Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why don't we listen?

Wouldn't it be a beautiful picture of the Kingdom if the federal minimum wage was instead a federal living wage? Why don't we have a federal maximum wage to compliment the minimum wage? Maybe then the United States wouldn't have the highest degree of income inequality of any other developed country. Maybe then so many people wouldn't be living below the poverty line while the richest 1% in the US owns 37% of the world's wealth. Maybe then CEO's wouldn't earn 275 times what an average worker earns or earn in a single work day more than that average worker earns in a year. We need a federal maximum wage. It is immoral for there to be a cap on how much governmental money a poor person can receive, and yet no ceiling at all for how much more money a CEO can add to their net worth. After all folks, you have 80 years or so here and then you can't take it with you. Why don't we listen to Jesus when he says not to store up wealth here on earth where moths can eat it? Why don't we listen to his parable about the nameless rich man and the homeless Lazarus. The rich man made his heaven on earth for his 80 years and was forgotten and cast away for eternity, while Lazarus suffered for his lifetime and was embraced by God. Why don't we listen?

I swear, I'm becoming a socialist more and more by the day. But, hey, I'm just trying to listen to Jesus.

And because I'm in grad school and taught to cite all of my information:

Statistics derived from:
Mooney, L., Knox, D., and Schacht, C. (2011). Understanding Social Problems. (7th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Better Way

I don't understand why if current schools are failing, the solution is more schools.
I don't understand why if current churches are not meeting the needs of their neighborhoods, the solution is more churches.
As if more men with guns will end a war quicker.
As if more money will make a wealthy person's life happier.

Why do we keep using the same old colonizing systems that have only served to perpetuate injustice? It is time for a new way. Time for a new path of love and coming alongside and dialogue with the oppressed and mutual care and sacrifice of self. In our world of greedy, power-hungry capitalists, does the way of the homeless Jesus have anything to say to those of us who are truly ready for something better?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What is justice?

This week has been exhausting, hectic, challenging, life giving, fun, and frustrating all at once. I have been in Residency for grad school which means that instead of my usual online class structure, for one week we are in-class intensive from 8AM to 5PM (or 8PM if there is a mandatory feeding/lecture). It is not all lectures, though; it is also a lot of experiential learning and Socratic discussion. In the midst of Residency, I have also been in Tech Week, or Hell Week, for Jesus Christ Superstar. I have not been a huge fan of this show the entire rehearsal process but this week it has grown on me more despite the grueling hours, last minute changes and additions, and incessant playing of the songs in my head from dawn till dusk. While the songs run on repeat throughout the day, I am expected focus on class and learning about the urban context and think deeply and ask questions and complete assignments. To be honest, I have enjoyed this semester far less than the summer semester, but what I have enjoyed is the challenge to my faith and chosen path that it has provided.

Yesterday, we went on a field trip of sorts to community development organizations. On a structural level, the two could not be more different, but both desired to help people and improve communities. But there was something about sitting there and listening to them that felt off to me. I felt like there was something key that we are missing in our desire to “do good.” Throughout the day as I listened to the work they do, their mission and goals, and how they carry out their values, a fire burned inside of me and I kept praying to Jesus, “Where is this coming from and what does it mean?” Complex issues of gentrification, poverty, employment, education, housing, etc. came up in the discussions and I felt this fire begin to mold and form a question that I was not sure I wanted to ask. I’ve been feeling this flame growing for weeks but yesterday I felt like it was about to burst out of me with this question, “Are we always destined to cause injustice in our pursuit of justice? Did Jesus ever do that in his ministry? If the answer is that he did not, then what the hell are we doing wrong?”

I do not know the answer, but I cling to this verse as I continue to ask the question:

He has showed you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8