Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Justice and Poverty: Resources and Questions

Here is World Vision's site regarding justice issues.

To see Sach's article (referenced in the sermon yesterday) go to UN's "Millenium Project" web site.

Here's a great site to be educated on the vital issues surrounding poverty and wealth globally.

Here are some video clips on the subject. In particular, check out the "Orphans of Nkandla"

(Thanks to Penny for her kind sharing of these resources)

Here are several thoughts looking for response.

How does the standard economic model, which states that everyone looking out for their own self-interest serves the good of the whole, square with the gospel's invitation to follow Jesus in his example of self-emptying? These seem contradictory.

It seems that there are a variety of responses available to us, ranging from simplifying our lives in order to give more, to working at discernment in our consumerism, to using our political and economic voices to work for policy change, to co-housing and greater intentionality in moving away from the individualism that characterizes our culture. How are some of you processing these things?

How can and should we process these things as a community?


At 1/8/05 15:22, Anonymous Sonja Erickson said...

Thank you Richard for preaching on poverty last night - it is good to hear from the pulpit. I am in the middle of reading the Jeffrey Sach's book, "The End of Poverty," you quoted from last night- and I would suggest it to any. It is a good lesson in the economics of the last 200 years - trying to understand how we got to this place where there is such a disparity between the devolped and developing countries; I guess the term says it all. I think the truth is that God calls us to be active in bringing his love and justice to the world - not just giving our 10% to missions and the church - but really being active. What I struggle with is how to be active. I do think one thing is to spread the word about poverty - I think the ONE campaign and things like the Live8 were great, but we should be talking about it with our friends over dinner and with our families. I currently work at the Gates Foundation in Global Health Advocacy and so my days are saturated with things like the latest White House Malaria Intiative, AIDS vaccinations and sending food to Niger -but then at the end of the day I go home and sometimes tell my husband some of the statistics of the day - and on exciting days, like the day the initiative was announced, I tell all my friends, but for the most part that is just work. How do I become more active? I hope as a community of believers we are willing to search that out together.
One last thought on how to help - I think of Niger and the famine crisis there right now. Niger is actually a democracy - has had a stable government for a few years and is not like some of corrupt governments in other African countries. The problem of Niger is that it has almost no natural resources and then the locusts came and then the drought and there is just not enough food. Their government was proactive and in November of last year asked the world for help - but not many answered, then came the Tsunami and all forgot about Niger - now it is a crisis. You may now see a few pictures on the news tonight because BBC started finally broadcasting them. So did democracy help? Did having a proactive government help? I don't think just having the right kind of government will help? So how can the church be active in these types of situations? What I do know is this - we all are in need of nothing - and it would be a great thing if we as a Church could start learning how to help others as Christ did. And thank you Richard for talking about this from the front - may we continue to talk about this all year round.

At 1/8/05 15:34, Blogger Donald Miller said...

i am grateful an evangelical church is spending time on the issue (grateful and convicted) and wonder if grappling with the issues of poverty, and being intentional and proactive in response to our reflection, isnt a spiritual discipline in itself. i was taught that the way you "do" christianity is to read your bible every morning, pray, and subscribe to a kind of ethic (loosly biblical) but now i wonder if we could be so bold as to say growth in christ involves caring for the oppressed, that is, this is how we grow in christ (or of the ways we grow in faith.)

At 2/8/05 14:28, Anonymous Bob Werner said...

Richard, you ask "How does the standard economic model ..square with the gospel...

Well, obviously it differs. The gospel points to the value of hard work, productivity, and accountablity as our response to a loving God and our understanding of our stewardship in the world. While "enlightened self interest" may indeed be the best alernative found in the world's system, it is a far cry from what we should be pursuing as sons of the kingdom. Equally obvious is our need to discern our own cultural blinders in the area of consumerism. Is there anyone that thinks we have not become very much "of the world" in the values we hold regarding material possesions and pursuits? Yet we can not arbitrarily set a defined amount of wealthiness that is in appropriate for God's people. That is a road to legalism and error. What we can say with confidence is that the life of the believer should be one characterized by contentment and servanthood. That will go along way to protect us from the excesses of materialism and covetousness.

I have been enjoying your blog and listening to the Sunday sermons. Its always a pleasure to hear your voice and be touched by your thoughts.

Love you, brother


At 2/8/05 15:56, Anonymous Penny said...

If anyone is interested here is another (concise, but not simplistic) resource having to do with the way our economic policies contribute to poverty, i.e. the way governmental protection of our wealth and our "way of life" contributes to the deaths of so many around the world.

May I just add that I am so encouraged by this congregation. May we continue to question our alliance with the world in this critical area so that our lives are 'channels, rather than containers' of blessing, as you so eloquently put, Richard.

At 2/8/05 23:33, Anonymous dave said...

I like the way Eugene puts it here.

I'm often taken aback by the bible verses that put forth true Christianity to be caring for the oppressed and unfortunate. I'm taken aback because it seem so far from the way we live our lives.

It was hard to watch that video of the orphans superimposed on a $2000 Sony mini DV camera.

At 16/8/05 13:47, Anonymous Penny said...

I don't know if people are paying attention to this anymore, but if you are, you should really check this out:

It tells you where you rank among the rich and the poor and was created to help people in the developed world understand wealth on a global scale.


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