Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Caffeine for the Conscience - November 17th

A good cup of coffee stimulates thinking and discussion. And I had been craving some of both, so I invited a group of some new and familiar friends to meet at Panera’s Bread Company for a discussion of God’s Politics, by Jim Wallis. Wallis is editor of Sojourner’s Magazine. The subtitle of Wallis’ book is noteworthy: Why the Right Gets It Wrong, and the Left Doesn’t Get It.

It was a Thursday night when about 12 of us sat down at some tables with our coffee in hand. I opened with a question. Why can’t we talk about things that matter most, like Religion-Sex-and Politics? Being something of an extrovert, I asked that question loudly enough for people at surrounding tables to hear it. Wouldn’t you know it?
Three people joined in, either pulling over their chairs or leaning in close enough to hear or comment. Now I ask you. Why is it when “nice” church people get together, they are often so downright boring in their conversation. It’s like we’re terrified of any disagreements. And that makes us boring! Someone has put it this way of us, “We are out there on the cutting edge of the uncontroversial.” Who wants to go there?

Wallis, in God’s Politics, observes that the 2004 Elections were supposed to have been determined by voters concerned with “values.” But as he put it, Which Values and Whose Values? The war in Iraq is a values issue; so is poverty; so is the economic stressors on families. Why is it conservatives are so often consumed with a narrow definition of morality, asks Wallis. And why are so many progressives so resistant to a discussion of faith and politics. Morality is about more than what happens in the bedrooms of America. What do you consider the chief moral issues?

1 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

For me, the chief moral concern is how we treat the poor, both the poor of this country and the poor of other countries. Is the United States a great nation? It depends on how we treat the least among us. And I don't think we're doing a very good job.

I'm a pretty frugal person. I go out of my way to find the best prices and spend as little as I can. So I used to think that many poor people were just making bad money decisions. Until I read two books that transformed my thinking. "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America" and "Growing Up Empty: The Hunger Epidemic in America." The first book is by a woman journalist, with an advanced degree, a car, no children to support, and money for a deposit, who had a very hard time making ends meet on low-wage jobs. And the second is a book that opened my eyes to the amount of hungry people, from different walks of life, in the United States, people who are working, and doing all they can, and still don't have enough food to eat.

The United States is one of the richest nations in the world. How we treat our own least fortunate, and the billions of people living in poverty around the world, MUST be one of our highest moral priorities. As Christians who take the words of Jesus seriously, we can do no other.

 

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