The following papers were prepared for this summer’s AudioFeed Festival re. a sharing slot I was offered at the Asylum Tent. As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn
AUDIOFEED FESTIVAL- ASYLUM TENT 2019
GLENN KAISER’S COMMENTS ON “INCOME INEQUALITY” and “POLARIZATION”
[NOTE- the following two papers are my views and my writing alone with the exception of my quote from The Daily Bible Verse in the Polarization piece. I claim total responsibility for them, and I have no problem with either your agreement or disagreement. What I write and conclude here may or may not be aligned with either Asylum or AudioFeed Festival leadership and organizers! -Glenn Kaiser, July 2019]
Intro.: at first these two bits of writ will seem very separate in terms of streams of thought. They are not, rather they are truly two sides of a deeper consideration of loving as Jesus has called and commanded us to love.
INCOME INEQUALITY: WHAT I BELIEVE ARE KEY ISSUES
The rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16.19-31) is one biblical mic drop- all those the words of Jesus Himself. Another is where James writes about the church giving slack and place to the wealthy and turning the poor away. (James 2.1-13 and especially 5.1-6) In chapter five he writes one of the most harsh rebukes you’ll ever find in the New Testament.
We simply shrug. Like Ayn Rand in “Atlas Shrugged”, like Darwin and others so-called ethic “survival of the fittest”. Perhaps like the most extreme reformed/Calvinistic concept that the poor were likely predestined for damnation, the Potter apparently created them for the trash heap?
Or we take the truly American core-value judgement not having any clue how a person ended up so poor, so in the gutter: they’re merely reaping what they’ve sown. If we are judged as we judge we’re all in deep trouble with God!
The alcoholic, the drug addict, the physically mentally ill (dna or life’s battering, sexual or other abuse or??) and a greater amount of such inner city and rural homeless “bums” who returned from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or other military actions who now find little grace (UNMERITED FAVOR) or compassion from even professing Christ-followers.
But wait- no problem for them to find and maintain a living wage job, housing, actual affordable health care, right?
It’s even easier when you’re black, brown, red, might have one or more records of jail or even prison time because nobody ever falls into racism when judging and deciding a court case, correct?
So the poor often sit in jail or perhaps ultimately in prison and whether a few days, a week or years waiting behind bars, more time served, those who had been employees in a legal job are no longer employed -and in many cases will be considered unemployable.
When most or all of your immediate family, friends, school mates, your local “social club” (perhaps some are best called “gangs”) where poverty is erased and status is conferred by the toughest, meanest and on occasion most lethal people who can always help one find a rather profitable living in some form of “sex work” or illegal drug trade.
Then we have the prison industry linked tightly with the bail and bail-bond industry where those with money can keep their job because paying bail isn’t an issue -but it keeps the poor in jail awaiting trial, often for several years.
Those with the money can afford legal defense that often brings a much lesser, more gracious sentence if not complete freedom from a given case/crime.
On the other end of the economic spectrum consider inheritance, corruption or even actual hard work and stir in the very common “manifest destiny” concept held by so many in our world. “God INTENDED for me to win, control, climb the ladder to success and wealth- AND I’VE EARNED IT!!” Unlike that sinner over there. Why should I give him or her a job? Can I trust them?
Especially when the employer is a professing Christian and such judgments are made- and of course some with a real measure of sense and concern for safety and production of whatever the business does or makes… well now we have the perfect storm for continual crime, poverty, lousy housing and who holds the keys? Those with the most wealth and therefore politcal clout locally and federally. Those who place politicians who will agree with them -the employer over employee-, and whom they bankroll to election and laws favoring the corporation rather than the workers.
If all this sounds like leftist, socialist, even communist diatribe, spend serious time studyig Acts 2.42-47 and 4.32-37.
If the CHURCH rarely lives this out in our time how can we expect the world around the church to?
Study the Kibbutz movements in Israel and their histories, many (not all) with mixed Jewish and Arab community members -not perfect (nor was the early Jerusalem Church of course) but a sense of equity and belonging there and indeed in Years of Jubilee (Old Testament) brought an equity and debt-forgiveness that neither most Christians nor unbelievers in mainstream society seem willing to help create. The rich for the most part, “make the rules”.
It indeed seems to me the apostles and first disciples in the Book of Acts/early Church were more focused on stewardship and discipleship than ownership or position. I’ve long been convinced scriptural justice blooms in such ground.
To be very clear, racial inequality breeds income inequality just as does gender (men garnering higher wages than women for the same work).
Questions and Answers please, and Thanks for reading/caring!
From The Daily Bible Verse via Grace.NYC, Pastor Dave Whitehead:
Colossians 3.12-13 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Paul’s admonition to the Colossian believers is a call back to the gospel. One of the true tests of a believer is how they respond when faced with the pain of offense. If our identity is in the love that the Father showers upon us, then we are able to reflect the nature of the Holy Spirit to others. This is not a display of our benevolence, but an exercise in our personal awareness of our daily need for Jesus. To hold grudges against each other shows that we have forgotten our own need for mercy.
GK: It”s natural and common and not automatically sin and sinful to want to be with people like us, like ouselves, those who share our way of thinking, seeing things, who share our culture and subculture.
As much as we all like and want to be accepted, affirmed, even loved, as much as we all seek comfort and a comfortable space, this can also be a trap.
If we don’t pay attention we can take this so far we begin to be super afraid or in the other end of the emotional spectrum, judge, ignore or actually hate those people “not like us”.
This is a way polarization happens outside and inside the church. We begin to separate ourselves from those not like us out of fear or rage -to feel safe, but how do we love our enemies by doing that?
I am NOT saying stay in a truly abusive relationship, not at all! I am saying in general that if we only love those who love us we are failing a core Gospel command to, as Jesus said, “Love others as I have loved you.”
WE are “the other” to Jesus! We are so unlike Him in so many ways! What is His response?
Father SENDS His Son, God takes on human form and walks among us.
If you have the gift of prophecy you may be most comfortable with other prophets. If you have the spiritual gift of mercy you will gravitate to merciful people, if a pastor, other pastors and so on. Those who best understand and accept our calling, spiritual gifting and culture are the ones we want to hang with. Makes total sense!
But if we aren’t careful we become like the Pharisees in how they thought of and routinely treated the Samaritans.
Polarization should never be confused with sanctification. Polarization and biblical sanctification are not synonymous!
Further IF Eric Liddell (of “Chariots of Fire”) was correct- and I believe he was when he said “We are ALL missionaries wherever we may go.”- God has given every Christ-follower a calling to interact WITH GRACE toward people “not like us”, to express His love, His mercy, truth with patience and kindness toward “the other”, to live the Gospel and share the Gospel with those we strongly disagree with, to share it with compassion towards those who may actually disgust us!
Politics, theological hair-splitting, even simple challenges from others that cause us to want to choke them or just run away fast, you know… “fight or flight” are common.
In the world you shall have tribulation.
We all need Audiofeeds, Asylum Tents, people we don’t have to continually explain ourselves to… but we also need to learn, and grow in and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit with those unlike us.
Jonah wanted nothing to do with the Ninevites but God loved that wicked people and picked ornery, self-righteous, rebellious Jonah to bring them God’s message of rebuke, repentance and reconciliation with God or complete annihilation. Jonah was a mess but eventually obeyed God -and God spared Nineveh.
We don’t know if Jonah ever grew up -but we need to.