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Old 12-14-2005, 08:42 PM   #16
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Happy Holidays to you too, Dreadsox.
It's CHRISTMAS damnit!!!
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Old 12-14-2005, 08:49 PM   #17
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It's CHRISTMAS damnit!!!
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Old 12-14-2005, 09:39 PM   #18
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I do not consider myself "Christian Right" but I know people in this forum who are. That is pretty unsulting and uncalled for. I have friends who belong to the "Christian Right" as you call it, and they do more charity, more visisting of nursing homes, more singing visiting in the hospitals, more big brother work, more workingin the homeless shelters, more running food banks....and on and on and on.


but this gets to precisely the heat of the issue -- it doesn't matter how many hospitals you sing in or how many food banks you organize, the fundamental causes of homelessness, poverty, and most of society's ills are simply too complex to be tackled by individuals and charity groups. only government has the organizational capacity to address structural social problems. i think all these charitable works are commendable, but it's essentially one step forward two steps back if these same people are voting for politicians because they hold similar views on abortion or gay marriage and then these politicians turn around and cut taxes for the wealthy in the form of stock dividends and capital gains that aid the top 1 percent of taxpayers who make over $1m a year, and all this against the backdrop of the 1/2 a trillion for iraq and the katrina catastrophe and the medicare drug benefit. so what happens? fewer food stamps, less medicaid, and disappearing housing assistance -- all things that make real, palpable differences in the life of the poor and the very near poor.

these days, i'm finding myself to be even less of a believer, moving from agnostic to atheist because it really does seem like religion is something we made up to guard against the creeping dread of mortality, that when we're dead, that's it, and it's endless black sleep forever and ever and that's it.

but if i were a believer, and based upon what i've gleaned from sunday school, i know that Christ wouldn't support literally pulling food out of the mouths of the poor in order to put more money in the pockets of the rich while we mortgage away the future to China.

i want to quickly add that this isn't directed at you, Dread, but i wanted to use your post as a jumping off point.
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Old 12-14-2005, 10:02 PM   #19
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but if i were a believer, and based upon what i've gleaned from sunday school, i know that Christ wouldn't support literally pulling food out of the mouths of the poor in order to put more money in the pockets of the rich while we mortgage away the future to China.
Nice points made, Irvine. You sound like a believer to me!
You're right though, they're totally going against Christ's mandate in Matthew 25. Here, Christ actually says when we serve the poor, we serve him:

The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'


46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

I just gave the whole section of the chapter for context reasons. Interesting, huh? Of course, I have to admit, I'm just as guilty as neglecting the poor as a lot of the right-wingers are.
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Old 12-15-2005, 09:24 AM   #20
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coemgen -- EXACTLY! It's the same with same-sex marriage. How many times is same-sex marriage mentioned in the Bible? Sort of one. How many times is helping lepers mentioned in the Bible? Alot! Today's lepers just come with a different label -- AIDS -- and yet we don't want to help them. What about helping the poor? Alot! And yet we don't want to help them.

I've heard it said before and I believe it to be true -- you aren't a Christian if you go to Church on Sunday to worship God. You are a Christian if you walk out of that Church and live your whole life as if you were following God. There is a difference.
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Old 12-15-2005, 10:21 AM   #21
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Sadly, both right and left have sold their souls for a mess of political porridge-both using the gospel for political gain.
Amen to that.
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Old 12-15-2005, 10:27 AM   #22
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Amen to that.


we all know how the Right does it.

how does the Left?

(i mean this seriously, not rhetorical)
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Old 12-15-2005, 11:44 AM   #23
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Originally posted by Irvine511
but this gets to precisely the heat of the issue -- it doesn't matter how many hospitals you sing in or how many food banks you organize, the fundamental causes of homelessness, poverty, and most of society's ills are simply too complex to be tackled by individuals and charity groups. only government has the organizational capacity to address structural social problems. i think all these charitable works are commendable, but it's essentially one step forward two steps back if these same people are voting for politicians because they hold similar views on abortion or gay marriage and then these politicians turn around and cut taxes for the wealthy in the form of stock dividends and capital gains that aid the top 1 percent of taxpayers who make over $1m a year, and all this against the backdrop of the 1/2 a trillion for iraq and the katrina catastrophe and the medicare drug benefit. so what happens? fewer food stamps, less medicaid, and disappearing housing assistance -- all things that make real, palpable differences in the life of the poor and the very near poor.
That is quite a spring board for discussion!

I guess one of the fundamental differences is the view that government can cure all the ills. The US, with its might economy, has been tackling society's ills with increasing efforts over the last century. Yet, I would suggest that while many symptoms have been addressed, the ills remain. The government is only a subset of the people. All people can do far more than a government can. I would have a hard time calling a Libertarian morally irresponsible because they wanted a small government.

From the spiritual perspective, I can't imagine standing before the Throne and responding to the quesion "what did you do for the least of your brothers?" with a "Well, I voted for XX candidate and paid taxes." I think it would be misplaced moral suasion to think that my voting record took the place of my response to God's grace (through good works).

Jesus himself said, "the poor you will always have with you". But he also told us to take care of the poor - not look to the government to do so. And I agree with coemgen, if we each do an honest self-assessment, we would find there was still more that we could do.
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Old 12-15-2005, 11:56 AM   #24
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I guess one of the fundamental differences is the view that government can cure all the ills.


no no no no.

that's not what i'm saying at all. nowhere did i say that government was the panacea. i'm saying that there are certain problems that only government has the organizational capacity to address -- housing, education, etc. charities and individuals cannot hope to do it alone, and many people who do serious volunteer work in inner-cities that are plagued by generations of poverty will tell you that no matter how many after-school basketball programs they coach or how many kids they tutor after school, the problem is simply too vast, too systemic, too rooted in history for any individual to solve, or even many individuals to solve.

however, this is not to say that government alone is enough. it certainly isn't. and i admire the charitable spirit of the religious (and non-religious, of course, but that's not what we're talking about here), but we fool ourselves into thinking that our individual efforts working in a food bank is enough to combat homelessness. or that working for Habitat is enough to combat increasingly unafforadble housing.

i think skepticism of government is a good thing; i think outright derision and paranoid suspicion of the "guvment" is a bad thing, and that's what plagues the efficacy of the American government (along with rampant cronyism, but that happens all over).

i don't think the advocacy of a smaller government, in and of itself, is immoral; but i do think it's 100% immoral to push through $60B in tax cuts while reducing food stamps, pouring money into an Iraqi sinkhole, and dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. the fiscial irresponsibility of the Republican controlled Congress is appaling, and it's going to be your children who are going to have to pay for it all.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:11 PM   #25
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Originally posted by Irvine511

i don't think the advocacy of a smaller government, in and of itself, is immoral; but i do think it's 100% immoral to push through $60B in tax cuts while reducing food stamps, pouring money into an Iraqi sinkhole, and dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. the fiscial irresponsibility of the Republican controlled Congress is appaling, and it's going to be your children who are going to have to pay for it all.
nbc -- I agree with you that the government can't cure all ills but Irvine is right. Last year, one of the reasons people said Republicans won so many federal seats and the presidency was because their policy positions appealed to those who identified themselves as evangelical Christians. If you run on a platform that you are a good Christian, you have to act like it. It's hypocritical to be against abortion but not find a way to feed the starving children who are born in poverty because a woman decided to carry through with her pregnancy.

I can do what I can and give to charity but I am no Bill Gates. My donation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars can't reopen a VA hospital closed due to a lack of government funds. My donation to a food bank can buy a turkey for a family, but what about the rest of the year when they can't afford food because they don't have food stamps? We all have a responsibility to take care of those less fortunate and you don't get an exception to that if you're standing on the floor of the Senate.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:24 PM   #26
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I disagree with the notion that the governement is the best organization.

I believe in keeping my money and using it by donating it to causes that I choose to donate too. I do not believe that the governement is the best place for it.

There are plently of examples of pork and misuse of tax money.

When I chooses to take what money I have and give to my church, my local homeless shelter for example, I am better able to if I am not giving my money to the government.

It is a HUGE assumption that people make that the tax money that I or any other person wants saved is not going to be used in a productive manner.

How this makes me any less of a "Christian" is besides me.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:26 PM   #27
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[Q]but this gets to precisely the heat of the issue -- it doesn't matter how many hospitals you sing in or how many food banks you organize, the fundamental causes of homelessness, poverty, and most of society's ills are simply too complex to be tackled by individuals and charity groups. [/Q]

I disagree completely here. The donation of time serving another is as great a gift as the dollar.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:43 PM   #28
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I can do what I can and give to charity but I am no Bill Gates. My donation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars can't reopen a VA hospital closed due to a lack of government funds. My donation to a food bank can buy a turkey for a family, but what about the rest of the year when they can't afford food because they don't have food stamps? We all have a responsibility to take care of those less fortunate and you don't get an exception to that if you're standing on the floor of the Senate.
I think you sell yourself short here. Sure a government agency can crank out more food stamps than you. But, your handing of a meal to a family in need carries far more than just food. You are the face of hope, not a government agency. You give hope and a future - not a meager dependency on future handouts.

Another important factor is the role we all play. You vs. the government is not a fair match-up. If it were the people of the United States vs. the United States government, the people win. Too many people sit home and do nothing because they think it is the government's problem. If we all tackle the problem, on a personal level - the results would be far beyond what we've come to hope or expect from government.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:43 PM   #29
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[BI disagree completely here. The donation of time serving another is as great a gift as the dollar. [/B]


i think that's a nice thought, but in terms of actually addressing big problems, i don't think it's true. time spent doesn't build affordable housing or pay Head Start teachers.

it might do well for an individual on an individual level, but speaking from the experience of working with high-potential, traditionally under-served kids, one person cannot and will not make a dent against the odds stacked agains these kids *unless* it is through the mechanism of government.

government is neither good nor bad. it's as good or bad as we allow it to be.
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:54 PM   #30
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coemgen -- EXACTLY! It's the same with same-sex marriage. How many times is same-sex marriage mentioned in the Bible? Sort of one. How many times is helping lepers mentioned in the Bible? Alot! Today's lepers just come with a different label -- AIDS -- and yet we don't want to help them. What about helping the poor? Alot! And yet we don't want to help them.

I've heard it said before and I believe it to be true -- you aren't a Christian if you go to Church on Sunday to worship God. You are a Christian if you walk out of that Church and live your whole life as if you were following God. There is a difference.
Well said, sharky!
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