“Charity functions to keep the wealthy sane. Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, also function as outlets that allow wealthy Christians to pay off their consciences while avoiding a revolution of lifestyle. People do their time in a social program or distribute food and clothes through organizations which take their excess. That way, they never actually have to face the poor and give their clothes, their food, their beds. Wealthy Christians never actually have to be with poor people, with Christ in disguise.” (>>)
“We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet, most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong in the world. We attend our kids’ soccer games, pursue our careers, and take beach vacations while 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos, and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America.” (>>)
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” (>>)
“But when I hear about a church spending $130 Million on a building campaign, I get pissed off. That is money stolen from poor and homeless people, from hungry children unable to eat day-to-day, from programs that would have helped people survive. […]
“And for what? Leather seats for the large dollar contributors while many families within the community have no furniture at all to sit or sleep on? […] Numerous wide-screen TVs to read the songs lauding how much you love the Jesus who told you to give it all up and take care of the poor, the widows, the sick, and the imprisoned? A large fountain that pumps a massive number of gallons of water when people have no clean water to drink?” (>>)
“The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.” (>>)
“For those who do not have reliable access to basic social goods, the primary enemy of freedom is not government interference but, rather, the lack of resources that are necessary conditions of valuable choice.” (>>)
“My experience with the mentally ill on the streets is that there is a place in them that is sacred, and they can touch it in the presence of one whom they can trust, a person committed to walking with them through the minefields.
“I went out for fresh air one recent evening and walked past a young man who was engaged in a conversation with a mannequin in the display window of a large department store. It was as though he and the mannequin were having coffee together: the disturbed guy making his points, his fingers jabbing holes in the air, and the enigmatic, gazing mannequin, its slight come-hither smile egging him on.
“People are talking to themselves all over the Burnside area – indeed, in every city I have ever been in. How does one wind up talking to oneself or to an inanimate object? What is the breaking point, how much illness must exist, how much pain and suffering must be endured before the intimate and precious part of ourselves becomes unmoored and floats away, making us incapable of normal human intercourse?
“The anatomy of loneliness is a very visible one in the city. It’s true, there are many mentally ill people whose inner processes drive them to a disconnection with the world around them, and one can only hope that medication and proper mental health facilities will assist them in their search for human connection. On the other hand, many individuals, I think, are driven to talking to themselves and to the mannequins of their lives because there is no one around to listen to them or care about them. They aren’t mentally ill; they’re just lonely. Some folks connect more with the cockroaches, mice, cats, dogs, birds, and plants in their single resident occupancy rooms than they do with other human beings. This is not so much by choice as it is a result of the poison of human disregard.” (>>)
“I’ll admit that I find plenty to wince at when I’m at Westlake, but show me another large, vibrant movement without these problems and embarrassments that addresses social and economic inequity and the erosion of our democracy, and I’ll be the first to sign up, but until then, the Occupations will have to suffice.” (>>)
“I have also learned that my social location — that is, my place in this world as a privileged Anglo North American male, can actually hinder my ability to see and serve. Power, privilege, and resources can actually impeded my service because they limit my ability to learn and listen. Those of us born into privilege tend to think we have the answers because we have all the resources. We cannot minister effectively with this attitude. We must pour ourselves into service even as we pour out our preconceived notions of the people we serve.” (>>)
“64% of jobs in King County do not pay a wage that will provide for the basic necessities for a family consisting of two adults and two children with one wage earner.” (>>)
“And that’s when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and towards justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: ‘When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.’ Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get cruicfied for charity. People get crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping the poor. People are crucified for joining them.” (>>)
This is cool. I’m going to try it.
“The ONE Campaign seeks to give Americans a voice, to ring church bells and cell phones, on campuses and in coffee shops, for an historic pact to fight the global AIDS emergency and end extreme poverty. We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food, would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries. ” (>>)
“So we were essentially dilettantes, I and the other students who worked part-time in the East Harlem Protestant Parish, up and coming dabblers in the down-and-out. We came, and we left, and in the end we left for good and were glad to. But there were others, the regular parish staff, who gave their lives to it. They didn’t just work with the poor. They lived with them. They made their homes in the same kind of tenements. They ate the same kind of food. They raised their children there and sent them to the same schools. Their backgrounds were more or less what mine had been. They were educated, resourcesful, attractive people, who, you felt, if success had been what they were after, could have been successful virtually anywhere. But they had put this all behind them for a life whose rewards seemed to me as inward and obscure as its penalties seemed blatant and grim. I am sure that their motives were as mixed as everbody else’s and that they were as full of shadows as the rest of us. There were times when you couldn’t escape the feeling that, no matter how hard they fought against it, they thought of themselves as a kind of spiritual elite and of all other types of Christian service as comparatively irrelevant. There were times when their lightness of heart seemed forced and artificial and when their total immersion in the life of the ghetto seemed to border on the perverse. There were occasional glimpses of bitterness, envy, dissemblance among them, and some of them obviously rang truer than others. But be that all as it may, they neverlessess seemsed, at their best, closer to being saints than any other people I had ever come across; and the quality of their saintness, the face it wore, the effect it produced, struck me as revealing something not only about themselves but about Christ, whose saints they were.” (>>)
“For the children of the working poor, getting an education has become not so much a test of intelligence as one of endurance.” (>>)