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Dennis Sanders
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This was a good article, Michael. I would agree with you that a Christmas ornament made my women Haiti probably don't have the same effect as say, buying fair trade coffee. Plus I kind of like those kitschy items. :) My own congregation has had to deal with this. We share the church building with two other churches, one of which is very much into social action. They insisted on having fair trade coffee to the consternation of some of our folks who thought it was too expensive and a waste of time. I agreed with them, but I didn't know how to best explain that to them or the other church. What I find interesting from this article and others is that the things we find "unvirtuous" are the things that really help the poor. Opening up the formerly closed economies of China, India and Brazil lifted a ton of people out of poverty, but that never gets lifted up in church circles. In fact, I am reminded when I visited Western China during my seminary years, some of my fellow seminarians lamented all the modernization taking place, something I didn't understand. (So, we want them to be poor?) I think we have a tall order on our hands in how we help Christians view how to help the poor. We tend to think poor are helped with and mostly solely by the government. Aid from the government is important and I'm not arguing for a some kind libertarian utopia. But a program like Food Stamps is not going to lift a person out of poverty, it is going to keep a person from being destitue and hungry. An important function, but I think many Christians focus on that alone and not on justice, lifting people out of poverty and less reliant on government assistance. Maybe that's why some Christians on the left were so in awe of Hugo Chavez and his programs in Venezuela. He basically feed the people, when there was food, but I don't think it transformed the nation into an economic powerhouse in the way that next door neighbor Brazil did (which has been ruled by two Socialist presidents, by the way). I'm still waiting for that book on Economics and the Christian, Mike. :)
Toggle Commented Apr 5, 2013 on Unfair Trade at Kruse Kronicle
This was a great post and I agree with Viola; it leaves you with a lot to think about. It's good to see you doing some long form posts again.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is my favorite Christmas (though it's really an Advent hymn) as well for some of the same reasons. I also loved both books as well.
Toggle Commented Dec 26, 2012 on O Come Emmanuel at Kruse Kronicle
They don't call the GOP the Stupid Party for nothing. I would agree that it makes sense to give into the demands to raise taxes on the rich. Not because I believe it would solve things, but it takes the focus off the GOP and on to the President and the Dems.
I think there are a few things going on here. First is that there is a lot of hubris going on. I've been around folks who will make a judgement on some group of people without really getting to know them. I believe what's behind that is a sense that their viewpoint is the right one and they want to make sure everyone knows about it. Part of the hubris comes from not really being in community with people who might share a different viewpoint (think the Big Sort). Since people aren't around other voices, they don't really get to know people, which then leads to us filling in the blanks. There's another issue that tends to bug me at times and might be related to this post. Many times, I hear people talking about the need to have a conversation on issues like race and same-sex marriage. Now being autistic, I tend to take thing literally, but I always thought conversation was people chatting with each other and more importantly, listening to each other. But the thing is, most of these discussions are not discussions but someone basically telling another person what they should think. That totally confuses me and frustrates me.
I don't know if I was clear previously, but am apprehensive about fracking. It is a way to get more energy, but I think we still have to determine what the cost is. Issues like the water are issues I've heard of before and it should give one pause for concern. But there are other issues as well. If fracking is a concern and if it was banned, this means getting oil from other sources or relying on electric cars which tend to be powered by coal. Are we willing to give up our energy usage? I just think trying to solve this issue is not clear cut or simple.
I've noticed that Christians for the Mountains also has issues with fracking? What do you think about it? I'm not automatically opposed to it, but I'm not automatically in favor of it either. The other issue I have is can we or should we get off coal. It's a pretty dirty energy source, but the alternatives of wind and solar don't produce enough on-demand energy and people are scared of nuclear power. The other concern is if you end coal production, what happens in those regions that are economically strapped as it is. If we need to get off coal (and there is a case to be made for it) how to do we do it in a way that won't hurt people economically in Appalachia? BTW, I don't think mountaintop removal was ever a good idea and it should be prohibited.
NKR, I lean conservative and don't want to get rid of social security. Most conservatives I know, and most white evangelicals I know don't want to get rid of social security either. I feel as though you are setting up a strawman to debate with (or yell at) instead of actually finding out what right of center folks actually think. You are free to disagree with those actual ideas, but at least be willing to find out and discern those ideas instead of using hyperbole. I would suggest that instead of having ready made answers at the ready, you listen to what's being said. You might actually see points of agreement as well as disagreement.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Bloodletting Economics at Kruse Kronicle
Megan McArdle has a good post on one problem with Rolling Jubilee: She also did a good rejoinder to a meme on Facebook that is critical of blaming the union workers for wanting raises while the execs were getting bonuses:
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2012 on Bloodletting Economics at Kruse Kronicle
All my life I've heard that the Bible talks about wealth and poverty more than any other topic, yet I find very few theologians who have ever taken even one class in economics. Amen. So, when are you going to write that book on Christian faith and economics? It is interesting that some of the same people who look to some odd verse in Leviticus as an example of how our economy should run today, are the ones who make fun of those who see the creation story in Genesis as scientific fact. Physcian, heal thyself. BTW, what do you think of this Rolling Jubilee that is being promoted by the Occupy folk?
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2012 on Bloodletting Economics at Kruse Kronicle
Thanks for sharing this and kudos to Bono for "getting it." I've never been there, but I wonder if this is why Haiti continues to be so poor. There are tons of aid workers there from what I know, and they were there even before the earthquake. I wonder if all this aid has made them dependent on it and has stunted any growth of the private sector. When you look at places like Brazil and even India, you see people slowly but surely coming out of poverty and it's being done mostly because they have economies that are growing and employing people. There is also a part of me that wonders if there is some "soft racism" going on. Most of the countries that are dependent on aid tend to be African or of African descent. It just always seems that at least in the eyes of people in the West, Africa is a problem to solved or someone to be pitied instead as a potential partner. It seems to me that the reason Haiti is poor and the reason so many African nations are poor is not because the mean United States is hogging money or because of evil capitalism. It might just be that we giving them the wrong kind of help. We are managing them as if this is a long term disaster instead of as the old saying goes, "teaching them how to fish."
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2012 on Bono, Capitalism, and Foreign Aid at Kruse Kronicle
Thanks for sharing this. I've been thinking a lot about mission trips and as well as mission work in general and this resonates with me. I remember going to mainland China in '99 through seminary. We visited people in villages in the remote southwestern part of the country. We didn't do anything other than eat and worship with them. I learned a lot from them and I learned what it meant to practice your faith in an authoritarian society (we had to travel with folks from the government for some reason). We never did anything but learn, and that was enough. I think one of Lupton's books is next on my reading list.
I love to interact and even hear people with differing views. What bothers me is how obnoxious those folks with different views can be with views that don't mirror their own. For example: here in MN we have a Voter ID vote on the November ballot. I think there are reasons for and against that make good sense, but the issue gets bogged down in the wrong that is on the other side (those in favor of voter ID are racists, those against are cheats) and it prevents reasoned and calm debate. The danger of social media is that it can be used as an outlet to blow off steam and say what you really think, all the while not realizing that such attitudes online can do a number on your Christian witness.
So, I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets concerned about how some pastors act online when it comes to politics. I've learned to tone things down in social media and try to be judicious are careful. That said, I am amazed at how some folks act that is just horrible. They don't treat the other side with any sense of respect or love.
I really like Mark Heard as well. It took me a while to figure that some of the songs I heard others singing were written by Heard. And yes, we do need more Mark Heards today.
I do have one problem with this article and that's the whole "depression" thing. I've been on anti-depressants and suffer from clinical depression and I know others who do as well. I don't think you can always tell someone to just "buck up" when they might not be able to without some medication or therapy. I will agree that liberals tend at times to not really deal with suffering, but trying to "forge ahead" at times is just not possible without some help.
I need to read the whole article, but it looks pretty good. Should the solution here then be that we learn to try to be faithful to scripture and also see it in context? That's how I tend to see the Bible with both issues.
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2011 on Care for the Poor - Unrealistic? at Kruse Kronicle
From one cat lover to another, you have my condolences.
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2011 on Isaac the Cat: 1992-2011 at Kruse Kronicle
Yes. That's why we have well-established bankruptcy laws and processes. The real goal of the federal intervention was not so save those companies (they would have survived and undergone necessary restructuring if they'd been allowed to go through bankruptcy), it was rather to protect the interests of the auto industry labor unions. This is probably where I am not as conservative as others. It really went against what I tend to follow, but I think that the government had to do something concerning the auto companies, not because of the unions but because of the situation. Mind you, this is a personal issue for me, because I hail from Michigan and both my parents are retired GM autoworkers. When the economy was melting down in 2008-9, it would not have made sense to just let the auto companies fail. Maybe they would have just gone through a normal process, but because the market was so unsteady and everyone got spooked, I don't know if either company would have survived the process. And what would happen if an additional 100K were thrown out of work? I don't know if the economy would have been strong enough to absorb the shock. If this had happened, say two years earlier, I would say the Washington should not have stepped in, because at that time, the economy was fairly strong. However, early 2009 was a shaky period and as we are finding out, we were pretty close to a total crash. More often than not, I think government should try to stay out of business' way. But if what business does has the potential to create harm to the greater economy, then government has to step in. Sometimes we do have to hold our nose and do the deed to stop the bleeding.
And thanks for responding. It helps me understand your take a little better.
Dan, I'm sorry if you feel offended by the discussion here. I don't think I'm here to bash liberals, but I do want to be able to share my views and to share some criticism about what might be considered liberal policies, because I don't feel that I'm able to share them in many mainline circles. I've had to spend many a time with my liberal friends saying rather harsh things about conservatives and what I've seen here has been rather mild. I'm not here to bash liberals. Most of my friends are liberals. My partner is an unabashed liberal. But that doesn't mean I can't be constructively critical and I would hope that you would respond in kind instead of going into a long, defensive rant that doesn't enlighten anyone at all. I should also add, that while I lean conservative I haven't "drunk the kool-aid." I have been critical at conservative policy, such as not accepting some tax increases. I'm all for a good argument on things like policy. It's how we all learn things. But what I don't like is when someone has a chip on their shoulder and decides to tear down other people who don't agree with them. It's not very civil.
So here is another question. In Minnesota, we are dealing with a shutdown of the state goverment. The GOP thinks it can balance the budget with only cuts and the Democratic governor wants to accept some cuts and raise taxes only on upper incomes. I'm not opposed to higher taxes, but I've had an issue with only taxing upper incomes while leaving the middle class unscathed. I've always considered that if taxes should be raised they should be borne by everyone save the very poor. There was a third party candidate that proposed broadening the sales tax, but he didn't win the election. Usually the case to be made taxing the rich only is that they pay a lower percentage of their income than other classes, even though they pay more. I've argued that a "tax the rich" strategy will hit more folks who are "upper middle class" that will pay a bigger share of the burden than they uber-rich. The other problem is that I don't think a tax-the-rich strategy will cover enough of the costs of government, which means that at some point people will come back to ask for more income. I guess I'm trying to get your views on this. I always seem to be in the minority, especially among mainline groups that thow in something about social justice to shore up their arguement. Again, I'm not against raising taxes, but I think they should be shared in proportion to income and not just focused at one segement of society.
Michael, I actually went back to read Armstrong. I think he makes some good points and I think what he might be trying to get at is that conservatives don't really have a meta-narrative or vision of their own. In many ways, they are just reacting to the meta-narrative of liberalism which has been the main story since the 1930s. I think the problem with Ryan's budget plan is that it really doesn't have a story to tie itself to. The genius of Reagan is that he was able to tie the conservatism of that day to the larger American meta-narrative and it worked. But today's conservative is more of a reaction than anything else and what we need today is a new story, because the older liberal story doesn't work anymore. Hope this makes sense...
Interesting. I would be curious to get your opinion on Paul Ryan's budget plan. I've heard a few folks say that it's anti-Christian. I don't think it's a perfect plan and it has issues, but it did get conversation started. Also, Ross Douthat also wrote a review Zakaria's essay:
I thought you might want to see my take on the whole Progressive Christianity thing.