Sunday, October 31, 2010

Redistribution of Wealth

My friend would get terribly excited when the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes information would come in the mail.  She'd lick every sticker and fill out each blank on every page of advertising that was sent and mail it back speedily.  She would then pray to the Lord, asking if he would let her win, she would give this much to one charity and that much to another. I don't fault her for her sentiments, because I've bargained with God before on many occasions.  But what I would ask her, cheekily, at that time was, "How much are you giving to these concerns now?" I was, of course, being a little smug, but my point was that we should be sharing the wealth that we have now rather than waiting for God to make us richer.  

What makes us think that we will feel more charitable when we have more money?  If we aren't faithful with the little we have, how can we be faithful with more (or be trusted with more, as the Bible so aptly reminds us?) We are just fooling ourselves.

We also deceive ourselves when we think that we only want to make the world a more equitable place by taxing the rich and giving it to the poor. What we are saying, despite all of our pious cries for social justice, is this: "you have more than me and that's not fair." The truth is, "taking" (i.e., taxing) something from someone simply because they have more is not fair, whether practiced by highway robbers or the federal government.  If the problem were only the need for social equity!  Some are calling for retributive justice, seeking to punish the crimes of the past by taxing the present. 

My concern is with a government take-over of the justice business.  Laws do a terrible job of policing behavior. Take highway travel speeds, for instance. We know that excessive speed is dangerous. The government regulates the safety of highway travel by enacting speed limits.  Do these laws deter people from speeding? Hmmmm, perhaps somewhat. However, one usually reacts only to the police car on the side of the road or in the rear view mirror.  What we really need is internal conviction that driving too fast is selfish and dangerous and potentially deadly to oneself and others. In the case of social justice, we need the conviction that caring for the poor (feeding, clothing, teaching, and elevating from poverty) is the business of mankind. What we need is a response to the goodness and generosity we've been shown by sharing it with others.  "What do you have that you did not receive?" 

All who read this are incredibly wealthy.  You are, after all, reading this on a computer.  What have you or I to share and how much better are we able to do this than the federal government?  If we are not faithful with the "little" we have, how can we expect ourselves to be faithful with more?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a word for someone who sought and held onto the original teachings of the Bible, as best as could be ascertained.  It stood for someone whose faith wasn't swayed by fashion or folly. Slowly the word "fundamentalist" changed to mean a hard core, literal, intolerant interpretation of the Bible (or other sacred text.)  A couple dozen or so years ago there was small Christian revival in America.  Through the medium of television and radio, the message of Christ went out to millions in our country and around the world.  Unfortunately, the excesses of the televangelists have changed the term "evangelical" into a deprecatory term for someone who pushes their faith on others, money grubbing and intolerant of other faiths.  Recently the word "Christian" has gained the same negative connotation of a hateful, intolerant, bigoted zealot.  

You will see, before the year is out, the word "constitution" come to mean the same thing. Social architects are re-scripting our history and changing the meaning of our words.  For 200 years the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States with the Amendments and the Bill of Rights have been the bedrock of our country and a beacon of light to the world.  These amazing documents have been held in highest esteem and by searching out their original meanings (fundamentally) and teaching them to our children (evangelically) we have preserved a major portion of the freedoms bestowed upon our nation. 

Language limits or enables our ability to think creatively, expressively and accurately.  If the meaning of words changes, people's perspectives change.  The next word to morph will be "freedom." 

Isaiah 5:20
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!