Christian thinking has a strange relationship with poverty. There is at the one hand a strong a call for charity,  to aid the poor, the opressed, and those in need. On the other hand, there is:

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

via Luke 6. And Romans 5:

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

So, imagine for a moment, that the dreams of the world economists is bears fruit. That by intelligent policy the world leaders managed to thread the needle between freedom and social networking/support and as well come up with a workable plan and solve the “bottom billion” problem and poverty world-wide is solved. Everyone on the planet by dint of management of resource and economic management is now wealthy. Poverty is no more.

Then … no more will anyone be able to rejoice in his suffering … and have endurance, character and thereby hope (see Benedict on Hope).  Everyone will be as shallow and hedonistic as the average American, without the tempering of either latent Puritan or religion to guide them. Oh, joy.

Furthermore, how should we interpret “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” … Does that urge us to aid the poor and help them to become wealthy like us … thereby of course causing them to lose the kingdom of God (for there reward will then be in the here and now). Or does is more likely mean that we should not ourselves run the treadmill seeking salvation, ease, and happiness via material things.

So what is the way clear of this apparent paradox, that we are to help the poor … but that being poor is in and of itself a good thing. I have some thoughts … but I’m going to leave them for a later time.


Filed under: ChristianityMark O.Religion

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