Tag Archives: fairness

I don’t mind stealing bread

“I don’t mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadence

but I can’t feed on the powerless when my cup’s already overfilled”

-Hunger Strike, Temple of the Dog (1991)

I heard this song today.  I remembered identifying with the lyrics way back when I was a teenager and heard this song the first time and loved it.  I remembered thinking “yeah, that’s right.”

Then I thought about who I am today, particularly in light of my relationship with Jesus Christ.  What’s different?  Would I mind literally or figuratively stealing “from the mouths of decadence?” (unfortunately, I don’t think I’d mind too much) To feed myself or my family?  Would I feel badly about it?  What about stealing from the poor and powerless? (depending on the situation – I bet I could rationalize this to myself too)

I also thought – what if I’m the mouth of decadence?  Aren’t I?  Who am I to draw the line and say “you’re too wealthy, you’re poor. I’m somewhere between and am therefore, somehow ok”?

By driving around wealthy Boulder, Colorado today in my almost-new, bought on payments, little Honda Hybrid car… aren’t I contributing to the great feeding upon the powerless of the world through consumerism?

This inner dialogue formed a freshly regurgitated debate in my mind that has been continuously unsettled:  Where does (or would) Jesus stand today on western culture social justice issues?  Particularly the very popular humanist perspectives that I see strongly in our  youth and young adults on ideas like:  income equality, health care reform, elective life choices like marriage and birth (or abortion), universal religion, etc…

What about those Christians who would claim that being a good Christian means you work hard and earn what you deserve?  and by inverse implication – if you don’t have anything – you deserved it?  Is this the same as “an honest day’s work”?  Or “go to the ant, you sluggard…” (Prov 6:6)?

Or is this more like “Don’t judge (or condemn)…” (Mat 7:1 and many more)?  Did Jesus only mean – don’t judge another person’s salvation – when he said that?  Which judging or condemning is encouraged by Jesus?

What about “love thy neighbor” (Mark 12:31 and others)?  What about “the greatest of these is love” (1Cor13:13)?

Am I asking more questions than providing answers or opinions?  Welcome to my brain.  Now you know why the blog is called “Otter Confusion”.

So where does Jesus stand on social justice in the way that we think about it in America today?  Would he be friendlier with the lazy hippies or the hard-working republicans?  What would he stand for – today – when presented by a modern Pharisee with a social justice “gotcha” question?

More importantly, how should I personally respond to that?  What’s my responsibility as a Christian towards social justice?  Should I just exercise what I believe to be appropriate justice through my own life and choices – prayerfully considered – and faithfully executed (only on the best of days do I actually find myself doing this)?  Or should I stand up for more than that – take to the streets – join the “1% vs 99%” rally?  Or – depending on your perspective on the above questions – an American Republican “tea party” rally?

Or do I just look for more ways to Love others directly – and stay out of the fray?

(in retrospect, this last option seems to have been my unintentional life’s mission since becoming a Christian)

Where do I go from here – particularly on this day of government shutdown – on the brink of collapse of our beautiful nation founded on the principles of Love and Freedom?

Maybe another song, also currently playing on the repeat track in my brain…

“Stand up, We shall not be moved

Except by a child with no socks or shoes

If you’ve got more to give than you’ve got to prove

Put your hands up and I’ll copy you

Stand up, We shall not be moved

Except by a woman dying from the loss of food

If you’ve got more to give than you’ve got to prove

Put your hands up and I’ll copy you”

-Stand Up, Flobots

Or maybe not.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Micah 6:8)


Suing for Divine Intervention

For the past several years I’ve participated in a great message board with some online friends that I’ve made over the years.  This board is available to the public but it’s kind-of tucked away in a quiet little corner of the internet, way down in Australia.  Some of my friends on this board live in Australia (of course) but many are scattered around the globe.  All of them speak English either as a first or second language and live in relatively first-world free nations (many also in the U.S.).

I’m really the only Christian on that board that I know of.  The other active board members seem to represent what is actually a really healthy cross-section of the young (under 40) first world.  We used to have a devout Catholic friend, but he’s been busy lately and not around.  Some of the discussions on there can be downright nasty in terms of their content, stuff that makes me uncomfortable.  Most of them are amazing talks about “isn’t this cool” or “doesn’t that suck” or “how do you guys process this?”.

What I love the most about this message board is that it’s just bleeding with authenticity and mutual respect.  If you come in and present a well thought out argument about almost anything, you’ll get a lively and respectful discussion or debate about it.  You won’t get posts filled with personal insults or “you are wrong you stupid head!”.  I’ve tried my hardest to live up to that standard of communication on that system although sometimes I fail.

Some of the the theological thought experiments that I’ve participated in on that system have really caused me to grow and changed my own mind about some things.  I think I will start to share some of my own responses here to those concepts just to expand the audience a little and share more about my thoughts with whatever audience it is that seems to enjoy reading this narcissistic blog about ME.

—- introduction complete —-

A friend today posted an article about a real court case happening right now in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.  (the link is a Google Translate copy of the article)

A quote from the article (translated into English):

In Fortaleza, Ceará, owner Tarcília Bezerra built an expansion of its cabaret, whose activities were in constant growth after the creation of unemployment insurance for fishermen and various other types of bags.

In response, the Church Universal site launched a strong campaign to block the expansion, with prayer sessions in his church in the morning, afternoon and evening.

The expansion and renovation work progressed rapidly until a week before reopening when lightning struck the cabaret burning electrical installations and causing a fire that destroyed the roof and much of the construction.

After the destruction of the cabaret, the pastor and the church believers began to brag about “the great power of prayer.”

So Tarcília sued the church, the pastor and all the congregation, on the grounds that they “were responsible for the end of your building and your business” using divine intervention, direct or indirect, and the actions or means. “

In its response to the lawsuit, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection with the end of the building.

The judge to whom the case was referred to the author read the complaint and the answer of the defendants and to the oral opening, said:

– “I do not know how I’m going to decide this case, but one thing is evident in the records. Here we have an owner of a cabaret that firmly believes in the power of prayer and an entire church declaring that prayers are worthless “.

After I remarked that this makes absolutely no sense to me, my friend then challenged me as a Christian with this very good question

“what would you do if someone tried to sue you over some action that you believed was accomplished through your prayer?”

This was my response:

I’ve never considered prayer as a liability.

See the problem is this:  God doesn’t answer to me.  He does what he wants.  I try to pray/petition as little as possible because I seldom feel worthy to ask for anything specific… instead I’ll ask for things like “God’s will in this matter” and “peace and strength to endure for the people involved”.  That’s typically the kind of prayer I make in times of hardship.  I don’t like the idea of suggesting to God what he should do.

The funny part about that is – there IS allowance in the Bible for us to challenge God and in times of PERSONAL crisis, I have done that and seen results.  Even still, I have to think that even my part in petitioning had to be a part of his plan to teach me dependence and build my faith and if my request hadn’t been in accordance with that overall plan, then it certainly wouldn’t have been “granted”.  Relevant example – would God have saved my wife’s life miraculously (it really was a miracle) had I and others not prayed directly for healing?  I can’t really guess, because that’s not what happened.

but to be liable?

when I pray to God – I’m not hiring a hitman who’ll do my bidding in exchange for a favor.  I am no less a favored child of God than any other human and so I haven’t EARNED POINTS with him for good deeds or obedience or whatever that I can cash in for certain requests at my personal whim… and THANK GOD it doesn’t work that way.  I’m asking God… like hey dude… this sucks… if you can do something about it, would you?  If you won’t, will help me understand why not?  I think that’s almost verbatim what I prayed every night while my wife was in a coma.

So am I responsible for God’s actions?  Never.

Can a court hold me personally responsible through circumstantial cause and effect relationships?  I suppose they could try.  I’d try the argument I just gave above, but they might not buy it… they might blame me.

If they blamed me for God’s actions and I was punished, I’d file that under ‘persecution’ and you can bet I’d be praying about that too… in the same way… like hey dude… this sucks, I’m taking this rap for you… will you help me out?  and if not, will you help me understand why not?

The bible also has examples of people literally taking the rap for believing in God (boiled in oil, hung on an upside-down crucifix).  They didn’t escape their death… but then again… we really like martyrdom in ancient philosophies, don’t we?

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What do you think?