A Christian Response to Poverty???

Later this month I’m going to speak at a community forum on poverty.  My assignment will be to make a case for the theological foundation of a Christian response to poverty.  I’ll be joined by a colleague who will do the same from a Jewish perspective.  Now I’ve got some ideas of where to go with this, but I’d like to hear what you might do if it was up to you.  

8 thoughts on “A Christian Response to Poverty???”

  1. i was recently at a conference with high school students where we discussed the issue of poverty. we found that some people can\’t see why they should help others because of the \”american dream\” theology that says those who are poor are just lazy. one thing is certain, most Christians understand that Jesus means what he says in Matthew 25 concerning the needy.

  2. I must be suffering from selective dyslexia or something – I initially read the title of this post as \”A Christian Responsibility of Poverty,\” which I interpreted as a responsibility to do what the Mennonites call, I believe, simple living. I immediately thought of a book called _Living More With Less_, in which Mennonites share practical advise on how to live simply in order to free up resources for others. Full disclosure: I bought the book, I read the book, I admire the book, and I do almost nothing that it lays out; I remain a greedy First Worlder.

  3. great question CP, many of the students\’ reactions were a reflection of things they have \”heard\” from parents and others they interact with. some students really, truly want to care about the poor, but they don\’t know how. sometimes the hindrance to their service is adults who find the poor scary or again, lazy…

  4. have you watched the movie \”the great debaters\”? SS loved it and there is some really great material in there on this topic, in my humble opinion 🙂

  5. I\’m immediately reminded of a talk given by Gustavo Gutierrez, \”Renewing the Option for the Poor,\” in which he describes the anonymity of the poor and addresses what is needed to give the unseen a name and a face, through loving, listening, seeing clearly. My favorite section is when he addresses the quotation \”there will always be poor among you\” in the context of the other two affirmations of Deut. 15: \”that there should not be any poor among you\”; if there were, \”you should not close your hand\”. \”[\’there shall always be poor among thee.\’] is a realist affirmation,\” he writes. \”We should strive toward the first affirmation, namely that there not be poor among us, but if there were we know what our behavior should be. The observation: \’There shall always be poor among you\’ means that we are between the ideal and crude reality\” (73, Liberation Theologies, Postmodernity, and the Americas…)This is such a rich topic and I hope you share how you decide to approach it!

  6. Thank you all, and I especially appreciated lizabeth reminding me of Gutierrez. These past few weeks have changed the dynamics a bit, don\’t you think. The Mcdaniel Clan\’s students had something important to say about what they hear from the adult community. That community now has it\’s own load of financial anxiety to bear, and, from what I\’ve observed, most of them have no idea of how their own behavior has added to the problem. In other words, the traditional poor are just lazy, but the newly poor are entirely victims of big business greed.And Lucy, SS saw that movie. I\’ll ask here about it.

  7. lizabeth, great comments on Gutierrez. i heard him speak once in Chicago, great stuff! Shane Claiborne had some things to say on Jesus\’ words in his book Irresistible Revolution. he mentions that maybe Jesus was emphasizing the idea of the poor \”always being WITH you,\” rather than the poor simply always existing. he asks, \”are the poor with you?\” tough question…

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