I don’t know why I feel the need to put my neck on the chopping block by discussing my political views. I guess it’s because I’m reading two VERY DIFFERENT political sort of books right now, Bill O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior and Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s Jesus for President. I’ll try to tag all my political posts as such so that you can skip them if you find my views offensive.
First of all, my thoughts on Bill O’Reilly’s book. I’m reading it because my dad has been pestering me to since he gave it to me last year. He really wants me to read it before the election, so I’m trying to do that. I know that Bill O’Reilly has a tv show which I’ve never watched, and I know very little about him. I really don’t usually like to talk bad about people. I’m sure Bill O’Reilly would be a nice-enough person if I met him. But since he has no problem ripping people to shreds in his book, I think it will be okay to give my first impression of him. First thoughts are that he comes across as an arrogant blowhard. I’m thinking that this probably appeals to some of the older generation such as my dad, but this does not appeal to me at all. I think that I would probably be right in saying that it doesn’t appeal to many my age and younger. He comes across in such an over-the-top way that I want to question even the things that I already agree with him on.
This makes a strong contrast to the tone of Jesus for President. The authors come across as people who are humbly and honestly seeking to live for God in all areas of their lives, including God’s views on kings(rulers), empires, and the poor. They start in the “Hebrew scriptures”(I like their term for it rather than the Old Testament) and walk through the Bible looking at God’s views on these things. Here’s a quote to hopefully whet your appetite (I REALLY want more people to read this book! 🙂 :
The Sabbath laws were put in place not just so people could go to worship services on Sunday (or Saturday) mornings but to make sure that the Hebrew people didn’t revert to the exploitative economy of the empire from which they were saved. If they were going to be a peculiar people, then they needed a peculiar kind of economy. Instead of trying to reform the empire’s economy when they were in Egypt, God brought them out to this new place so that they could cultivate an entirely new economy. Yahweh’s economy of life rather than the imperial economy of death.
The Sabbath laws were sort of like God’s system of checks and balances on Israel’s economy to make sure that no one got too rich and no one got too poor. God knew the painful reality of human sin all to well and the probability that the Hebrew people might drift back into a society of haves and have-nots. To prevent this distorted economy from developing, God got creative and came up with these Sabbath laws.
I love this quote, “the imperial economy of death,” and think that it’s particularly appropriate with all of the talk/worry about the economy this week.
It seems to me that Bill O’Reilly is against the rich having to share their wealth. He seems to think that they earned it all on their own, so they should get to keep it. He accuses people who think otherwise of being Communists. I think most people with any knowledge of history know that although the ideals of Communism sound good it simply does not work (ie. former Soviet Union, Maoist China). I think most compassionate people would just like for our country to make it a little bit easier on people who have had a rough start in life or are down on their luck or have made some bad choices(haven’t we all, after all–some just have longer lasting consequences than others).
I believe that ultimately the government will not be the ones that make a difference in the lives of struggling, suffering people. I believe that it will be individual Christ-followers choosing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of helping their fellow man, not just their money either, but their time, their education, and other resources.
I have been meaning to share this story for quite some time, and now seems like a good time. The town where we live is unusual in that their is not a “good side” and “bad side” of town–people who live on S. Montgomery might beg to differ ;-). There are patches of “bad” mixed in with the “good”. So we have some housing projects two blocks from the house we have lived in for ten years. I drive by these housing projects nearly every time I go somewhere. So I began praying years ago that God would show me someway to help the people who live there.
Two years ago in December, a lady came around asking if she could rake leaves or do something to earn money for her children’s Christmas presents. I was on my way to a Christmas tea with some dear friends, but Tommy and I quickly decided to let her rake our leaves. (I actually love having the crunchy leaves all over my yard!) I talked to her a few minutes before I left, and we connected. I knew immediately that God had sent this person to me.
We have known each other for almost two years, and she has become one of my best friends. Most people would say that she is lucky to have me in her life because I have helped her in a lot of ways. But they don’t see the whole story–the ways that she truly gives back to me. She is one of the most encouraging people I know in a world where I’ve found that there are few encouragers left. There are plenty of people who want to tell you what you’re doing wrong(in this very blog ironically enough 😉 ).
The reason I want to share that story is to say that over the past two years I have also walked alongside my friend and seen how very hard it is to pull yourself up when you get to the place that she has been. It is a long hard road. Did she make bad choices? She will readily tell you “yes”. Does she deserve to stay where her choices led her? I don’t think so. If you look at Scripture, we all deserve death. My friend loves her children deeply and is working extremely hard (harder than many of my friends) to make a better life for them.
I will say that this has taken A LOT of time on my part even time away from my family which I consider my most important job. But I believe that in the long run the lessons my children learn from this will be far more valuable than any of the “school” lessons that I teach them.