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God’s Un-American View of the Poor and Why It Matters

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by gzt, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    If we're going to start discussing that rather than the articles in question, I would just note that 40% of the poor are children. Can't tell them to get a job. And being poor as a child leads to adverse outcomes - doesn't lead to the "success sequence" Brookings wants.

    Children, elderly, disabled, and students together account for 2/3 of the poor. Among the working poor, about 80% are unemployed. But let's look back - what did the children, eldery, and disabled (a little less than 60% of the poor) do to deserve being poor? The Brookings success sequence is kind of irrelevant to those classes. So we're wandering far off track here.
     
  2. Jesus4Madrid

    Jesus4Madrid Orthodox Christian

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    Well, in a sense you are right: strictly speaking not finishing high school, not getting a full-time job afterwards and not waiting until age 21 to get married and have children are not sins per se.

    Yet the point is that poverty is largely a choice in the US and not the fault of some faceless evil system. Not choosing well to do these three basic things is often due to sin: fornication, unwanted pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, divorce and broken families.

    One of the key messages of Proverbs is that the decisions we choose to make determine our direction and ultimate destiny. Broadly speaking in the US, people are poor (rather than middle class) because of bad decisions. Sin affects those decisions.
     
  3. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    If that is true and the world's systems are not evil after all, why did the system God personally set up call for an economic revolution every 50 years?

    Proverbs was written for a nation that was supposed to have that economic revolution every 50 years. Proverbs doesn't actually work anywhere else.
     
  4. Almost there

    Almost there Well-Known Member

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    HAHAHA! You posted one of the passages that is core to me on this whole thing. However, a lot of folks don't agree with you and me. I've actually heard the argument that, though Paul was speaking in present tense, he was really talking about his life BEFORE he was visited by Christ. ;)
     
  5. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    Except that before he was visited by Christ, he did the things he wanted to do. It was only after being visited by Christ that he no longer wanted to do those things.
     
  6. Almost there

    Almost there Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. You're preaching to the choir (me) on this one. ;)

    It's amazing how we (and yes, I include myself) have pet beliefs that force us to twist scripture to mean what we want it to mean. A perfect example is John 3:16. Now, if it wasn't in Christianity, any reasonable person would interpret "perish" to mean "die", especially since it is juxtaposed against "eternal life". But we "know" the lost suffer for all eternity, so we gloss over the word without really thinking about it, even though the verse completely contradicts what we believe (even in the original Greek).

    And that kind of revelation regarding my own personal beliefs has been happening in spades for me the last few years. I've changed a lot of beliefs. Some major, some minlor. And I have no doubt I'm not done.
     
  7. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    It's simply not a choice. And this is just deflection from the sin involved in becoming and being rich when others are in poverty, as St Basil points out in his homily.
     
  8. keith99

    keith99 sola dosis facit venenum

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    Scripture was written by men. The OT written by those in power at the time. Now why would such men write it so every 50 years they get the vast majority of their wealth back if they had lost it?
     
  9. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    I didn't understand that question.

    Some of the OT is almost certainly written for the men in power at the time--Kings and Chronicles, for instance. But some of it seems certainly written as a rebuttal to the power structure--2 Samuel, for instance.

    The Mosaic Law books appear to have been written by someone who was idealistic enough to oppose the accumulation of wealth and power into a few hands.
     
  10. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    It's not at all clear that a poor kid in Brooklyn who manages to finish his substandard high school, gets a full-time substandard job, and manages to go another three years before gaining a family is going to reach the New York City middle class.

    And it's not clear that will happen more often than not anywhere.
     
  11. nutroll

    nutroll Veteran

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    Last night I came across a quote from Evagrius of Pontus about logismoi which I think has some bearing on this discussion. (long rambling post warning)

    As I read it, this all sounds like what we now consider sound financial planning advice, which shows me how far we have departed from really living the gospel. We are told that we must start saving early for retirement security. We are told that we are failing as human beings if we find it difficult to put food on the table, to pay for medical expenses in the even that someone falls ill, to put a roof over the heads of our children or give them a college education. But we are also told that we should make sure that we are not a burden to our children in our old age.

    This is not about "if any would not work, neither should he eat." This is about a system that is set up (and I am not putting the blame on anyone in particular, pretty much our whole society is set up toward this end) to make us labor and toil for things other than the Kingdom of God. From our earliest days we are told to save money, and when our barns are filled that we should tear them down and build greater ones so that in our old age we can take our ease, eat, drink and be merry. We deprive ourselves of the opportunity to be helped by others, we deprive others of our help, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn to live by God's providence and care and not by our own toil, and we deprive ourselves of the chance to lay up treasure in heaven.

    Yes, we should work. Yes, we should take care for our families. But we are slaves to greed and avarice and we usually think it's a good thing. I appreciated that Father Stephen did not make a case for Socialism as an economic ideal, but pointed out that Capitalism is not the godly enterprise that it is often presented as. I don't know what a truly Christian economic system would look like in practice (if there even were such a thing), but I would guess that a great many American Christians would reject it if they saw it. I suspect that Ananias and Sapphira probably had their reasons for keeping back some of the money that they should have brought to the Church. They knew what the system was, and in principle they agreed with it or they would have brought nothing. And yet they chose to keep something back for their own use. It was the sin of avarice. They may have felt that they could take better care of themselves and their needs than God and His Church could. They might have felt that their needs were more important than the needs of others, or that some others were not deserving of help. It does not really matter why they did what they did.

    Avarice is not always as blatant as selling the Savior for thirty pieces of silver. And yet we know that what we do to the least of our brethren we do to Christ. When we sell out our brethren in order to get ahead ourselves we do that to Christ. When we live a life of constant consumption fueled by slave labor or when we build our retirements on usury that deprives others, we do those things to Christ. And it wouldn't matter whether we did it for thirty pieces of silver or a trillion, it still would not be worth it.

    So obviously, we all need to go off the grid and live out in the woods (or the deserts) living only off the sweat of our brows, right? I'm afraid I wouldn't last a week. But I think we need to realize that Capitalism "works" because it is based on the reality that people are greedy and avaricious and that one person's greed can keep another person's in check. It is not a good thing to be praised, but a reality to be accepted. And insofar as it is possible, we need to examine ourselves and strive to cut away the sin of avarice from ourselves and make choices that value others more than ourselves, even when it's difficult for us to do so... especially when it's difficult.
     
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  12. keith99

    keith99 sola dosis facit venenum

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    By insuring it always gets returned to those same few hands who held it at some point in time?
     
  13. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    I think one of the big reasons for him not to make such a call is that there are a lot of different models of capitalism and socialism and we need to be wary of making pronouncements without care - it's well beyond his competence to make prescriptive policy declarations. It's well within his competence, however, to say what is immoral or wrong about our current system!
     
  14. Jesus4Madrid

    Jesus4Madrid Orthodox Christian

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    It is a choice for many, as Brookings Institute points out. It may be a difficult choice, but nobody is forced to have sex before marriage or babies out of wedlock. Sorry, that is an abdication of personal responsibility to claim otherwise. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances, but the good news is that if one can graduate from high school, wait to get married and have kids and hold a job after graduating, one will enter into the middle class.

    Its not a deflection at all; I have pointed out the sins that contribute to poverty: fornication, divorce, broken marriages, drug and alcohol use, not to mention sloth and others. If you are poor, you have probably done something wrong.

    You contend the opposite: "if you're rich, you've done something wrong".

    What precisely is that sin involved in becoming rich, which evidently Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David and Job all committed? You haven't said that rich people are sinners (unremarkable, since we all are), or that some people made money through sin (also unremarkable). You contend that being rich, per se, means sinning. How? Should we consider the father of the Prodigal Son a sinner because he was rich?
     
  15. Almost there

    Almost there Well-Known Member

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    Have you been watching Ben Shapiro? That is exactly what he says.
     
  16. nutroll

    nutroll Veteran

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    I graduated from high school and college. I waited to get married and have kids. I have worked continuously (at the same job) since before high school, and I am not middle class. I am not a drunk or an addict, and am in my first and only marriage. And I am poor. I am poor because I have chosen to live as an iconographer and a clergyman. I am poor because my wife and I have children that are a blessing to us, but are not inexpensive (even when living frugally) I am poor because I give away some of what I have even though I can't afford it. I am poor because my wife and I give away probably half of the food that I cook. I am poor because my wife and I decided that she shouldn't work full time in order for there to always be someone to be here for the kids. We need to be careful with painting in broad strokes. We can speak out about the harms to society that come from fornication, drug use, etc. without claiming that poverty is caused by such things. They are contributing factors to be sure, but when we make assumptions about who deserves the consequences of their sins, we might fail to help those who are poor because that is the life that God has placed them in. You might be the hands that minister to that person (and even those who have sinned need others to minister to them).
     
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  17. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    St Basil - as quoted earlier.
     
  18. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    There are severe methodological problems with the conclusions drawn by Brookings and your conclusions go further than theirs, not least is which is the matter of causality. It also ignores the point I made earlier about the proportion of the poor who are children, disabled, and elderly - they don't have anything to do with the success sequence but make up the majority of the poor. I'm not particularly interested in getting into these issues as these empirical issues are beyond the point of the discussion at hand, which is about theology. If you really insist on getting into it, here's the first article that turned up on google which properly identifies the main methodological problem with the Brookings assertions: The Success Sequence Is Extremely Misleading And Impossible to Code
     
  19. RDKirk

    RDKirk Alien, Pilgrim, and Sojourner Supporter

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    It didn't start in a "few hands" and it had accumulated to even fewer hands...just like today.

    All debts are cancelled and the property goes back to the tribes it was originally bequeathed to.
     
  20. Jesus4Madrid

    Jesus4Madrid Orthodox Christian

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    Bravo.

    That’s sort of the end game isn’t it—giving what we have to those in need. I’m all for it and actively engaged in it.
     
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