Monday, December 15, 2008

Proverbs 17:5

"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."(New International Version)

"Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime. (The Message)"
Mock Defined from Webster's
1: to treat with contempt or ridicule : deride
2: to disappoint the hopes of
3: defy , challenge
4 a: to imitate (as a mannerism) closely : mimic b: to mimic in sport or derision
intransitive verb:jeer,scoff

Contempt defined from Webster's
1 a: the act of despising : the state of mind of one who despises : disdain b: lack of respect or reverence for something
2: the state of being despised
3: willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body

I don't know why, but when I look at this verse and these definitions, I think about being in Junior High and High School. I was a teenager during the 80's, which was an incredibly fashion conscious decade. In my little world, everyone wore polo shirts, but not just any polo shirts-they had to be Izod or Polo brand. Nothing else would do. I remember my mom finding me a silky white polyester Izod shirt from a thrift store. Sure, it had the emblem, but it was polyester. It was an old guy's golf shirt. It was what a poor poser would wear. Which is what I was. I wore it to school, but I could tell I wasn't fooling anyone.

When I finally got my 100% cotton, royal blue Izod shirt, with an alligator, it was like I had finally arrived. The cool kids even pointed it out, and I received just a taste of affirmation. But it didn't last, and I was relegated to that group somewhere between utter loser and barely socially acceptable.

I have been treated with contempt and mocked before. The majority of us have. What I never really questioned was why they had the right to treat me and my other non-Izod wearing friends with contempt.

How did these social mores develop in a group of High School kids that we would judge each other on what brand of clothes we wore? I mean, I was covered, I didn't smell and I wasn't wearing stripes and polka dots in colors that didn't match, but still, in my school, your status was judged on what you wore.

The short answer is that it was learned behavior. Learned from the media, learned from parents, and then learned from peers. Values were passed on that taught my classmates how to judge a person's worth and value in society. When people did not live up to those values, it was deemed OK to treat them with contempt, mock them, deride them, put them down.

Now, we know there is nothing new under the sun. These verses show us that showing contempt for people based on how wealthy they are has always been around. Even now, we hear people joke about people living in trailer parks or in the projects, or make fun of people that work at McDonald's. We joke about people driving broken down cars. I remember working at a warehouse where it was common to make fun of the guys in the prison work release program, because they drove scooters because they weren't allowed to have a car. Jokes about illegal aliens were really common in that warehouse too.

I won't use them, but we all have those rude names we use to describe those of our race or cultural group when we want to describe the poor screw-ups that never figure anything out and are always without money but always buy hope from a lottery ticket, and comfort in a bottle.

Back to the verses, treating the poor with contempt, mocking and despising them is nothing new, and its still current. While I'm not crazy about stating God desires a classless society, this verse does show that God does not see things the same way we do. He sees contempt for anyone he created as contempt for him. While God does not automatically see wealth as an indicator of intelligence, wisdom or character, he does however talk about problems that are exclusive to rich people and poor people alone-more on that later.
"Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all." Proverbs 22:2 (New International Version)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prov 14:31

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."(NIV)
"You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless; when you're kind to the poor, you honor God." (The Message)
What do we do with this scripture? It leaves very little grey area for mis-interpreting or looking for any shades of meaning. Yes, the first thing someone will ask is, "Yes, but are the people truly poor? Why are they poor? Was it something they did? Are they taking responsibility for their lives?"

While there is a place and time for some of these questions, this verse is not it. It's a statement without caveats. Oppressing the poor shows contempt for God-period. Being kind to the poor honors God-period. We don't see the exceptions of only the poor who are poor from no fault of their own, or only those who are truly needy, or those who spend too much on cigarettes or beer. There are other places in the bible that talk about slothfulness, drunkenness and other faults of the poor.

This is one of those places in the bible where we see God's macro view. It is reminiscent of another verse in the bible.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
The similarity between these two verses is this-whoever. Jesus died for the sins of all people-no matter how much they sinned-he died so they had a chance to have eternal life.

When we look at Proverbs 14:31 in comparison-that same feeling is there. God hates the oppression of the poor-even if their poverty is their fault, even if they have a lifestyle that contributes to their poverty-it doesn't matter. Oppressing the poor and needy still is contemptuous to God.

The hard question is, what do we do with this in applying it to life and business?

First off, lets remind ourselves what it means to oppress:

Oppress: to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power: a people oppressed by totalitarianism.

What strikes me about this definition is "Cruel or unjust impositions". Do we make it harder or easier for the poor to escape poverty? Is the level of profit that is taken in businesses that market to low income customers reasonable, or does it prey on the fact that it knows that desperate people will pay exorbitant fees because they have no other options?

At the heart of the matter is an age old question -"How do we treat those who have no power or influence over us?" For some reason, God sees that as the measure of our true feelings toward him.
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40
He doesn't care how much we give, or how often we go to church. Real religion, real devotion to him takes a much more concrete form.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas

Christmas is close at hand. It's my favorite holiday and time of the year. I was standing in church this week and looked up at the screen displaying the lyrics to a favorite Christmas carol.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing."
The arrangement was more modern than I care for. It seemed to be somewhere between Van Halen's "Jump" and something by Coldplay. I'm becoming increasingly annoyed as the church tries so hard to be relevant that we leave behind those things that need to remain timeless. I went to my niece's Christmas program the other night and there was choreography that looked like something a boy-band would do! What happened to simplicity? The message of Christmas does not need this kind of marketing for crying out loud! My niece did a perfectly lovely solo on a normal song. She did a great job and it helped aleve the snit that I have been fighting lately.

Even though the carol had backbeat and syncopation that was not intended by the original writer, the lyrics still spoke to me, especially the phrase "Let every heart prepare Him room". Christmas is the time when we are supposed to make room for God in our lives.

What does that mean? God does not live in a room, he does not occupy space and time the same way that we do, he doesn't need a guest room, or get mad if there is no little mint on his pillow. God is a spirit, so the idea of making room for him leads us to the idea of making room for Him in our hearts, thoughts, desires, and all that we are, since he is not a flesh and blood person.

While that is true, I think some people think that since God is not flesh and blood, there is no real need for any concrete, worldly actions to love Him. Going to church, thinking a happy thought, and throwing a buck into the bellringer's bucket seems to be all some of us need to do and are able to walk away feeling very pleased with ourselves. If we look to His Word, he doesn't let us off so easily.
"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.
For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen,
cannot love God, whom he has not seen." ~I John 4:20
We could ask all of the questions that go with this verse, "Who is my brother?", "What does it mean to love?", etc., etc. . But I prefer to cut through all the liberal-arts crap of questioning everything to death, and look at it this way: loving those around you is loving God.

At Christmas time, I always think back to one of my favorite parts of "A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens. This is the speech that Fred makes to Scrooge:
"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time,
when it has come round-apart from the veneration due
to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging
to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving,
charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of in the long
calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent
to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below
them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave,
and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
And therefore uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold
or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good,
and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Christmas time is God's way of reminding us that love without action means nothing. That love is not simply a sentiment, or charitable feelings that come but once a year. Instead, love is messy and complicated. Love chose to be ultimately manifested in the pain of childbirth by a young woman who society did not totally approve of, in a stable full of dirty animals. But love came, through the mud and blood of a lost and cold world, love still pushed it's way through. Love pushed through to give us it's gift, it was to a world that did not recognize the value or even appreciate the value of the gift given at the time.

The message of Christmas is that we need to do as God did and reach out in love to the world around us, no matter how messy or uncomfortable it may feel at the time.

Merry Christmas,


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Putting Churches in "Neutral" on Politics

Putting Churches in "Neutral" on Politics
Click the link to listen to a commentary by S. Pearl Sharp about the IRS going after a church in Pasadena that appeared to take sides during the last elections.
My own feelings are kind of mixed on how churches should preach when it comes to politics. Neither party has it all together, and both are evil and good at the same time. God would not vote for either party, he would not endorse either party. We need to stop trying to put God into a box designed by man and instead try to find out what he wants us to do. Check out this scripture:
"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked
up and saw a man standing in front of him with a
drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him
and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army
of the LORD I have now come."
Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence,
and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for
his servant?" ~Josh 5:13-14(NIV)
I remember hearing our president say, "He who is not with us is against us."
I always found that troubling. Now I know why. Sure, we have to appear strong during a war situation, but I have been in churches where it was assumed that if you were a Christian, you must be a Republican. I have seen patriotic services where Republican and Christian are seen as the same thing, and if you weren't, you were misguided and stupid at best, and un-American at worst.

We need to speak the truth in our churches about the hot button issues, we need to say what the word says about them, but we need to speak about all the issues, not just gay marriage and abortion. Minimum wage, welfare, poverty, education, immigration-these issue should not be swept under the rug. If we are going to do one, we should do the other.

Then again, maybe we should seek no political agenda in our church and seek God's agenda. If we seek his truth, we will feed the hungry, take care of the poor, invite the strangers(even immigrants?) in, and politics will take care of itself as something that is a matter of conscience and not a matter of grass-roots activism under our steeples.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Proverbs 14:23

"All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."
Now here's a scripture that conservatives can get behind. There's no way to misinterpret it, or twist it around. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God told them that hard work would be part of the Curse of Original of Sin,
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your
food until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you
will return."~ Genesis 3:19
In the New Testament, we find a very similar verse that goes even further,
"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need."~Ephesians 4:28
This verse really brings home some other ideas about the nature of work. Work is not simply a method to fill your belly, it is what makes you a blessing to those around you. It is the way that you make the world a better place. You work, in order that you are not a burden to those around you, and so that you are able to help others, so they can become like you.

Work is meant to reproduce good in the world.

More and more, I suspect that charity based on the bible is meant to be spread like a virus. Each person is meant to work and in turn tithe to the church and take care of his family and friends, the church is meant to take care of the community at large, and the community at large is meant to be a blessing to the country, our country is meant to be a blessing to those in the world.

Instead, we have Christians that look to the government to take care of the poor and get annoyed when they hear the local pastor talk about money. Even if you don't believe in the tithe,(which I do), we can all agree that if we all gave a regular percentage of our income to the church, there would be less need for government programs that are so unwieldy they have a hard time being effective locally.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, October 02, 2006

Proverbs 14:20

"The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends"

Some proverbs seem to just be explanations of the way the world works, and point us towards why its wrong. Looking at this in a purely North American viewpoint, many of us can understand it readily. In many of us there is a fear to get involved with people that will be "too needy". Whether it is emotionally, socially, or financially, no one wants a friend that only "takes and takes without giving".

I've heard these sorts of sayings since I was a kid. Maybe its because we think that friends should be able to take care of themselves and our relationships will only be for mutual emotional support, and that helping them in more substantial ways, such as with finances, is something that will almost never happen.

This kind of friendship is not true friendship. It is a deep aquaintanceship. Only being friends with those that are in our same socio-economic group, with those that will never truly need our help is not real friendship.

Yes, friendship is meant to be a two-way street, but we have to be willing to get our hands dirty sometime if we want to be part of making the world a better place.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Do Democrats Want Christians in their Party?

Click the link to listen to an excellent commentary on NPR by Caroline Langston entitled, Conversion: Political, Not Religious.

She explains how she grew up a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and became a political liberal later on in her life. Most of the time, it's the other way around, you start out a liberal when you are "young and idealistic", and then become a conservative when you "understand the way the world works".

I really identified with her. My experience has been similar in that I was always more conservative when I was younger, but as I got older, I started doubting the status quo of the Republican party. I still find myself agreeing with them on many things, but not everything by a long shot.

What I found the most interesting about this is that she talks about the fact that much of the Left is not welcoming to Christians, and asks the question, "Is there room for me at the table, just as I am?"

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Christ Among Partisans

Read this very interesting editorial about Christians and politics.

Originally in the New York Times

THERE is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the occupying power but said only, "Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him" (Matthew 22:21). He was the original proponent of a separation of church and state.

Those who want the state to engage in public worship, or even to have prayer in schools, are defying his injunction: "When you pray, be not like the pretenders, who prefer to pray in the synagogues and in the public square, in the sight of others. In truth I tell you, that is all the profit they will have. But you, when you pray, go into your inner chamber and, locking the door, pray there in hiding to your Father, and your Father who sees you in hiding will reward you" (Matthew 6:5-6). He shocked people by his repeated violation of the external holiness code of his time, emphasizing that his religion was an internal matter of the heart.

But doesn't Jesus say to care for the poor? Repeatedly and insistently, but what he says goes far beyond politics and is of a different order. He declares that only one test will determine who will come into his reign: whether one has treated the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the imprisoned as one would Jesus himself. "Whenever you did these things to the lowliest of my brothers, you were doing it to me" (Matthew 25:40). No government can propose that as its program. Theocracy itself never went so far, nor could it.

The state cannot indulge in self-sacrifice. If it is to treat the poor well, it must do so on grounds of justice, appealing to arguments that will convince people who are not followers of Jesus or of any other religion. The norms of justice will fall short of the demands of love that Jesus imposes. A Christian may adopt just political measures from his or her own motive of love, but that is not the argument that will define justice for state purposes.

To claim that the state's burden of justice, which falls short of the supreme test Jesus imposes, is actually what he wills — that would be to substitute some lesser and false religion for what Jesus brought from the Father. Of course, Christians who do not meet the lower standard of state justice to the poor will, a fortiori, fail to pass the higher test.

The Romans did not believe Jesus when he said he had no political ambitions. That is why the soldiers mocked him as a failed king, giving him a robe and scepter and bowing in fake obedience (John 19:1-3). Those who today say that they are creating or following a "Christian politics" continue the work of those soldiers, disregarding the words of Jesus that his reign is not of this order.

Some people want to display and honor the Ten Commandments as a political commitment enjoined by the religion of Jesus. That very act is a violation of the First and Second Commandments. By erecting a false religion — imposing a reign of Jesus in this order — they are worshiping a false god. They commit idolatry. They also take the Lord's name in vain.

Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we took up the slogan "What would Jesus do?"

That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call him "Satan." He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts.

The Jesus of the Gospels is not a great ethical teacher like Socrates, our leading humanitarian. He is an apocalyptic figure who steps outside the boundaries of normal morality to signal that the Father's judgment is breaking into history. His miracles were not acts of charity but eschatological signs — accepting the unclean, promising heavenly rewards, making last things first.

He is more a higher Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, than a higher Socrates. No politician is going to tell the lustful that they must pluck out their right eye. We cannot do what Jesus would do because we are not divine.

It was blasphemous to say, as the deputy under secretary of defense, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, repeatedly did, that God made George Bush president in 2000, when a majority of Americans did not vote for him. It would not remove the blasphemy for Democrats to imply that God wants Bush not to be president. Jesus should not be recruited as a campaign aide. To trivialize the mystery of Jesus is not to serve the Gospels.

The Gospels are scary, dark and demanding. It is not surprising that people want to tame them, dilute them, make them into generic encouragements to be loving and peaceful and fair. If that is all they are, then we may as well make Socrates our redeemer.

It is true that the tamed Gospels can be put to humanitarian purposes, and religious institutions have long done this, in defiance of what Jesus said in the Gospels.

Jesus was the victim of every institutional authority in his life and death. He said: "Do not be called Rabbi, since you have only one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, the one in heaven. And do not be called leaders, since you have only one leader, the Messiah" (Matthew 23:8-10).

If Democrats want to fight Republicans for the support of an institutional Jesus, they will have to give up the person who said those words. They will have to turn away from what Flannery O'Connor described as "the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus" and "a wild ragged figure" who flits "from tree to tree in the back" of the mind.

He was never that thing that all politicians wish to be esteemed — respectable. At various times in the Gospels, Jesus is called a devil, the devil's agent, irreligious, unclean, a mocker of Jewish law, a drunkard, a glutton, a promoter of immorality.

The institutional Jesus of the Republicans has no similarity to the Gospel figure. Neither will any institutional Jesus of the Democrats.

Garry Wills is professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University and the author, most recently, of "What Jesus Meant."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Proverbs 27:17

"As iron sharpens iron,so one man sharpens another."~Prov 27:17

Below is a response from Michael Cross to my post entitled "Poverty Was The Ruin of Poor in New Orleans".

It's obvious that Michael and I don't agree on everything. But I have been impressed with his style of writing and obvious good heart that shows through in his writing. In the interest of fair play, and showing another side to the Christian view of what to do about poverty, I wanted to share this excellent response.

As a matter of intoduction, I found your blog as a link at Alison's Live Creative blog.

I'm not sure I follow you on this essay. I don't know anyone who blames the poor for being poor. People like myself may blame it on various government programs that enable, and encourage, the poor to remain poor, but not on the poor themselves. I know from experience that none of the government programs that exist are designed to help people to do better. They are designed to keep people in whatever condition they are in. That is a simple, sad fact.

Caring for the poor is a matter that is best left to the Church, because the Church has a vested interest in the well-being of our fellow man. Likewise, the Church, as an outreach within each of our own communities, is meant to deal with people on an individual level (as in, "personal relationship"). Which means that the Church, when it is acting as it was meant to, will be able to identify the individual needs of the people within their community, and address them in the most efficient way possible.

Unfortunately, the Church has abdicated it's responsibility in this matter in lieu of taxpayer funded welfare programs which are nothing more than "throwing money" at our problems. It is a shame that as Christians we have opted to allow some government agency to take our place in society as a provider for peoples needs. As a result of the Church's retreat from the public square, the government has also taken God's position as the arbiter of morality as well. Look around and tell me that isn't so, but I'll never believe you.

However, if giving money (or more money) to the poor were the answer to poverty, then why is it that over forty years, and trillions of dollars, haven't solved the problem yet? By the same token, raising the minimum wage doesn't really help the poor to do better. Instead, it leads to price increases across the board for nearly all goods and services. It also increases the amount of taxes that are paid by the poor. Meaning that while the paycheck may be slightly larger, it doesn't really stretch any further than the previous pay level. Besides, when one considers that a minimum wage job is meant to be something along the lines of an "entry level position", why should any business be forced to pay more for entry level experience.
And as for a "living wage", doesn't that depend upon how we choose to live? If you're willing to make sacrifices in order to make your money go further you can do just fine. For several years I supported a family of 4 on a little over $6 an hour. It's a matter of stewardship, being faithful with what God has blessed you with, and personal responsibility.

But, again, the programs which are in place, and our very culture, are at odds with the idea of personal responsibility. What we saw in New Orleans was not a result of race or social status. It was the mindset of people who had been told, perhaps for generations, that "The government will take care of "it".". So, when the governemnt failed to "take care of "it".", the people who were expecting help were left on their own. And we all saw the results of that.

Nobody faults the poor for being poor, or even for remaining poor, if they are making an attempt to do better. People like myself blame those who don't bother to try to do better because it requires greater effort than accepting monthly assistance. And we blame people for believing that they are owed something simply by virtue of the fact that they want it. And even more distasteful is the notion that people believe that it is morally superior to ask government to force businesses to pay more. Whether it be in the form of a forced "living wage" or through higher taxes. Nobody has that right.

But just so you don't think I'm some cruel, heartless, jerk...
Should companies pay more to their loyal employees? Yes. Should the wealthiest members of our society be willing to help the poorest? Yes. But should this be an operation of our government? No.

Jesus did not tell us to "render unto Caesar" so that Caesar could feed the poor. He told us, as individual disciples, to do His work on earth, and not to leave it up to others. Our calling is to interact with individuals, to change peoples hearts on a personal level. Not to ask our government to take the hard-earned wealth of our fellow citizens.

Consider Christ's teaching on "The sheep and the goats" (Matt 25:31-46). If the only charity that someone is giving comes from their tax withholdings, how is this seeing Jesus in need? Does this type of giving come from the heart?
You and I may very well agree that the poor and downtrodden ought to be helped. Where we differ is on who ought to provide that help and how.
Sorry about making this such a long reply, but you might never read it if I just posted it at my own blog.


Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Poverty was the ruin of the poor in New Orleans"

"The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor."~Proverbs 10:15(NIV)

When I considered why so many people didn't evacuate before Katrina hit, I started thinking about what it was like when we first got married and both had minimum wage jobs. We were in bad shape financially. I remember not having health insurance, and going to low-cost clinics. There were times when we had $10 for the week in groceries. That time of our life lasted longer than I care to remember. I remember being out of work, on unemployment and applying for relief. When I was a teenager I remember when my folks filed for bankruptcy and we lived with relatives for a while. I've been one of the working poor, and there is no easy way out.

I don't know what I would have done if I would have been in the shoes of the working poor in New Orleans. I may have made the same decision to try to ride it out. I would not have had the extra money to get out of town, or take the risk of taking time off for work. In low paying jobs, you can lose your job so much faster than in better paying jobs. There is no such thing as sick days or personal days, especially when all you can find is part-time work. I owned cars that I would have been afraid to take on long trips. If I was in New Orleans, and was as poor as I was when I first got married, I would have had to stay in the city and hope for the best like so many of the working poor that are suffering now.
"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans,"~Michael Brown, Director of FEMA
FEMA chief: Victims bear some responsibility
"To those who wonder why so many stayed behind when push came to water's mighty shove here, those who were trapped have a simple explanation: Their nickels and dimes and dollar bills simply didn't add up to stage a quick evacuation mission"~Wil Haygood-Washington Post
"Why the poor stayed in New Orleans"

I'm not going to spend any time bashing Michael Brown, the rest of the blogosphere seems to be handling that fine. Whether he meant to sound clueless or not, I think his remarks are a good example of a real lack of understanding by many in government, about what it means to be truly without resources.

I think there are a lot of people that seem to automatically define the poor as not smart enough to get out of town when disaster is coming.Its important to people that believe in what I call, at best, "boot-strap capitalism", and at worst, Social Darwinism, to define their world in such a way that so many failures of the poor are always the fault of the poor and no one else.
"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has."~Prov 21:20
Of course there are many of the poor that are making mistakes. When I was in bad shape, I was doing some dumb things with my money. I remember blowing money on things I didn't need and living in the moment. I could have been more responsible. I could have saved. I needed help to get out of an economic mess. But I paid my taxes, I worked overtime, I did everything I knew to do, but was still not making it.

When a person is drowning, you need to throw them a line, not criticize their swimming.

If we would get beyond blaming the poor for being poor, there remain larger issues. There is much more to poverty than just low wages and not knowing how to handle money. There are class and race issues, and there are many forces outside of just "working harder and saving more".
"Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty."~James 5:4(NIV)
There will continue to be working poor that are caught in disasters and calamities as long as this country continues to prefer profit over people. We will continue to see the ugly side of poverty as long as companies prefer to staff their businesses with entirely part-time workers at low wages, as if the entire work-force is in High School trying to pay for their tricked-out Camaro. As long as we continue to seek tax breaks to "spur economic growth", but never raise the minimum wage to any kind of real living wage for families, and get that confused look every time anyone mentions real health care reform, the human suffering that we saw in Katrina will repeat itself over and over.

Thanks for reading,