Questions

What if the prophets are right and wickedness will cause the destruction of the last days? But what if it’s not indirect causation such that people are wicked therefore God looking down smites the Earth? What if the wickedness itself causes the destruction? What if the seas are heaving themselves beyond their bound** because the wicked are using up the resources of the Earth in wicked ways: selfish, unnecessary, greedy, used to adorn the flesh of a few, and to vaunt vanity?

What if greedy men are gathering resources up because they want them for themselves, more and more for their own use? And what if they grind the faces of the poor to obtain them? What if the poor are forgotten?

What if one group of people use up most of the resources of the Earth in ways that make the climate of the Earth reel to and fro like a drunken man? What if the poor are written off as deserving of their position because the hearts of many have waxed cold? What if the poor of the Earth are fenced in, excluded, and despised so that one people can have more than anyone on Earth? What if they fill the air with wormwood (a carbon-based substance) so that they, Yurtle the Turtle-like, can be richer than anyone on Earth?

And what if in the following scripture is referring to the rich and the others mentioned are the people we fence out? What if it is referring to the people of the Southern regions? What if part of the Fullness of the Gospel referred to in part is caring for the poor and widows, whatever the reason they find themselves in that condition?

Who do you hate? Who to you has become a hiss and a byword? Who have you put up fences against to protect your wealth?

What could these scriptures mean if the Book of Mormon were taken seriously as a scripture for our day (as opposed to Revolutionary War times say)?

3 Nephi 16

8 But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;

Who have we cast out? Who are we casting out?

9 And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—

Who currently is hated? In this country? Who currently is a byword? Who have we smitten?

10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, . . .

Which nation currently uses most of the world’s resources? Can you name the most rich and prideful nation on Earth? Who exerts their military will across the world largely to protect resources?

. . . and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

Which nation lets the rich spin away scientific truth to justify their greed?

11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.
12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be anumbered among my people, O house of Israel.
14 And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

Who are the gentiles? Who are of the House of Israel? Who is currently cast out from among us? Who has been trodden under our feet? Who do we use the labor of and then cast way? Who in this scripture is about to be trodden down?

15 But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall atread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.

Who is not harkening to his voice? And who are “This People” that will get the land for their inheritance?

Who is this taking about:

and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth,

Was the Book of Mormon written for our day? In what sense?

3 Nephi 24

5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts.
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Who is it that ‘oppresses the hireling his wages’? Who are the ‘strangers?’

Who are the sons of Jacob?
Who or what is consuming the ‘sons of Jacob?’

Look around you, what do you see?
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** (sea levels rising at 3.3 ± 0.4 mm per year from 1993 to 2009, faster last four years)

Comments

  1. Rechabite says:

    Yes, this. Amen.

  2. Yes, amen, Steve. Thank you.

  3. Amen, Steve.

    I love the question:

    “Lord, is it I?”

  4. Reminds me of one of the best things I ever read at BYU Richard E. Johnson’s Socio-Economic Inequality: The Haves and the Have-Nots. http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2438

    Best of all my copy came as a photocopy where some enterprising BYU student had tried to deconstruct it in the margins scoffing for example that he “didn’t understand the difference between communism and consecration”. I owe that student a debt of gratitude. Comparing his efforts to the essay itself was a major turning point in how I came to interpret the BoM and the gospel.

  5. Love it, beautifully done!

  6. it's a series of tubes says:

    All great questions. Steve, have you implemented your implied answer by lowering your level of resource consumption to the global average? If not, why not?

  7. Great line of questioning, Steve, and thanks rah for the Johnson link. I absolutely writhe in my seat at every casual reference to the “truism” that everything is worse or more difficult now than a generation ago. Of course “everything” means crime, violence, and the morals of society. No need to substantiate this trend, because “I remember when I was in high school, and we didn’t have that inernet thingy in the home”. Meanwhile, any concern about climate or sea levels is at best evidence of bamboozlement by those godless conspiratorial scientists, and at worse a dangerous denial of the “promise” in Promised Land. Concern for the less fortunate is core in a limited sense (i.e. disaster relief, Scouting for Food drives, properly-utilized fast offerings, etc), but the word “inequality” has little place in that discussion. It smacks of leftist politics, laziness in place of working and whistling, the color red, and the Plan we all agreed not to follow.

    Then again, maybe you just hate freedom…

  8. Goodness, I feel like if I answer a question wrong I’ll be cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril

  9. Anyone can ask questions, Steve. What would you suggest we do? We already take in more than a million legal immigrants a year in this country. We, as a nation are going broke, trying to offer more than we can afford to offer. And don’t say we spend too much money on war, because until we stop doing that, the money is not there to spend on other things. In other words, just what would you do differently, that is achievable/realistic?

  10. “The Plan we all agreed not to follow…” I think we chose Christ for the reason that our agency would indeed be just that. AGENCY. However, it seems that throughout the years, the church keeps implementing more and more rules that I personally feel prevent the use of agency in our lives. If the brethren really trust us to make the right decision, shouldn’t it be left to up to every person to do what they think is best? What’s the use of having all this agency if we are limited to using it? I believe we are preventing personal growth which is detrimental to true testimonies. So often we hear that trials and tribulations bring blessings to our lives however it seems we limit ourselves by putting up strict barriers. Great post.

  11. @rah- I took that Social Problems course from Richard Johnson, and it was one of the highlights of my BYU experience, thanks for the link.

    Also, this: “and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth…” So many allow an accident of birth to strip them of all humility- there needs to be a constant effort to keep gratitude for one’s circumstances from morphing into uncontrollable pride.

  12. Steve, can you come to my ward and be the Gospel Doctrine teacher?

  13. Interesting questions, interesting conclusions. (In fact, the questions mostly were conclusions.)

    There’s much to be recommended here in terms of thought, but overall I’m having a hard time liking this post. Setting aside the possible merits of the questions and arguments (momentarily), I’m still mostly seeing an anti-conservative screed, mingled with scripture. I hate it when conservatives speak as if their political platform is God’s platform, and I don’t like it any more when liberals do it.

    Hardly any of it, from either side, resonates with me. In their daily life, in their buying habits, in their time commitments, etc., very few of the liberals or conservatives I’ve ever known have seemed to act substantially differently enough from one another (as a group) to claim that their political beliefs are God’s beliefs. I don’t believe that when we stand before God, our personal BELIEFS are going to be addressed much, if at all.

    I’m not saying politics or ideas don’t matter. I’m saying that pulling the lever in the way you think God wants you do is a great thing, but it doesn’t get you jack at the judgment bar. And the people with the “unrighteous” political views, who watch a different news channel and pull a different level in the voting booth, probably care about as much for their fellow man as you do, are probably on a similar moral footing, and probably consume the same number of earth’s natural resources as you do.

    So my only reaction to the above post is the reaction I have whenever anyone mixes his/her political views with religion: (Yawn) Go ahead and do what you think is right, but leave God out of it. I doubt he agrees with any of us on politics, assuming he cares at all.

  14. Lorin, I agree with you – the scriptures aren’t there to be wrested to a given political party’s agenda. That said, they are there to be interpreted and applied in a context. In fact the scriptures invite this application, and so the mixing of political views and religion is more than just an unavoidable consequence of humanity, but rather one of the primary stated uses. At some point the scriptures won’t support the conclusions being offered, and the credulity will be strained. Where that line exists is probably a subjective question based on the reader’s own political persuasion. But Jesus wasn’t apolitical and I don’t think we’re asked to separate the world of our religion from the politics we practice (though God will surely judge us for how we do it).

  15. wondering says:

    So much wrong with this post I don’t know where to start. I’ll just offer this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/world/extreme-poverty-down-despite-recession-world-bank-data-show.html?_r=0

    (And am I misreading, or is he calling for global warming skepticism to be *illegal?*)

  16. Ummm yeah you’re misreading.

  17. Dissecting the archaic, ambiguous, vague, colorfully-stated prophecies in scripture has long been a common, and often failed, practice. Having spent over 50 years since leaving my childhood years of unquestioning belief, I conclude that, In my opinion, ALL, in “heaven and earth” is natural. God did not make (create) any of the underlying, controlling principles. God, and/or his so-called prophets (just how accurate are the original scriptures, let alone their flowery translations?) wants us to think (as motivation to be righteous) He is controlling nearly everything. That line of thought has long been strongly discredited.

    The answer to the initial question of the post: Of course the past, current, and future state of the world and it’s inhabitants (environmentally, politically, financially, etc.) is the consequence of natural (human nature, biology, geology, etc) and not God-imposed causes. The wisest prophets, and perhaps God, have merely extrapolated our cultural and environmental evolution (in our case “decay”). They just named them prophecies and told us to obey and behave or the bogey man (God) would punish us. I did a similar extrapolation in the early 70s while getting a degree in Sociology/Anthropology. Having seen our American society/culture seemingly torn apart by the hippies/demonstrators (remember the 60s) and their ilk, I thought we were soon to go over the proverbial cliff.

    The “prophets” have been uttering prophecies of the end days being just over the horizon for several thousand years. We religious sorts (that read and pay attention to such “prophecies”) in the present (at several times during the past, not just now) have concluded that now is the time–yet, so far, it isn’t.

    So, while attempting to live a good and righteous life (including appropriate environmental sensitivity) for its natural and inherent consequences (not some threatened surveillance and an embarrassing judgement bar), my attitude regarding the eschaton is, “just wake me when Christ splits the Mount of Olives.”

  18. SteveP
    When the questions you pose are read in a certain light I can agree with many (most?) of your presumed conclusions.
    When they are read in another light I think they are unfairly antagonistic, prideful, and lacking any similitude with how the Savior handles these questions of agency (both directly and indirectly through his appointed servants).

    My question would be, do you find yourself on the “wrong” side of these questions and seek for personal change in those areas or are the questions meant as an attack on others you view as wrong?

  19. Rodney Ross says:

    Nay! All is well in Zion. Zion prospereth.

  20. I like how you point out that the Book of Mormon was written for our time–and that if it was written for our time, the pathway to destruction that destroyed societies in the Book of Mormon are probably similar to the ones that will, eventually, destroy our society. The Book of Mormon is largely a warning against such behavior.

    Of course, once you start pointing out that societies in the Book of Mormon were not destroyed due to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, you start treading on ground that may offend both the wealthy and many conservatives. Heaven forbid we start talking about the treatment of the poor and the wearing of rich apparel…

  21. and I don’t think we’re asked to separate the world of our religion from the politics we practice ”

    “”But Jesus wasn’t apolitical”

    I see in his treatment of the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers a continuing theme of chastisement for establishing their laws and rules as God’s rules, when they clearly were not. That somewhat informs my attitudes about the humility we should have when presenting our political views in a religious setting and vice-versa. As to his attitude toward his day’s “Federal government” (Rome), I recall very little comment. I find only limited (and highly debatable) contemporary political guidance from his teachings. Or to paraphrase Joseph Smith, I find the interpretations of the scriptures by various people to differ so greatly as to hope to [fully] settle a political issue by an appeal to the scriptures.

    “I don’t think we’re asked to separate the world of our religion from the politics we practice”

    Nor do I believe we’re asked to do that, probably for the fact that we humans can’t compartmentalize ourselves well enough to succeed in any measure. Our politics inform our religious views and vice-versa, But our individual roadmaps in which the two are combined are so tangled and changeable, I really have a problem when someone does something tantamount to calling others to repentance for having the wrong political views. This post does not do that, but it’s close enough that it’s hard for me to be objective about the points.

    “(though God will surely judge us for how we do it)”

    That’s kind of the point I was making. We’re urged to be politically active because these things affect people and they matter, but I don’t believe the separation of the sheep from the goats will have much correlation at all with how closely our political views hewed to God’s teachings. Too much political (and religious) discourse extrapolates the goodness of another person from his or her political views. The views we have won’t matter so much in the end, but I believe our political MOTIVES and the manner in which we have treated others via political channels (particularly our opponents), does reflect our character and does matter to the Lord.

  22. Sure we can point out the false swearers (Republicans), adulterers (Democrats), and the hirelings (the 99% & Not-in-Status Immigrants) in 3 Nephi 24, but who are the sorcerers?

  23. I have far more questions about the scriptures than answers, but I do believe as Steve Evans said above they are there to be used. I recognize that there are wild complexities both politically and religiously in these verses, but their condemnation of greed, and the sense that it is somehow right to have the disparity of wealth we see in the world and that it needs to be protected must be wrong, And also wrong that the resources of this planet should be gobbled up by one group of people and one generation who are willing to destroy the climate and Earth’s ecosystems because its their right to live far above their neighbors on the food chain. It’s hard to read Doctrine and Covenants 49:20 (But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.) in light of current attitudes about the poor. I offer these questions not to give answers (hello, ‘Questions’), but to suggest that we need to do some hard thinking about our attitudes about the world’s pour. We may need some soul searching realignment as a people. Our worth cannot be an accident of what boarders we happen to be born in or out of. Nor the metallic composition of the spoon in your mouth at birth. But no one has offered me an alternative reading of these verses, or an argument as to why they don’t apply to our time. Of course, why take the Book of Mormon seriously as a guide for our life (Save of course the comfortable things like don’t run off with whores while on your mission)? And trust me I’m not pointing fingers, as others above have pointed out, what have I done personally? Not much really. But I do sense a growing condemnation of my personal choices and this post is reflective of some personal squirming as much as it is an attempt to cause it in others.

  24. I don’t see a “political platform” in this post – rather a questioning of the religious foundation on which some base their political assumptions. There is a call to lift up the poor rather than grind their faces into the dirt, but no call for total amnesty. Their is criticism of exploit-then-deport, but no call for an unlimited, unrestricted open border. A call to use limited resources wisely and unselfishly, but no call for a carbon tax. Not a prescription for political solutions (to the annoyance of some), but a reminder to incorporate the most basic Christian principles into our social deliberations, and to check for consistency between those principles and our political ideologies.

  25. That seems extraordinarily judgmental to imply those scriptures apply to people simply because they are skeptical of climate change research, or at the very least are taking a “wait and see approach”.

    And before you start screaming “climate denier”, go read this Economist article and explain to me what definitive evidence we have that (i) climate is actually consistently trending according to models and (ii) such trend is caused by an increase in carbon dioxide and not the other way around.

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions

  26. Well said Aaron. Exactly.

  27. DSmith, you are misunderstanding both the purpose of this post and the Economist article. You may want to reread both.

  28. Climate denier!!!!!!!1111!!

    Oh wait. DON’T do that.

  29. Aaron:

    “I don’t see a “political platform” in this post”

    That’s likely because your political views on these issues appear to be fairly well aligned with the way SteveP frames the issues. If you frame these political issues differently, you could easily go find another set of scriptures that match that framing as well.

    Personally, I have a lot of strong, sometimes conflicting thoughts about the issues addressed.in the OP, some of them falling on both sides of the political fence concurrently. If the OP had been limited to the thoughts espoused in your eloquent comment above, I might have enjoyed it more. But it’s not as balanced, nuanced or as neutral as your take on it.

  30. Lorin, please feel free to interpret these scriptures in relation to other scriptures you feel relevant. What questions from the scriptures above would you like to ask that might provide a different framing? One more question, If there is tension between the scriptures and politics how is it resolved?

  31. Are you sure, Lorin? I want a secure border, I’ve still never seen “An Inconvenient Truth”, and I believe corporations are people. If I’m drawing the wrong set of connections, please feel free to be more specific, but I still don’t think I’ll be able to read “Thou shalt be a Democrat” between the lines…

  32. it's a series of tubes says:

    …what have I done personally? Not much really…

    this post is … an attempt to cause [personal squirming] in others.

    So, you feel condemnation of your personal choices, and your response is to attempt to cause others to squirm… before you’ve lifted a finger to change your personal choices? Cool story, bro.

  33. DSmith,

    Give it up. SteveP has written this to sound like it is judging certain people, policies and beliefs, yet it can plausibly be denied to be judging any one person, policy, or belief. Brilliant job SteveP. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re better than most of us.

  34. Tubes that’s some nifty editing to what Steve actually wrote.

  35. And even cooler use of ellipses, it’s a series of tubes. But for the sake of not misrepresenting the author: “this post is reflective of some personal squirming as much as it is an attempt to cause it in others”.

  36. MDearest says:

    I also don’t see politics in this post. It’s not perfectly balanced to match my personal version of cafeteria politics, either, but much of it resonated and a couple of things made me blink and take notice.

    When you wrote about fencing out the poor, my mental image went immediately to the border that I flew over last month, and the ugly monstrosity that wrecks the landscape as far as the eye can see in either direction. I also hate that fence, not for political reasons, but because it’s expensive plus ineffective, poorly thought through politically, and has many damaging unforseen effects on the environment. Thanks for the nutritious food for thought.

  37. Mark Brown says:

    Tubes,

    You read what SteveP wrote, and he included himself in the condemnation, but maybe you missed that part, in your haste to be a smartass. Did you also see the part where he invited you to offer an alternative explanation?

  38. OK, so it’s early in the thread but Imma gonna put my foot down a little bit. This is a provocative post. If the purpose of your comment is to show the rest of us that you are, in fact, provoked by the post, we got it already so please don’t bother. If the purpose of your comment is to call the author a hypocrite, we got that too thx. Seriously, people. If you disagree with his questions/application of those scriptures, please provide your own. But let’s keep things nice, shall we?

    Consider BCC a party held at someone’s house. You’re a guest at the party, and when you arrive you find various conversations already underway involving some people you may know but also a whole lot of strangers. We’re a friendly bunch and love to have fun discussion with new friends. But if you behave jerkily we’ll show you the door.

  39. We need the digital equivalent of party hats and favors!

  40. it's a series of tubes says:

    “this post is reflective of some personal squirming as much as it is an attempt to cause it in others”.

    Generally, when I feel condemnation of my own choices, I tend to focus on changing my choices, rather than telling others how their choices are wrong. Steve appears to prefer a different approach. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

    Did you also see the part where he invited you to offer an alternative explanation?

    Mark, the irony here is that in the main, I agree with the points that Steve is making in the OP. My disagreement is with the tone and style, as well as with the classic dissembling and hedging that has arisen in the comments. If one has an attack to make, make it, and then stand by it – but don’t passive-aggressively make it and then claim it wasn’t made.

    As an example of how a different approach might actually achieve results – some time ago, there was a post on BCC about the Liahona Childrens Foundation. I had never heard of them, or the dire needs they were striving to fill. My schedule prevents me from joining a nutritour, but I’ve donated substantial sums to the Foundation and will continue to do so. I think they are doing God’s work, and I appreciate how BCC was used to raise awareness of the issue.

    In contrast, I don’t see the OP achieving anything useful. YMMMV (Your Mormon Mileage May Vary).

  41. +1 for the Foundation.

    As for the utility of the post, hell, it’s blogging, whaddaya want, really.

  42. Your tone tubes was pitch perfect. Thank you for modeling how to act.

  43. wondering says:

    I’m feeling bad about the overly negative tone of my first comment. I agree with the poster that the scriptures make it clear we should care about the poor, to a degree not always reflected in Mormon discourse. So if that’s the main point of the post, I applaud it.

    My problem with the post is that (1) it seems to imply that anyone who disagrees with SteveP’s particular policy ideas is a bad person ignoring the scriptures, and (2) it seems like a lecture about global poverty, without much evidence that the poster has thought or studied deeply about the history and causes of global poverty. If anything, it seems to subscribe to the naive idea that “we are rich, they are poor, so we must be taking their stuff.”

    Also, I still don’t understand what the line about how the “nation lets the rich spin away scientific truth” is supposed to mean, unless it is calling for the (rich, presumably bad-faith) dissenters to somehow be silenced.

  44. Steve, thanks for this call to contemplation and, where appropriate, repentance. I know I need both when it comes to these questions. They have been weighing quite heavily on my mind over the past couple of years, and I appreciate the reminder not to let go of the weight until I’ve wrestled with it enough to make more changes than I have already.

  45. Mark Brown says:

    Tubes, thanks! I appreciate your response.

    Mileage certainly does vary, and I think that’s a good thing, overall.

    Thanks for participating here.

  46. Mark Brown says:

    wondering, my understanding of the post is this: Do our scriptures tell us anything about poverty? The post then cites some scriptures that do seem to apply. How do you interpret those verses?

  47. “My problem with the post is that (1) it seems to imply that anyone who disagrees with SteveP’s particular policy ideas is a bad person ignoring the scriptures:”

    Policy ideas? Actually I don’t have any. As I said above, these are complex. I’m focused on attitudes I see around me here in Utah Valley about the poor of the world and their entitlement to the riches they were born into by the luck of the draw.

    “(2) it seems like a lecture about global poverty, without much evidence that the poster has thought or studied deeply about the history and causes of global poverty.”

    Guilty as charged. A year working in the UN’s joint program with the FAO (world food and agriculture arm of the UN) and five years of work in Senegal and Ethiopia working among the poor as an ecologist have certainly have not qualified me to look at any problems other than those I’ve focused on, which largely have to do with the ability to grow crops in light of changing climate (which I see the effects on the ground not just in charts) and the emergence of new pest regimes because of expanding pest ranges due to warming. So likely there are large swaths of the story I’m missing. I submit to the criticism.

    “Also, I still don’t understand what the line about how the “nation lets the rich spin away scientific truth” is supposed to mean, unless it is calling for the (rich, presumably bad-faith) dissenters to somehow be silenced.”

    I mean more money is spent by the Heartland Institute (funded by those not interested in climate change being true) to spin the science than is spent by the NSF to do climate studies. Advertising is not Science’s strong suit and we are being out gunned by the money.

  48. “What if the wickedness itself causes the destruction?”

    I forgot to mention that this question is the one that resonates the most for me – with the call to examine what part I play, as a sinner myself, in any kind of physical-destruction-causing wickedness.

    It’s really easy to see moral wickedness in others, but it’s harder to see practical wickedness in myself. It’s easy to talk of how Jesus accomplishes an at-one-ment for me, but much it’s harder to contemplate how I contribute to any kind of not-at-one-ment in the world – at all levels of interaction. It’s easy to be thankful for faith in ultimate healing, but it’s harder to recognize our part in the need for that healing.

  49. I love it when you make me think.

    If our blessings and sufferings are in some measure the natural outgrowth of our behavior, and not arbitrary rewards and punishments handed out by God, then we do need to look for the connections between actions and ends. We can do it two ways: speculate about where our current behavior will eventually take us, or look at prophesied ends and try to identify what behaviors will bring about those ends.

    That thought process is still valid even if commenters don’t care for the particular ways Steve connects the dots. Pick out your own dots, and consider where various behaviors will lead.

    Or we can just argue about ideologies.

  50. So one thing that I do find really interesting about scriptures such as these is they do what I think is an admirable job of describing the social problem (and I agree with StevePs analysis. It requires lots of mental gymnastics to try and argue that socioeconomic inequality is NOT what the BoM was talking about as the central downfall and axis of evil in the society). However, there is actually very little direction in scripture about a viable solution (besides everyone should just choose to be more righteous which is simply not viable as governmental policy). I happily admit to being a Mormon liberal but it isn’t so much because I am completely convinced of the liberal agenda’s response to the problem’s of inequality or believe that scripture prescribes it, but rather because I can find almost no credible, thoughtful problemetization of inequality within current US conservative political thought. Romney, for example, did a particularly poor job of convincing me he really cared about the growing socioconomic inequality and decreased rates of socioeconomic mobility or even had a very sophisticated understanding of what it was. In fact, what I see mostly from conservative American politics is a intellectual defense of widening inequality and a denial of decling socioeconimc mobility (though there are some moderate Republicans that have shown signs of taking this seriously). Same with climate and environmental degredation. Until that changes I will have a hard time taking conservatives seriously in terms of how they may fit into my moral worldview. I want to at least agree with them on what the major social problems are.

  51. it's a series of tubes says:

    I’m focused on attitudes I see around me here in Utah Valley about the poor of the world and their entitlement to the riches they were born into by the luck of the draw.

    Steve, this is a great bit of additional information. I wish you had included it in the OP; I suspect it may have headed off much of the initial criticism (it certainly changes my perspective on what you were writing and help me understand it better). I see that same attitude in many friends and family members who live in SLC or Utah counties. And though it certainly pops up from time to time elsewhere, in my experience these attitudes often diminish substantially the further one gets from Utah. I’ve lived in some very wealthy areas outside Utah and in those areas, I saw very little of the attitude you highlight; in contrast, I’ve lived in some upper middle class areas in Utah where the attitudes were rampant.

  52. I agree that the scriptures show that socioeconomic equality is a huge contributor to problems but I disagree that the scriptures don’t also show a way to fixing the problem. What is required is a change of heart such that we no longer desire the vain things of this world and we desire to help our brothers and sisters. This is a rather huge undertaking but I believe it is the only way. I don’t think any political system or policy can make a difference long term when people are greedy and prideful. Greed and pride will be the downfall of our civilization if the Book of Mormon is any guide.

  53. Okay, so I have a legitimate question that I mean sincerely. But first some background. I believe in helping the poor and when I see needy people on the street, I often try to give them something to help. Once I did this as I was leaving Walmart. An hour later, I realized I’d forgotten to pick something up, so I went back to the store and saw the guy I’d helped getting into a really nice SUV. I freely admit I felt both confused and taken advantage of, especially as it cost me something to help him. I didn’t have much money to spare at the time. What I couldn’t help wondering, though, was, is this guy just a random con artist, or did he become this way because of people like me who gave him handouts?

    The thing is, I’ve been through poverty myself (most of my twenties) so I know what it’s like. And I did appreciate the odd gift from a family member or friend. That helped me survive the tough times and get through school, which is why I continue to give when I see someone who appears to genuinely need help. (I don’t have any jobs at my disposal, so I don’t know how else to help other than to give food or money.) But when I see things like this, I sometimes wonder if my efforts to help are really helping or if I’m enabling people in a negative way. I don’t know to what extent any of this may translate to a bigger picture – such as society’s efforts to help the poor.

    But that’s basically my question: what’s the best way to help people in poverty without causing entitlement or endless reliance on others? As far as global poverty, I imagine this is probably less of an issue. But at least in first-world countries, it does seem like entitlement may be as great among some of the poor as it is among some of the rich.

  54. Mandy,

    I have always thought that part of sacrifice required when trying to help the poor is to accept the risk that some of the money is misused or misappropriated. It sucks and it is very reasonable for people to choose to give and contribute in ways that try and minimize this risk but the fact is being a generous person always brings the risk of being taken advantage of. No system, no matter how well regulated is completely immune from fraud (including the church welfare system). That is my take on it.

    JTB,

    As you said the scriptures provide no real guidance on how public policy can or should be used to help the fight on poverty. I don’t think that relinquishes from us the responsibility to try and use the tools of public policy or charitable organizations or whatever to help address problems of policy, however. Poverty will never be solved by organic, unorganized acts of kindness (not that those aren’t important). It is simply too complex for that. As much as I think good welfare policies are important I personally am even more concerned about how we institutionally regulate labor markets and organizations such that people who put in an honest days work can achieve a family sustaining wage. That just seems so common sense to me from a Mormon moral point of view. One of the biggest problems we face in the US isn’t unemployment but the steady erosion of job quality such that honest people working 2 and even 3 jobs can’t sustain a basic middle class level of financial security. I really feel like a lot of Mormon rhetoric and ideas about this are stuck in the 1950s through the 1970s when economic growth was shared broadly across our economy. That is no longer true. Our economy has been growing very well since the 1980s but more and more of the growth in income has gone to the top 10% and even top 1% leaving many families in the dust. On top of that what was once shared risk has been increasingly shifted from organizations and institutions on to individual families. These structural changes in the economy are really problematic quite separate from the welfare policies that tend to animate this debate.

  55. rah nailed it.

    Most of the poor are working poor. Many who aren’t working would like to. The best way to help the poor is to make sure they’re offered decent wages and benefits for a hard day’s work. That happens, for the most part, in the rest of the “first world.” It’s not happening here in the U.S.

  56. Mandy, you raise questions that I too struggle with in these situations (and many others, I’m sure): Does my charity address a legitimate need, is a handout a non-optimal means of assistance, will it be squandered, etc. Following a post that deals with squaring poverty-related BOM references with what seems like the “best answer”, the relevant analogue to the verses above has got to be Mosiah 5:16-17: “and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain…Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance… But…whoseoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent…”
    I have no problem with arguments that there are better ways to distribute our limited charitable resources, etc, but I also see no way to interpret these verses other than, if he asks and I can give something, I am directed to do it.

  57. Tim, I wonder about your last point given the recent economic problems in Europe. I don’t know about working wages for the employed, but unemployment rates must include information about those who want to work but are not currently.
    According to http://www.tradingeconomics.com/country-list/unemployment-rate, some of those rates are:
    Switzerland – 3.4%, Germany – 5.4%, Canada – 7.0%, US – 7.7%, UK – 7.9%, France – 10.9%, Italy – 11.6%, Spain – 26.02%

  58. Tim, I love that idea. I think that’s definitely something we should be trying to bring about. It won’t cover all those in poverty, but I think it would help most. I wonder why other countries are able to do this but we aren’t.

    It is very sad to see some of my friends and members of my ward who work so hard but still live at the poverty level because their jobs pay so little. Often their work requires no education, and I imagine that’s at least partly why it pays so little. But many of these people haven’t had the same opportunities or encouragement for higher education that I and many others have had. I feel like that needs to be addressed as well. Do these other countries have ways of offering that? Could we duplicate it? (Sorry for all the questions, but I know next to nothing about international politics or economics.)

  59. Aaron, I think of those verses all the time. I think they absolutely apply to giving to someone who is legitimately in need, from whatever circumstance. I do question whether the guy in the SUV qualified as a beggar, since he was arguably better off financially than I was at the time. But then I think of the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Man with the Twisted Lip.” Maybe he found he couldn’t make a decent wage at a regular job, but he could do so begging.

  60. Aaron, you’re probably right. I haven’t been to Europe in several years, and the only countries I’ve lived in there are ones that are doing significantly better than the U.S. right now in employment rates (Switzerland and Germany). I’m guessing many of those who would like to work but can’t are young immigrants–and based on your information it seems to be a problem in many countries. On the bright side, in most if not all of those countries, those who would like to work but can’t at least have access to basic resources like food, water, housing, and healthcare. And those who are actually working in countries like France, Germany, Canada, and Australia receive better wages and better benefits than the working poor here in the U.S. Higher minimum wages, mandatory vacation, maternity leave, etc. make that happen.

    Some of these countries offer free college education, and most offer decent K-12 education to everyone (unlike in the U.S., where public schools are hit and miss). That certainly helps to level the playing field, although obviously it’s only part of the equation.

  61. Mandy, I think there is nothing wrong with judging the situation and not giving to that man again, but I think we can’t cross the line of judging the man. It’s harder to avoid judgment in that situation than simply to give or not give.

    It sounds like you understand that principle very well.

  62. Mandy, I find it very difficult (probably impossible) to avoid making judgments based on the information available. Had you seen him getting out of the SUV before asking you for money, I’m guessing you might have reacted differently. The harder question is whether next time you will consider withholding because, based on extrapolation, that guy might also have an SUV waiting in the parking lot. As a weird aside, I was listening to “The Man with the Twisted Lip” in the carpool on the way home tonight, so please no spoilers!

    Tim, you are surely correct on the extent of the social net in these countries, and hopefully that helps people get through rough spots like the current one. Hopefully the rough spot is not brought about by a social net that is unsustainable in its extent (not a judgment, I just don’t know). I think universally-available college education is a great example of a social benefit worth striving for, though I also think it’s important to point out that it is not “free”, but rather a cost shared by the society through taxation.

  63. Brent Wagstaff says:

    “But what if it’s not indirect causation such that people are wicked therefore God looking down smites the Earth? What if the wickedness itself causes the destruction? ”

    I love this idea. I believe in this idea. There is a quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The two main characters are driving through the desert toward Las Vegas. The passenger spills a salt shaker full of cocaine all over himself and exclaims to the other, “Did you see what God just did to us man?!” to which the main character replied, “God didn’t do that, you did it!” I think its easy to see the outcome of our lives as “indirect causation,” your wicked and God punishes you, your righteous and God rewards you. Its my opinion that the amount that God actually “interferes,” in our lives and manipulates things for better or for worse is extremely minimal. God certainly has the ability to dish our blessings or cursings; but in most cases he simply doesn’t need to. Humans do a fine job of blessing and cursing themselves. One example of what I’m trying to say is Lehi and his family in the wilderness. If they were righteous they would progress in their journey. If they were wicked they may very likely perish in the wilderness. It wouldn’t be a matter of God smiting them, just a culmination of the circumstances they placed themselves in.

  64. Brent, that’s the way it seems to me too!

    I struggle with the question Mandy outlined and agree with most of what’s been offered, especially the idea that our obligation is to help regardless of the risk of getting hoodwinked. I think until we genuinely see the others of the world as of equal worth, and deserving the same justice and opportunities we enjoy, we will never really be able to help. I do think these scriptures are an important step in framing appropriate attitudes toward the poor of the world and suggesting that the division isn’t us vs. them, but rather just an us.

  65. Aaron and TIm,

    Thanks for a reasonable and interesting discussion on these topics. These are the types of discussions that I wish there were more of. As you noted Aaron there is so much variability in Europe (you didn’t add in the Scandanavian countries which have very different models). That variability represents so many different choices in the institutional structure of labor markets and I think it is instructive. Germany is probably the strongest example of a really different and apparently much more robust/appealing set of labor market institutions that are doing a far better job than the US (currenty) in providing a decent quality of life for a much broader range of citiziens.

    I think it is important to note that the structural changes in the economy that have led to rising numbers of the working poor and a Gini coefficient that now rivals that of Libya are very complex and there isn’t much consensus that we understand what is going on or how to fix it. The world is very different from the 1950s and 1970s. I recommend Timothy Noah’s Slate series (The United States of Inequality) as a very approachable and reasonable effort to summarize the state of academic research on the subject (He collected it in book form as well). My recent PhD was done in a group that is very much at the forefront of these issues and so I have been pretty well exposed to the top people who are thinking about this. Their really isn’t a lot of consensus beyond. “This should be considered the major social problem and we have to get inequality back to reasonable levels”. Most my peers think that we have to reinvent new labor market institutions to deal with it and not return to the old ones of the past. In my mind two major issues are 1) reorganizing HC so it doesn’t take 20% of our GDP (and rising) and 2) creating livable wage service work. If we could do those two things we would solve a huge amount of our problems.

    A couple of other notes. France’s unemployment rate is really highly concentrated among African and Muslim immigrants which just have not been integrated into French society. That is their real problem. If it wasn’t for that their system would look pretty good, but it is a BIG problem. I agree that sustainability of the different systems is a big question. Again Germany looks great that way. Some of the others don’t look bad (others have big problems ie Spain). Just the fact we can all recognize it is much more nuanced than “Europe is bad” is a big step forward among most Mormon-based discussions I have had.

  66. rah,
    The trend in health care spending terrifies me, no less so because I’ve had a particularly difficult time wrapping my head around it. I spent the leadup to the Obamacare legislation in a continual state of pulling my hair out listening to days of coverage and “analysis” from both sides as they tried to work towards their respective plans. It was clear that (1) costs are too high, (2) they’ve risen significantly faster than inflation for a long time, and (3) something must be done. To my dismay and astonishment, no one seemed to think it was important to raise the question of why costs were rising so much faster than inflation. I couldn’t imagine how they could set out to solve the problem without clearly stating what it was. In the end, the best (but still murky) picture I got is that medical technological advancement is the most significant factor. If that’s the case, I guess we have to pay for it somehow (either directly or through taxation), and perhaps relative costs can only stabilize once technology saturates or we decide we are “healthy enough”. If you’ve got other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

    On livable wage service work, it seems the only solution is that we all pay more for stuff. But here too I’m uncertain of the economics because (1) the person who works at Walmart also buys stuff at Walmart, and (2) outsourcing to lower wages in China (or the emerging “next China’s) in order to balance the books (or preserve the profits) looks even more attractive than it already is.

    France’s unemployment rate is unequal across indigenous and and immigrant groups, but isn’t our significantly unequal across ethnic groups? In that respect, is our future success more like France solving its problems than simply duplicating, say, a scandinavian model?

  67. As far as healthcare costs go, I think the biggest problem is that we insist on paying hospitals and doctors for tests and procedures instead of outcomes. The result is more costly tests and procedures, many of them useless or even harmful, and more money spent. Doctors and hospitals benefit, but the rest of us don’t.

    I’ve read statistics that state that 1/3 of the money we spend on healthcare is for end-of-life care, much of which could be avoided by, for example, not performing a $100,000 heart surgery on a patient that’s within a week or two of death anyway. At the very least, we could cut costs by encouraging and paying for people to have living wills, so many of them can choose to avoid getting expensive and painful treatments that do little to prolong life, and instead die peacefully in bed at home.

  68. Ryan Bell says:

    It makes me laugh to imagine what would happen here if someone posted an interpretation of scripture that pushed conservative dogma in the same way this pushes liberal dogma. Sure, it happens a lot, right? But anyone grinning at this post loses a little of the moral high ground next time they want to rail at conservative propaganda dressed up as scriptural exegesis.

  69. Aaron and Tim,

    I think there are a lot of levers to pull in health care. People around me have spent a lot of time studying health care and from a management standpoint hospitals and the medical care system is a holy mess. There is SOOO much potential organizational innovation that could reduce costs its staggering. I think Tim hits on other important ones regarding end of life care. The incentive structures are all screwy. The biggest move in the Obamacare legislation is the mandate to bring back pay for outcome instead of pay for procedure. That I think is the key lever to get all types of innovation moving.

    Unemployment in the US is very uneven. Even during the height of unemployment in the US, if you had a graduate degree of any kind unemployment was below 5%. If you had a degree in any type of STEM or qualt field it was 3%. The thing about service work is that much of it CAN”T be outsourced making it an appealing place ftenor institutional solutions since companies can’t just go to an unregulated third world country. OF there isn’t that big a trade off between low wage and high wage products and services in terms of cost. Its a matter of how production is organized and how productivity gains are split between labor and capital. There are examples across all industries of family wage supporting organizations competing successfully against low wage rivals. It is possible. Again, lets look at Germany. It faces the same technological and globalization threats to family sustaining wages, yet they are doing it – holding on to manufacturing jobs (and so are we interestingly enough), and creating service jobs that pay livable wages. It turns out Germany is a pretty family friendly place to live and has tons of stay at home moms to boot. Mormons should love that place!

  70. Ryan, c’mon. You know we love you, but you can do better than throw mudballs. I’m sure the quick reply to that is to say that you expected more of us, but again — c’mon you can do better (in every sense).

  71. As I understood it, health care reform was supposed to address two problems: High rate of uninsured, and high total health care cost. Actually, I’d say the initial pitch was LOWER TOTAL HEALTH CARE COSTS!!! and (imagine the next part in a smaller font) reduce the number of uninsured to near zero. As the process evolved, the emphasis was reversed, and the outcome was something that does not address total cost reduction in any meaningful way. Despite the potential for some cost savings due to a more outcomes-based approach (admittedly very difficult to predict), my understanding was that independent analyses support this expectation. On the contrary, what is clear is that hospital profits go down (we’re already seeing staff reductions in our area), insurance rates for the previously insured are going up, and there is a significant resulting increase in the national deficit over the next decade. Maybe lower profits will drive “organizational innovation”, but I have a hard time imagining that that will do more than make up the loss.

    Of course you can argue that’s what we decide to do as a moral society, or a Christian element within that society – sacrifice something of our own in order to ensure that poor people aren’t suffering or dying in our backyard for lack of access. Then you can argue that a government program is the way to go, or you can propose some other approach. Or you can say that if they just work harder they can pull them selves up by their bootstraps. I feel like I still haven’t heard any compelling approach to a solution (despite the apparent determination of some to find dogma in anything that doesn’t resemble the words coming out of their own mouths), but am certainly not satisfied with the status quo.

  72. …and my fear is that any attempted solution that isn’t based on a careful, thorough understanding of rising costs risks spawning something catastrophically unsustainable.

  73. Ryan Bell says:

    Steve, I hope the brevity of my response doesn’t make it just look like an angry drive-by. There was a real point there that I think is worth engaging. That is, I think many who find this post thought-provoking or even glee-inducing would have a different reaction to a post employing the same or similar scriptures to show how the apocalypse is rushing in upon us as a direct result of the abortions taking place each year in the United States. Or as a result of the break-down of traditional families. Or . . . Hollywood. Whatever. The point is that we all agree this type of scriptural exploitation is usually silly and always inflammatory.

    My comment was meant to remind people that such posts, when they support your own ideology, just look like interesting thought experiments or innovative interpretation. When they don’t support your ideology, they are rank proof-texting and borderline blasphemy. I thought that perspective would be helpful.

    To differentiate between this post and the possible posts I’ve mentioned above, I think one would need to argue that there is truly better support for this post, or that this interpretation is qualitatively different from those ones. But I don’t see it. It’s all speculation, it’s all slightly self-serving, and it’s all non-persuasive to a person not already ascribing to a certain point of view. Is it the end of the world? Heavens no (except in the instance of climate change, which it may be). But it smells just a little in light of the universal condemnation of the conservative crackpots in the world who bend scriptures nefariously for their own ends.

    There, was that better?

  74. Much better, but as I said above — applying the scriptures in this way is inevitable and part of how humans operate. More, the scriptures themselves are by their terms meant to be applied to our individual contexts. The prooftexting and blasphemy you’re warning about are totally par for the course when someone doesn’t agree with your conclusions. Is that surprising to anyone?

  75. Ryan Bell says:

    Understood. Let me revise my response to the original post:

    Prooftexting! Blasphemy!

    And by the way the Book of Revelation, three chapters in the gospel of John, two Lectures on Faith and a handful of Proverbs (all citations available upon request) prove that this world’s end will be ushered in by (1) vaccinations and (2) teacher’s unions.

  76. Better support for this post than one pointing to abortions, the break-down of traditional families, or Hollywood leading to the end of society? I imagine that, awful as those things are, the fact that they did not (as far as we know) lead to the downfall of any societies in the Book of Mormon. What did? Mistreatment of the poor and pride. Over and over and over again.

    I realize that issues like pornography and family life get more attention in General Conference. Sure, we now have a fourth mission of the church that involves helping the poor, but despite a focus on that issue by our current prophet, we still hear a whole lot about sex and families. I don’t think anyone here is pretending those issues are unimportant.

    However, that being said, if we’re looking strictly at the Book of Mormon, it’s pretty clear where the focus is. Pornography and gay marriage are obviously never mentioned. What is mentioned many times is the pride cycle, which often if not always includes a separation between the rich and the poor. That’s what leads to destruction time and time again, and to pretend otherwise is to wilfully ignore one of the main messages of the book.

  77. Ryan, no doubt our beliefs and ideologies tend to color how we interpret data, including the scriptures. As a completely unbiased and 100% objective outside observer, I have to agree that this blog is on the whole more tolerant of liberal bias (at least “Mormon liberal”) than conservative, though clearly there are assertive individuals across the spectrum. That said, even if the OP is an interpretation grossly perverted by the author’s ideology, I think his original question stands: What are the alternative interpretations of these verses? So far no one has taken up the invitation. Even if it’s some other gross perversion born out of some other ideology, let’s have it aired ad hold it up to scrutiny. I don’t know how else to separate legitimate thought from mindless ideology.

  78. Exactly Tim. I’m still waiting for the de-proof texting of these, which seem as clear in context as out. I’m not sure what spin I’ve put on them by offering them, but these seem to be the fundamental message of the BofM and NT over and over. Wishing them away by clothing them in the label ‘Liberal” may be a nice strategy, but I’d really like to keep them in the BofM if I can have my druthers.

  79. Yes, Aaron, that’s what I meant to say (we posted simultaneously).

  80. Ryan Bell says:

    I never intended to challenge the notion that the scriptures are quite fixated on the treatment of the poor by societies and individuals. I apologize for being vague. I do not think that interpretive endeavors grown from a foundation of scriptural mandates to care for the poor are necessarily ill-advised; quite the opposite. Nor do I think such concerns the sole province of politically liberal saints– that teaching is something I and many other more “conservative” saints care deeply about. And agreed that this is a major thrust of the Book of Mormon.

    My reaction focuses more on the climatology half of SteveP’s post, the notion that destruction of the environment may bring about the disasters foretold by scripture as direct consequence of our stewardship over the earth. That seems to me a flight of fancy similar to someone leveraging several scriptures to support the idea that gay marriage will bring the fall of civilization. Some of the interpretations regarding rich and poor as well, which involve clear insinuations of American avarice, are also clearly speculative, and yes, politically weighted.

    Yes, we all try our best to apply scriptures in ways that make sense to us, but I think the more experimental of these projects are usually best done in private, without any intention to preach to or persuade others. Even if preaching or persuasion are not the intention, they often feel implicit.

  81. I stand firmly by what I wrote. Watching the environmental disasters largely created by the rich nations unfold in the poor nations is hard to ignore e.g., 80% deforestation rates in South east asia, Brazil, China, Africa is astonishing, driven mostly by the wealth, and suffered by the poor is just one example. When you add the effect of climate change it’s staggering. It’s an occupational hazard when you are working in the area not to be struck while watching these effects unfold in real time.

  82. By the way, habitat destruction and climate change are not a ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ issue. I know many scientists on both sides of the divide working in the area who are concerned about environmental justice and how the rich nations are exploiting the poor nations. The evidence is scientific, and there are proposals from many perspectives which are often informed by political values, but the facts on the ground in the main are not in scientific dispute.

  83. I think we saw a clear example of this in Haiti a few years back. Deforestation didn’t cause the storm that pretty much destroyed the country, but it’s doubtful the destruction would’ve been anyway near that bad had deforestation not happened.

    Human greed leads to environmental degradation leads to destruction.

    We saw the same thing in New Orleans–destruction of wetlands leads to a lack of buffer and the disaster is much worse than it would have been otherwise.

    It’s an interesting concept, and it’s clearly already happening. Natural disasters today are often amplified due to human-caused environmental degradation. Unless things change around in a big way, at least some of the disasters that occur with the Apocalypse will certainly be amplified due to the same factors..

  84. Glad to see that Nibley’s call to repentance still lives.

  85. DeepThink says:

    I find the deeper question in Mandy’s reply more interesting. Not “should I give even if I suspect I might be hoodwinked?”…that’s an easy one. Being more generous is better than being less. The better question to discuss here is: “what creates entitlement and enablement” in charity? I find it frustrating that those who are strong on helping the poor *never* seem to address this question. There are, without question, many poor people who are doing the very best they can. And giving financial help is like giving them a long, cool drink on a hot day. I say: let’s do more of this! But there is another group for whom our giving creates a view of themselves that is destructive…and that is that they do not believe they have what it takes to be creative and generative in their lives. I feel responsible for this, in a macro sense. It’s not a heart waxed cold that worries about this. It is a sense of deep respect for the humanity of people who, when they begin to *see* themselves as they truly are, can find their way. Yes, they need help, but what kind? And where is it…in the macro sense? It’s a calling forth of our possibility. Show me the way, I will give myself to this work. I am moved by the work of micro-lending, which started from this very premise. In fact Mohammed Yunus speaks quite unapologetically about the destruction done by charity. His answer is micro-lending. Is there a first world correlate?

  86. nat kelly says:

    “Who is it that ‘oppresses the hireling his wages’?”

    Hyatt! http://www.hyatthurts.org/

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