To Backwoods Presbyterian: Thank you for your willingness to share your own experiences of poverty in rural West Virginia. You have some great ideas and I appreciate the perspective your travels around the world brings, but there are two things I must clarify.
One: Your comments seem to accuse me of just wanting to “throw money” at the problem of poverty. First, I’ve been addressing the attitudes of wealthy Christians, not suggesting particular political agendas or proposed solutions to poverty. I certainly realize it’s not that simple and recognize that much has to change in the mindsets and attitudes of some people living in poverty. Being new to Pittsburgh and new to urban environments myself (I come from a small town where homelessness is unheard of), I don’t have the experience or vision yet to know how to change the people affected by poverty. What I do know, however, and what I hope to convey in my blogs about this subject is that as followers of Jesus Christ we are called to avoid greed like the plague. I believe that a great deal of poverty is in fact caused by greed (i.e. the stealing of aid-funds by governments in countries you mentioned). However, if we are followers of Christ, we too must watch out for greed in every aspect of our lives. That America has become an icon for the idolatrous religion of the wealthy is what I mean when I say we are complicit in the problem. Would Jesus be pleased by business people making millions upon millions of dollars in unjust ways? Of course not, and yet some churches are filled with those very people. If I may be bold, I will say it is inexcusable for a person who claims to be a Christian to become wealthy. Why? Because Jesus told his followers, not just the rich young man, to sell their possessions and give to the poor. Because our material comforts lull us into a spiritual sleep (think of Christ’s words to Laodicea in Rev. 3:14-21 – they’re wealth distracted them from worshipping God). And because God cares about economic justice (all the Prophets).
Two: You seem also to assume that racism does not exist in America today and is not at least somewhat to blame for the problems facing inner-city minorities and immigrant communities. This winter, an incoming student here at PTS told me about an encounter she had with a local realtor: Moving here from another state, she contacted this man to look at houses in the area of the seminary. When she told him her price range, he responded with “Oh, if you have that money then you don’t want to live down near all those black people.” Little did he know that she was African-American. It’s not a violent example, so it would never get in the newspapers, but it shows how this subtle racism works. The man automatically assumed that a woman with that much money could not be black. It’s that same attitude that allowed white anglo-saxon protestants (yes, I think we are partially to blame because of our failure to follow Christ) moved out to the suburbs of Pittsburgh fifty years ago to escape the minorities living in the city. So much for listening to Galatians 3:28.
That’s all for now. Thank you again for your comments and ideas and may God use both of us to glorify Him on this earth today!!