Friday, July 14, 2006

Using Pentecost Politically -- the Latest on Hillary and Company

My take on Pentecost 2006.

Ms. Clinton and this columnist share a Methodist tradition. I am therefore reminded of John Wesley who encouraged all Methodists -- the rich, the middle class, and the poor -- to be involved in loving the impoverished. Once in response to some well-off Methodists who wanted to pay a physician to tend the sick with the obvious assumption that he could probably do more for the ill than they, Wesley was adamant:

... this would not excuse you: his going would not fulfill your duty. Neither would it excuse you, unless you saw them with your own eyes. If you do not, you lose a means of grace; you lose an excellent means of increasing your thankfulness to God, who saves you from this pain and sickness, and continues your health and strength; as well as of increasing your sympathy with the afflicted…

He also said that

All therefore who desire to escape everlasting fire and to inherit the everlasting kingdom are equally concerned ... to practice this important duty. It is equally incumbent on young and old, rich and poor, men and women, according to their ability.

It would be difficult to understand Matthew 25:31-46 any other way.

The poor don't need more help from the federal budget and American tax dollars. And they don't need more sermons from Ms. Clinton, Barack Obama, Howard Dean, and Jim Wallis. What they need is Clinton, Obama, Dean, Wallis, you and me to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Pentecost, remember?) and then move with that Spirit to the needy with compassion, accountability, personal responsibility, and God.


At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be honest and say that it is the last paragraph of this article that reads more than anything elsementioned as "political posturing." That "[t]he poor don't need more help from the federal budget and American tax dollars" is a political statement -- more precisely it sounds philosophically conservative, and the author should address his conclusion here at more length. I'll be quite honest when I say that this last paragraph just sounds like political rhetoric.

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Matt Friedeman said...

Actually, it has precious little to do with "politics" per se and much more as to what actually works, and should be working (us!).

The several trillion dollar war on poverty in this nation (to wit - from the Great Society on)has done enormous damage to the poor among us. It has, for instance, contributed significantly to the fatherless homes in places like my state, Mississippi. Our legislators said: if you have a child outside of marriage, here is some money. More children, more money...and the only way to lose the money is to get married and get a job.

And then we appear shocked when in 2000 half of Mississippi babies are born into a mother-only constellation and the rate is 75% for blacks.

Difficult to rebound from something like that. And yet, many politicians want more money and the welfare state thrown back to what it once was.

Mores the pity.


At 5:37 PM, Blogger Kaylor said...

Your column here has a major problem because of an omission. You focus your attack on “Hillary and Company,” which in your piece includes only “Barack Obama, Howard Dean, and Jim Wallis.” However, what is not mentioned is the fact that two of the main speakers were conservative Republican Senators Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum. Why not chide them as well?

Such an omission makes it appear that you are taking political sides and thus guilty of the same type of “political posturing” that you decry in the piece. By only mentioning the liberals at the event you misrepresent the event. By not attacking the conservatives you left the world of spiritual critique and reduce yourself to merely be a partisan pawn.

It is time to quit taking sides and be a prophetic voice for both parties. As you wrote, “Anything less might just be perceived as political posturing and, yes, immoral.”

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Of course the poor need help with health care, as the costs are getting out of control. But my guess is that you have health care coverage so you don't have to worry about that situation. And the war on poverty has greatly reduced the rate of poverty in the country, by that measure the war on poverty is a sucess.
Instead, you choose to scapegoat the unwise programs which were meant to help the poor. Money wasted on welfare programs is a fraction of what has been wasted on military spending. Funny how conservatives don't mention this true wasteful government spending.
It would appear what you are upset about is that liberals have Christian beliefs and are expressing them. I know you conservatives like to think you got a monpoly on God, but that's just not the case.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit I am sometimes guilty of expecting the world to be Christian and follow Christ's teachings. The teachings are for His followers, "the called out", or the church, not the government. Although the world can and do sometimes immitate what the church does, it can't do it well because it usually has ulterior motives. If it is not done with "agape" love then it is as tinkling symbols. Even the church as a whole can fail and get so envolved in building fine buildings and making itself "attractive" to the world that if fails in the helping of the poor and downtrodden. I heard a Christian Jew say the other day, that the tradition of giving to the poor in "Bible" times was an individual thing. They were supposed to give alms directly. There were circumstances when money was collected at apostles directions to share with destitute Christians, but it was voluntary and the motive had to be with love and not to get approval from men. I really feel that american society has been crippled by the belief that it is the government (or others) that are responsible for taking care of our needs. God is our provider.....we need to trust Him.
Thanks for reminding me.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Winnie said...

What poor people do YOU love? Any person can grow to love individual people, but I feel that Clinton is supporting a noble act; she wants to help out people not because she specifically knows them all, but because she understands that everyone is important. (to me, it makes sense to help out those who need it most).

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader of Agape Press and have just read your comments re Mr. Clinton and Mt25.

Knowing the names of the person with its implicit knowledge of the person is an important part of any work of mercy. But there is a whole group of people, unnamed, for whom the Lord must be equally ready to reward any act of justice or mercy and hold us accountable for any omission. Surely our Lord identified himself with this whole group of unnamed people when He himself was conceived in the womb of His Virgin Mother. Hillary has no love for the unborn and we can be sure that our Lord takes it personally each and every time America has permitted the abortion of one of the least of His brothers.

Will America ever be freed from the scourge of legalized abortion? God alone knows. But if Hillary wants me to take her seriously when she takes the word of the Lord on her lips, then I would very much like to her her say; every unborn human being, no matter what stage of development, should be protected and welcomed in life. Such a statement would expose the lie of making abortion safe, legal, and rare. Acting in accord with such a statment would be an expression of love for a whole group of unnamed human beings. It would also be a tremendous act of love for those mothers and fathers who would otherwise make a choice that is as devasting to themselves as it is deadly to their child.

Where sin exists, grace abounds. May God in His mercy renew our fallen land.


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