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View Diary: Why Do Fundy Christians Love the Rich and Hate the Poor? (324 comments)

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  •  One response to Jesus's words (18+ / 0-)

    was to question how people could get into heaven if it was so difficult. The response was "with God, all things are possible."
    It is in fact very difficult for a rich person to live a virtuous life.

    Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

    by emidesu on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:55:43 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's difficult for anyone (20+ / 0-)

      to live a virtuous life, but some could try harder.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:50:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is impossible for the rich to be virtuous... (53+ / 0-)

      You need to read the passage in context.  Read the whole passage and it comes quite clear what was meant.  In the passage to which you refer (Matthew 19:20-26):

      Jesus was asked by a virtuous rich man what ELSE he could do as he obeyed all the commandments.  Jesus told the man the only thing the man needed to do was to sell everything he had and give it to the poor and then, "...come and follow me..."  When the rich man refused to give up his riches, Jesus watched the man walk away in tears because the man was so tied to his comforts he could not give them up. Then Jesus turned to the crowd and commented, "Truely, it is harder for a rich man t enter the gates of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle...." (Matthew 19:16-25.  

      Yes the next passage (Matt 19:26) is about Jesus' apostles being astonished when he said that, and his comment that "with God all things are possible..." but again you have to understand it in the context of the times ~ and actually our times as well.  

      There is a mistaken belief that if you are rich than somehow God loves you more than poor people.  This is something the rich hold over others' heads with all three of these religons in spite of the very strict and quite clear mandate and morals that all say "You SHARE." Jesus was telling his followers, God favoring the rich is not true.  Poverty is where God walks as says over 1700 passages in the Bible, which includes the Pentanteuch or Torah, the 1rst 5 books of the Bible that all Christians share with the Jewish faith. Because the poor are poor and suffering, thanks to the hoading of the rich and the poverty community is where God's mercy and compassion is most evident.  

      First of all as Jesus was trying to say, when you are rich it is much easier to "follow the law".  As it was in Jesus' time, just look at our own system where "following laws" are often quite expensive.  For instance in Jesus time it was a sin to walk more than 1500 feet on the sabbath.  But if you have servants or slaves to fix your meals and do your work while you "rest" on the sabbath,  you still obeyed the law.  If you were poor and had to tend your animals and cook your meals, tend your kids, etc, you continually broke the law.  If you did "sin" and walk more than 1500 feet, you merely went to the temple and paid a fine for doing so and VOILA!  Youi were instantly forgiven ~ but the poor could not afford to do that every time they broke a law even if it had to be done in order to survive.  

      Nowadays if you are poor and for instance you have to get kids to daycare and yourself to work, you may drive an uninsured beater car because it is the only way you can do this.  If you are caught disobyeing the law, you are looked down upon, considered "irresponsible", you have to pay a big fine and are forced to pay for insurance and if you cannot do this, you are further punished and have to go to jail.  Both times are punishments for "sinning" by disobeying the law.  Both times, being rich would allow the law to be obeyed.  

      Another passage addresses the paying of taxes.  When  Jesus was asked if these taxes should be paid (a complicated question because paying those taxes was often an affront to Jews to pay money to Caesar, but also a "virtue" when you could go to the temple and pay your fine for violating Jewish laws).  Jesus asked for a a coin that was given to him.  It bore the head of Caesar.  He pointed out who was on the coin and then he said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God, that which belongs to God..."  The reason this comment angered the religious community then was, that the REAL question was, to Whom does the universe belong ~ does it belong to God or to Caesar? They knew that of course the world belongs to God NOT to Caesar or anyone benefitting from those taxes (mostly the rich).  

      The truth is hoarding more than you need is a sin and not only Jesus makes this quite clear, so does the whole idea of his and the Christian religion.  If you call yourself a person of faith you have to know and acknowledge that all you have belongs to God, it is not yours.  If you are not sharing that which belongs to God, you are withholding God's resources from others.  Therefore the rich who refuse to share their wealth while their nieghbors starve are sinning merely by keeping it instead of sharing.  No, God does not want us to starve, but sharing of God's resources is the way for ALL to have enough as it says the early Christians lived where they shared everything and each got "according to their need..." (Act 2:46)  

      It is a stretch and rediculous to think there was some gateway called "the eye of the needle".  Even if there was, it is quite plain it is important to anyone who can read you should share what you have instead of making excuses for hoarding more than you need.  Yes, storing up for the winter is a good thing because it sustains you though the time you and your loved ones need it until you can go out and find more ~ and sharing what you have with those who don't have enough is one of the marks of a true person of faith because, "Considering the lilies of the field," is a message to all to have faith that God always provides enough (Matthew 6:28) and that if you share, all will have enough, including you.  A king rarely starves along with his subjects because he always has more than enough but if he does not share his bounty, his subjects WILL starve....

      It s more evident than ever with the income disparity we see today that being rich means keeping much for yourself while the rest starve.  You cannot call yourself a person of faith and do this.  Therefore sitting on WAY more than you need is a sin. Period.  

      My 2 cents
      Cat in Seattle

      First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

      by mntleo2 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:49:24 AM PST

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      •  The Jewish scriptures teach that both wealth & (5+ / 0-)

        poverty are bad for a person's spiritual growth and ethics.

        Proverbs 30:8-9

        8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
        give me neither poverty nor riches;
        feed me with the food that is needful for me [lit: "daily bread'],
        9 lest I be full and deny you
        and say, “Who is the Lord?”
        or lest I be poor and steal
        and profane the name of my God.

        I remember these words and laugh every time someone says it's "Marxist" to expect more theft among poor people.

        "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-900-8

        by Kimball Cross on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:16:43 AM PST

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        •  Proverbs ...an interesting saying ... (5+ / 0-)

          I have NW Native friends whose Elders told me that in their culture (which lasted for over 10,000 years before the white man came), there was no such thing as "stealing" since all they had belonged to God.  They had no concept of borders (Chief Sealth could not imagine them saying, "How can you cordone off the forest as if you can measure the air")?  If someone needed a blanket, they got one, this was the way it was. Anyone that had more than they needed shared ~ and it was OK for a person to enter another's lodge in order to get one if there was more than that resident needed.  The Potlatch was like the Jubilee the Jews celebrated where all belongings were redistributed so all had enough.  

          I know it is strange to our cultures, so many who think that everything in their possesion is "mine" but when you look at the world through the eyes of my friends (and perhaps Jesus and other sages), you realize there really could be no such thing as "stealing" if we had that paradiegm shift.  Greed is something we all have, but it is almost impossible to legislate in our culture.  I know this is not something I will ever see but ...depending on the way this is looked at, greed could be discouraged if sharing "what belongs to God" were woven throughout the culture and maybe greed would become an action to avoid in societies such as my friends' ancestors and it certainly appears greed was definitely an important action to curb according to the Rabbi Jesus.  

          Just trying to think outside the box here, lol

          First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

          by mntleo2 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:26:48 AM PST

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          •  No, we can't make greed illegal (0+ / 0-)

            but we sure in the living hell shouldn't pass more laws or embrace more philosophies protecting greed, either. "Trickle down economics" is a perfect example, it simply pretends no one ever gets greedy, hence there's no point in trying to punish something (or issue incentives to avoid something) that never happens.

            “Nice country you got here. Shame if something were to happen to it” --the GOP philosophy to governing as described by Paul Krugman

            by dwayne on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:34:39 AM PST

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      •  beautifully done!!! preach it and teach it!!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        avsp, elwior

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
        Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:09:25 AM PST

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      •  The eye of the needle excuse is absurd. (18+ / 0-)

        Why would Jesus say, in essence, that it's harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through a slightly narrow gate?  

        He'd just told the man to go and sell all he had and give the money to the poor. Why then downgrade that suggestion by implying that rich people can get into heaven just fine, they only have to try a little harder?

        Rich people will do anything to justify refusing to share their wealth.  Including distorting the Gospels.  

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:11:05 AM PST

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        •  There's validity in both interpretations (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David PA

          The eye of the needle was that gate, but the only way through it was to get off the camel and get rid of things--which fits metaphorically with many of Jesus' teachings that love of money impedes one's love of God and ability to follow Him.

          Of course, fundamentalists do not like to admit that the Bible includes metaphors, even though Jesus used them frequently to make it easier for humans with limited understanding to understand the ineffable. For some, it's all literal.

          I guess I do not see metaphor as being outside of God's order. Like all figurative language, metaphor helps me understand difficult things better, and that includes my faith. JMO

          •  Great Wisdom (0+ / 0-)

            There is great wisdom in your analysis.  Those of us who do not take the words of the bible literally must avoid the very traps we accuse fundies of.  To the degree that we embrace literalist arguments we are condemned to dogmatism and error.

        •  Like other stories in the Bible, (0+ / 0-)

          this one has always left me on the edge of my seat. Did the rich man think about it later and sell his goods? The author never tells us. I guess we are to meditate on it and come to our own conclusion.
          The Bible is not met to be taken literally. When read as such, it is so limiting.

          What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

          by cagernant on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 01:51:20 PM PST

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      •  uh, actually ... (6+ / 0-)
        But if you have servants or slaves to fix your meals and do your work while you "rest" on the sabbath,  you still obeyed the law.  If you were poor and had to tend your animals and cook your meals, tend your kids, etc, you continually broke the law.
        Exodus 20:10:  "But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the foreigner within your gates."

        I have no doubt that there were wealthy people in Jesus's time who considered themselves pious if they rested on the Sabbath while their servants worked, but that was (and still is) a direct violation of the letter of law, not just its spirit.

        Tending one's children and animals is not Sabbath-prohibited labor.  Cooking is; observant Jews would cook their Sabbath meals on Friday, as we still do today.

        Further: sinning and bringing a sin-offering to the temple did not guarantee immediate forgiveness or social acceptance.  Further still: there were specifically outlined allowances for sin-offerings for those who could not afford the heavier offerings.

        You are quite correct that in many ways being wealthy made (and still makes) it easier to obey the law, but those specific examples don't really work.

        •  Thanks for the clarification (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fiddlingnero, Dave the Rave, INMINYMA

          I am interested in the customs of then compared to now as well as the changes this sect of Judaism brought and really appreciate this.  

          I can tell you as someone who has lived in poverty all my life, what is considered "affordable" to one with money and what is affordable to one without is still something to consider so perhaps I oversimplified this too much.  And as you say the letter of the law is not always observed ...

          Seriously, thank you so much for making things a little clearer.  As Jesus was Jewish I do believe that in order to be a good Christian, Christians should first be a dutiful Jew.  

          Respectfully, Cat

          First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

          by mntleo2 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:50:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was raised Orthodox Jewish by two teachers (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            INMINYMA, YsosadisticGOP

            so my default setting is always "clarify and explain".  :)

            The letter of the law is definitely not always observed, and the spirit of the law sadly neglected even more often, especially those about greed and corruption and mistreating/ignoring the less fortunate.  A lot of people in religious communities today talk as though this is a new phenomenon (and usually blame it on modern American materialism), but really, all you have to do is read the Prophets -- especially the later ones -- to see that it's been that way since pretty much ever.

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