this: “Further, the attitude that the emergent church really cares about the world, while the “megachurches” are all about jumbotrons and ignoring the poor is nauseating.” In my readings of McLaren, he seems to make a point much closer to your point above. He’s pretty clear about that in “A Generous Orthodoxy.” And, by the way, I agree with your statement above. Neither the emergent or the megachurch is the perfect church, nor can they be. They have advantages over each other, disadvantages over each other, and some do a better job than others (which was my point to ds+numbers). That being said, I don’t think anyone here has said the Emergent church is THE church of the future. More than likely, it will have its movement, make its contributions, and then fade just as other models through church history have come and gone. “But it is a bit ridiculous to pretend that his congregations are not politically liberal… Or more inclined to vote for candidates who articulate and forge policies that trend toward the left side of the political spectrum… ” I agree, but you miss his point that he is not trying to forge a congregation based on politics. One of the reasons the Emergent church has “emerged” is as a reaction to the overpoliticizing of Christianity. It is an attempt to transcend politics so that the world sees Christianity as the face of Jesus, rather than the face of the Republican party. If it results in more liberal churches, then it does, but it isn’t by intentional design.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 8:56 pm


“Nor has he said this:” That was ds0490’s commentary that I was referring to w/r/t megachurches. He is hardly alone in that viewpoint. “I agree, but you miss his point that he is not trying to forge a congregation based on politics.” That’s hard to reconcile with his political advocacy here and elsewhere. McLaren can be a bit maddening when trying to pinpoint exactly what he IS trying to do, and so sometimes it is important to look at the results. That said, I’m glad there are movements (the reformed church movement is another) that are appealing to highly-educated types. I would say that both the Calvinisits and the Emergents woud do well to be more vulnerable to substantive criticism.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm


“If it results in more liberal churches, then it does, but it isn’t by intentional design.” Sorry, I hit enter before I was done. I’ll agree with this. The effort was not to forge a politically liberal church, and only recently have certain members of the movement taken arms against the “religious right”. That said, it woud be from the purpose of the church’s founding to become unwlecoming to conservatives. When a movement’s leadership targets a specific political ideology, you can vritually guarantee that those who agree with the ideology aren’t going to attend. This has been a problem for the modern church, and a church seeking to embrace the post-modern should be equally on guard. As someone who is theologically pretty liberal (I enjoyed “A New Kind of Christian”) I would like to have the emergent discussion without being told how to vote (or at least how not to vote, which is one and the same in the two-party system).



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ds0490

posted May 6, 2007 at 10:11 pm


Squeaky, Donations to food pantries and work on occasional Habitat for Humanity projects is a good thing. What about helping with the crime situation in the neighborhood, or doing some work reaching across economic/racial divides with those who live around the church? Instead of sending people to far away places, why not get people involved in the 1 mile radius around your church…assuming that it hasn’t escaped the problems of our more urban areas for the uniformity of the suburbs (strange how few megachurches actually exist in poor neighborhoods). I believe it was Ben Franklin, writing as Poor Richard, who coined the phrase “charity begins at home.” What are these mega churches doing to help those around them? I fear that they are doing little, because the people attending the church have no knowledge of nor connection to the neighborhoods around them.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 11:09 pm


ds0490–it’s a strong accusation and generalization. I’m not saying your criticisms don’t have merit. I do, however, think it is dangerous to make the statement that not one single megachurch helps their neighborhood. These kinds of absolute statements rarely do much to promote any healthy conversation. In order to make such extreme claims, you really need some strong data to support it.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 11:33 pm


“What about helping with the crime situation in the neighborhood, or doing some work reaching across economic/racial divides with those who live around the church?” What about it? My church does it. Rick Warren’s church does it (and a lot of churches emulate his style). “Instead of sending people to far away places, why not get people involved in the 1 mile radius around your church…” Part of misson trips is about personal development. Sharing the gospel cross-culturally is an opportunity to grow in faith in a way few experiences provide. That said, my brother heads up a mission trip he calls “mission to the city”, which does precisely what you say. I think there is room for both, and that God calls churches to spread the gospel everywhere. “(strange how few megachurches actually exist in poor neighborhoods).” This is probably fair. Some churches tend to provide for the convenience of their membership to an unhealthy degree.That said, I used to live two blocks from Solomon’s Porch (which, now that I look at the website, has a link to donate to Guatemala) headed by Doug Pagitt. Whenever I attended, people were like “you actually live around here?”Now they have moved to a much more upscale section of Minneapolis. Which is totally fine, but let’s not pretend the desire to find nicer digs is solely the aspiration of mega-churches.



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canucklehead

posted May 7, 2007 at 3:42 am


If, as some argue, Jesus is the ultimate model for the church of what mission is all about, shouldn’t there be more ministries/churches leaving the comparative wealth/glory of the suburbs for the hell-hole of urban life instead of vice-versa?



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Donny

posted May 7, 2007 at 1:42 pm


Why are the poor in America poor? They are almost always people that didn’t finish school, or, are middle class people having to pay far too much in property taxes and other taxes that keep them from getting the actual money they earn. Never forget, that Democrats have your money removed from your paycheck before you even get to see it. Let alone spend it.Republicans want you to be able to spend your money the way you see fit.Democrats have no answer to help the poor except to increase taxes to make more people poor. I wouldn’t vote for a Democrat if a Stalinite were running against one. Since, I would be voting for one of two Democrats, and I am an American who does not vote for communists.



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timR

posted May 7, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Seriously people, You really don’t think poor people are living a lot better than they did a generation ago? Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. (Comparison of the average expenditure per person of the lowest quintile in 2001 with the middle quintile in 1973. Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey: Integrated Diary and Interview Survey Data, 1972-73, Bulletin No. 1992, released in 1979, and U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures in 2001, Report No. 966, April 2003. Figures adjusted for inflation by the personal consumption expenditure index.) “The fraudulence of the left s concern about poverty is exposed by their utter lack of interest in ways of increasing the nation s wealth. Wealth is the only thing that can cure poverty. The reason there is less poverty today is not because the poor got a bigger slice of the pie but because the whole pie got a lot bigger no thanks to the left” -Thomas Sowell



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Unsympathetic reader

posted May 7, 2007 at 3:29 pm


timR writes: “You really don’t think poor people are living a lot better than they did a generation ago?” Possibly, in many areas. Most are getting enough calories but the number of homeless is higher, in part due to de-institutionalization and other factors. Many jobs have moved to the ‘burbs and the lack of good public transit to those areas raises the costs of working. Poor access to preventative health care raises the expenditures when the worsened medical conditions must be treated in emergency rooms (Medical care continues to be one of the fastest growing expenses and takes the lion’s share of funds). I agree that “a rising tide lifts all (well, most) ships”, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if the slice of the pie weren’t shrinking as much. I suspect we could do better (We certainly could do it smarter). For example, I would say that education and a lawful society cures poverty, not wealth per se. There are a lot of countries with great wealth and a mostly poor population.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:05 pm


timR–the poor have it better may be true. So are you saying that we should stop trying to do even better? When we still have people who can’t make ends meet and children who don’t have health care, and children growing up in violent neighborhoods, how can we be complacent and say “good enough?”



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm


Squeaky, I think city leaders in general need to be much tougher on crime. Other than that, when we note that the poor are better off, we aren’t saying “job well done”. We are saying that policies the drive economic growth benefit all economic strata.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:49 pm


I don’t think that is what timR is saying at all. And I do agree we need to be tougher on crime in those neighborhoods. How do you propose that occur? We need to quit the cycle where young people are drawn into gangs because that is the only thing that feeds their self-esteem or pocketbook (spoke to one young man who spent several years in prison, and the reason he got into dealing was the draw of the wealth that was offered him). I was also thinking about a recent trend in supplying micro-loans to people in third world nations. The Habitat for Humanity model is also very good, in that it requires the recipient not only to give back, but to be responsible.



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timR

posted May 7, 2007 at 6:01 pm


Squeaky- We should try to do better. Trying to do even better and government programs with more taxes on the rich, however, are not the same thing. If we have learned anything from LBJ s War on Poverty and AFDC or communist regimes around the word it is this: rarely does government help poor people. More often governments cause and subsidize poverty.



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 8:08 pm


“And I do agree we need to be tougher on crime in those neighborhoods. How do you propose that occur?” Not skimping on police officers is a good start. Beyond that, we need to give them the latitude to keep potentially violent offenders off the street before they become offenders.In Minneapolis, one can drive a stolen vehicle, own a stolen gun, break into a house or car, buy drugs, and a host of other felonies with no possibility of receiving jail time. Jail are expensive, yes. Jails are not a cure all, yes. But when you grow up in the wrong neighborhood, and you see a drug dealer arrested one day, and out on the street the next, what do you learn? When you are a homeowner, and you nab someone trying to steal your car, and they are immediately put back on the street (and ordered to pay restitution.. yeah, right.) What is the lesson? The former learns that it is smart to deal drugs. The latter learns that it is smart to move to the suburbs.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Well I agree tougher crime standards are in need… Gotta say, though, doesn’t that require money? Really can’t get around the fact that money is required to help rid poverty from our society. I don’t think liberals think the answer is to throw money at the issue, but most solutions require money. Using that money responsibly on programs that are proven to work may be most effective, whether it is increased law enforcement, greater incentives for teachers to teach in poor neighborhoods, more financial support of schools to make up for some of the fact that the tax base is much lower than suburban neighborhoods. Maybe the problem of poverty isn’t in your neighborhood, but it is to all our advantages that every child has a chance to acheive their best. The cost to our society in terms of substance abuse and imprisonment are a drain on the economy that could be offset with some well-spent investment into children’s futures. One way or another, we pay for poverty. Another thing I would suggest is to look at neighborhoods that are overcoming their problems and find models to work on. It isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, but we need to be creative about finding multi-faceted approaches while taking in a broad range of perspectives.



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 11:50 pm


“Gotta say, though, doesn’t that require money? Really can’t get around the fact that money is required to help rid poverty from our society.” A .2% property tax levy for more police officer in Minneapolis, combined with tougher mandatory sentences and more latitude for cops to search and make arrests? I’ll vote for that in a heartbeat. Not in Rybak’s DNA, though. As far as schools, Minneapolis schools are very well funded. They are very poorly run. Changing the system would mean firing some administrators and replacing some school board members… We need to tie funding to certain standards and benchmarks, but the teachers unions unilaterally oppose this. If liberals will take a good hard look at the way our schools are run, and the role teachers unions are playing in their demise, they will find conservative much more accomodating on the financial end.



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nad2

posted May 8, 2007 at 1:26 am


http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-161510320.html this is a link to a christian century article by kent van til called ‘just deserts,’ an excerpt from a book coming out. it is one of the most compelling (brief) pieces on dealing with poverty i have ever read. i don’t think the free marketeers will be offended, nor should the charitable compulsionist (where i lean), it is a balance, a necessary one i think we all can live w/. check it out sometime if you want something thoughtful. the premise, free market is as a base as good as we can do, but it is not enough because it is based on desert alone (fallable ‘desert’ at that due to the crimes of distribution that have occurred to get us where we are) & does not account for need & we need to collectively step up to make sure everyone is getting what they need to survive. it is the developed world’s citizens’ obligation to see that everyone can survive, even if we must be compelled to do so. it is a necessary balance i believe. take a read & let me know your thoughts, no matter your stripes.



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Carl Copas

posted May 8, 2007 at 5:04 am


Donny: “I wouldn’t vote for a Democrat if a Stalinite were running against one.” Donny, would you vote for a Stakhanovite?



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squeaky

posted May 8, 2007 at 3:37 pm


jerry, I tried to get the ball rolling on discussing possible solutions, and you get all up in my cyber face. Fine. Be that way.



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justintime

posted May 8, 2007 at 3:55 pm


The choice in 2008 is between Democrats and crooks. Maybe Donny will stay home on election day. .



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l'etranger

posted May 8, 2007 at 6:01 pm


Kevin S As far as schools, Minneapolis schools are very well funded. They are very poorly run. Changing the system would mean firing some administrators and replacing some school board members… That’s a perfectly fair point – but it parallels with healthcare where the US spends twice per capita using a market system to what the rest of the world does using a socialised system. And on most measures that extra money is buying worse care than the rest of the world – indeed the individual states that spend more actually get worse care than those who spend less – as Elliot Fisher’s work has shown spectacularly. So I’m not sure this is a left/right split as you suggest – “conservative” approaches are often as unsuccessful as “liberal” ones.



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l'etranger

posted May 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm


sarasotakid and squeaky and the other out of touch wordsmiths have ruined this blog. their whining call for exact science sociology and their constant call for proper debate shows just how useless their kind is for solving the problems of today’s society. – Jerry I can’t quite work out whether this is meant to be ironic or not… Yes, mindless restatement of prejuice is so much more likely to solve problems than studying them, understanding them and debating maturely to find solutions.



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God's Politics Moderator

posted May 8, 2007 at 9:06 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Courtesy and Respect: You agree that you will be courteous to every Beliefnet member, even those whose beliefs you think are false or objectionable. When debating, express your opinion about a person’s ideas, not about them personally. You agree not to make negative personal remarks about other Beliefnet members. You agree not to engage in derogatory name-calling, including calling anyone evil, a liar, Satanic, demonic, antichrist, a Nazi, or other inflammatory comparisons. Disruptive behavior: You agree not to disrupt or interfere with discussions, forums, or other community functions. Disruptive behavior may include creating a disproportionate number of posts or discussions to disrupt conversation; creating off-topic posts; making statements that are deliberately inflammatory; expanding a disagreement from one discussion to another; or any behavior that interferes with conversations or inhibits the ability of others to use and enjoy this website for its intended purposes. Vulgarity: You agree not to display words, information, or images that are vulgar, obscene, graphically violent, graphically sexual, harm minors in any way, exploit images of children, or are otherwise objectionable. Copying Content: Beliefnet discussions are intended for interactive conversation; members are encouraged to express their own ideas in their own words, not to parrot the words of others. You agree not to create posts that consist substantially of material copied from another source. Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com



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l'etranger

posted May 8, 2007 at 9:47 pm


Dear Mod You agree not to engage in derogatory name-calling, including calling anyone evil, a liar, Satanic, demonic, antichrist, a Nazi, or other inflammatory comparisons. Does this include constantly describing Democrats as communists?



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kevin s.

posted May 8, 2007 at 10:28 pm


“Couldn’t you come up with more substantive evidence other than your brother’s mere unsubstantiated assertion?” Anecdotal evidence in general. Do you have any demographic research that refutes my point? Right now it’s anecdote vs. nothing.”But more importantly, even if for argument’s sake the emergent church movement “appeals to urban white kids” does that in any way undermine my assertion that it is more consistent with where we are as a society?” Why do you consistently put words in quotes that people did not say? I said the movement is made up of affluent white kids, and I have little counterevidence, except for the Princeton-educated Hispanic fellow. Affluent white kids are not where we are at as a society.The emergent church appeals to a certain demographic. That is fine. “As for the McLaren article, thank you for the citation. I read it from top to bottom and again what you cite to does not support your claim. At one point in the article, McLaren denies the very existence of the post-modern church.” I offer that he is saying that he speaks to the post-modern society, and criticizes other churches attempt to do so. I am not sure if you are reading my responses or not. “I was just wondering, Kevin, do you really believe what you are writing or are you just so used to following the neo-conservative form of arguing that you just assume that people won’t check out the facts, which permits you to make the most preposterous unfounded claims?” I will also take this time to add that the emergent church doesn’t deal particularly well with criticism.



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neuro_nurse

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:48 am


“Does this include constantly describing Democrats as communists?” l’etranger I posed that question on a different thread and did not recieve a response.



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l'etranger

posted May 9, 2007 at 3:52 am


Yes I noted after I posted I was surprised by the Mod’s comment as with one very obvious and notable exception the discussions here are generally pretty good natured.



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Don

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:22 pm


L’etranger and neuro_nurse: “”Does this include constantly describing Democrats as communists?” I posed that question on a different thread and did not recieve a response.” Mod suggested that we should refer inappropriate posts to their e-mail address: community@staff.beliefnet.com Maybe you two could dig up one or more and sent to that address. Just a thought,



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justintime

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:36 pm


nad2, The Christian Century article by Kent Van Til called ‘Just Deserts’ is well written and clearly thought out. Thanks for the link: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/…- 161510320.html I hope the hard core, dogmatic, purist free marketeers on this board take the time to read it before spouting off again on the subject of poverty in the 21st century. .



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kevin s.

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:59 pm


I’m not a free market purist. A couple of us brought up Friedman a while back. You did your reasearch on who he was, and now we are all free-market lackeys worshipping some idol of your creation.And your link is broken.



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neuro_nurse

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:25 pm


“Maybe you two could dig up one or more and sent to that address.” Don | 05.09.07 – 8:27 am Thanks. I did send a couple of complaints to that address. I have several pages of Donnyisms I have saved over the past couple months that I have thought about sending to beliefnet. justintime, Good article, bad link let s try that again. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-161510320.html It seems to me that many people who post here have chosen to ignore the social factors that have disadvantaged certain groups of people usually imposed on minority populations by the dominant group, not the least of which is stereotyping. Their arguments lean towards personal responsibility and victim blaming, and tend to dismiss that notion that there are circumstances beyond the control of those living in poverty as liberalism.It is true that people are ultimately responsible for the decisions they make (agency), however, it is also true that there are very powerful structural elements that influence behavior. I recently read several articles on this subject, most of which came from the peer-reviewed journal Social Science & Medicine. I also read an article on personal responsibility, the implications of which, if examined closely, I believe many people with Christian values would find disturbing. (Knowles, J. H., 1977. The responsibility of the individual. Daedalus, 106(1), 57-80.) Peace!



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nad2

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:04 pm


justintime, neuro, i am glad you read that article. i thought it was a well-reasoned approach & perspective on poverty that folks from all over the place could get on board w/. we need more of this on more issues. the christian century is a great magazine if you are in the market, btw.



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Don

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:24 pm


“I have several pages of Donnyisms I have saved over the past couple months that I have thought about sending to beliefnet.” Several pages? And your PC didn’t catch fire? ;-) D



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justintime

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm


Kevin S: “I’m not a free market purist.” You sure talk like one. You, timks and wolverine. And did you read the article? .



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neuro_nurse

posted May 10, 2007 at 4:30 am


“Several pages? And your PC didn’t catch fire?” Is that why I keep smelling smoke coming from my CPU? At one time I thought I could reason with the aforementioned + 011. Like many other God s Politics readers, I ve learned my lesson.



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Canucklehead

posted May 10, 2007 at 6:27 am


“I have several pages of Donnyisms I have saved over the past couple months that I have thought about sending to beliefnet.” Send them to beliefnet? Heck, let’s publish them and put them on the market. Look at the bucks the Left Behind series is pulling in!



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Don

posted May 10, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Dunno if that would work, Canucklehead. At least the Left Behind series has a plotline. Later,



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neuro_nurse

posted May 10, 2007 at 11:03 pm


“At least the Left Behind series has a plotline.” As well as proper grammar, puntuation, and spelling… (I presume, I’ve never read LaHaye)



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Canucklehead

posted May 11, 2007 at 2:45 am


“…puntuation, and spelling…” I rest my case.



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neuro_nurse

posted May 11, 2007 at 5:04 am


Ouch!



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