Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 5

"In the Market We Trust"
I had a liberal, secular professor in my senior year of college at Chico State. There is a redundant statement. But if this professor was liberal at Chico State, they were pretty liberal, but it is in her that I saw Christ shine brilliantly, more so than many Christians I encounter. We discussed world problems the globe over and each time her heart bled in all the ways Christ's did. I saw her teach with fury about injustice, I saw her walk with humility in her own struggles against the world and try to make sense of the things of God. She looked like Micah 6:8, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

There is one phrase that stood out to my over the course and it had little to do with the actual lecture. We ended up talking about poverty and poverty reduction. I mean, we all want poverty reduction, don't we? But then she said something so Jesus, I will never forget it. She said, "We all need to scale back our lives, buy less, become more simplistic, meat should be only on special occasions, become poorer to elevate those around us." As simple and maybe obvious as this statement might be, she said it and my jaw dropped. As many times as I read Christ to say this same thing, and never once heard a Christ-follower say it, blew me away. Even more than this, many Christians today preach a view far more destructive. Wealth and money and materials are NOT hurtful in and of themselves. These Christians would be right and biblical to say this, but they go to such great lengths to say, live, teach this, that they have blurred the lines where comfort actually does start to destroy us a bit each day. I mean, no one ever thinks they have crossed the line until their world collapses and as Christians we should be so much smarter than to have to have our world collapsed because we have so desecrated God's word. I mean, not only do we have personal and collective testimony to evidence the destructive and deceitful powers of wealth, but it has literally be revealed to us by prophets and God himself (Matthew 13:22, just to name one of literally a thousand). Here is what Jesus for President says:
Another, possibly the greatest, unholy aspect of our economy is its exploitation of people. While our economy floats on cheap oil, it too is carried on the backs of cheap laborers. If we ask, Why do so many of our products come from China? we can certainly say this is aided by the cheap oil for shipping, but it's essentially founded on easily exploited labor. The hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been lost in the United States testify to "job creation" in foreign countries. Left in the wake are our neighborhoods, blighted with hundreds of abandoned factories and hundreds more abandoned homes. Christians have no problem helping the poor. But question whether our 'blessings' are borne on the backs of the poor and things get messy. The call to 'Make Poverty History' needs a partner: 'Make Affluence History...' Into the economics of the world, the letter of James speaks a word of rebuke: 'The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty' (5:4). This isn't simply about fairly paying the immigrants who mow our lawns; it's about the way our world's economy siphons wealth from the poor up to the rich. And we are all apart of it." (Jesus for President, pp. 188-189).

What is our role? Are we comfortable in our participation? What does Christ command of us? What does simplifying look like? Do we justify affluence far more than scripture allows?

Christ, May you heal us and open our eyes that have been closed from birth. May we be healed of this blindness of not seeing your Kingdom and our empire as different entities. We repent of our action and inaction in the subjugation and violence committed on our behalf for material possession. May we cast off all things that hinder us from running the race well. May you grant us the fortitude to resist the latest fashion trends and non-important technological advances. May you grant us peace, not as the world offers, but your peace in this generation of hyper-speed. May we see comfort as a great enemy. But mostly may your love and hope shine through us, to our enemies, to our friends, but most of all, to those we have forgotten about and showed only apathy.

Blessings and Peace!

P.S.
I literally just heard Ashton Kutcher say that if fat people gave poor people more food we would solve the problems of obesity and poverty at the same time. To which Jimmy Kimmel replied, just try prying the pizza from my hands. I don't know what is more telling, their conversation, or my watching this dribble.

3 comments:

  1. So go live in a cave.

    http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com

    As long as you live in this country, pay taxes etc., you are benefiting from and supporting everything you are writing against.

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  2. It makes me so sad that I can read the words of Jesus so many times and not realize that I am not living a life which financially looks anything like Jesus life.

    My Biblical Theology professor John Wright argued, via The Nightmare Before Christmas, that when the narrative is taken out of the culture and practicing people and placed into a different culture and practicing people it doesn't mean in the same way. At this point I have to ask myself, are we "Christians" living in Biblical culture or North American United States market driven culture?

    That answer sucks to hear...

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  3. Anonymous~ Thanks for turning me onto that blog! A wealth of info and experience! I finally have some new reading. To withdraw from the empire is messy, necessary, and a longsuffering. But we can start slow with the intention of total separation. Look at food. We can start growing food on the plot of ground that Christ has called us too. If your plot isn't big enough, this guy finds (http://paceebene.org/blog/jarrod-mckenna) empty lots and makes gardens for the community. Growing your own food, shopping away from the empire, like, your local farmers market. Once you have food and clothes, what more do you really need. These become wants and with wants we can do endless research about companies and people's moral and environmental footprints. I agree with you that we can never really escape the system/matrix, partly because the sun never sets on the empire and partly because the empire is inside us, but we can do a lot differently to make a huge impact.

    Jason ~ Your question lines up very much with a question I just read in JfP. It was, "Do we read America with biblical eyes or do we read the bible with American eyes?" (paraphrased from memory). You are correct; the answer is not so good.

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