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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Makers, Takers, and the Reality of the Gospel

There's been a ton of dialogue bounded about from the religious right, particularly in support of what may seem like conservative principles in government.  Some of that dialogue is centered around the ideas of self-sufficiency, supported by the notion that the "poor shall always be among you", that there are "makers" and "takers" in this country.  Pretty much an unbridled web of anger directed at those who can't seem to be just like them.  It's ironic, given the times, that so many on the religious right (Franklin Graham, etc.) seem to view Donald Trump as a kind of God-ordained savior.  This is a man who, regardless of your politics, clearly believes in the riches of this world, which is his prerogative by the way.

I'm reminded, though, from back in my C.C.D. days with the good Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22, verses 36 to 40:

"Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and will all they soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and the great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

(King James Version; reference HERE...sorry Sisters!)

The next time a self-proclaimed Christian, such as Speaker Paul Ryan, proposes legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), how wonderful would it be to measure such a thing against those simple few lines?  Call me crazy, but if a new law could cause harm to your neighbor, then maybe it's un-Christian.  Now that could be called okay form a federal budget perspective, but it can't be called Christian, nor should the proponents of just such legislation be called that (Christian) either.  Far too many in federal elected office seem to leverage their "Christian" faith as a tool to woo voters, but yet fail to remember just how that Christian faith actually should operate in practice.

Again, this is pretty simple stuff:  If you are a Christian, you are commanded (not asked, but commanded) to love your neighbor as yourself.  No footnote there; no exclusions for "takers", no special love provided for "makers", no additional requirement to "pull oneself up by the bootstraps".  Just " thy neighbor as thyself".  I would want, for example, members of Congress to have substance abuse coverage in their healthcare benefit so maybe family members of theirs wouldn't needlessly die from a drug overdose.  Yes, if Speaker Ryan enjoys coverage for pre-existing conditions, for mental health care, or countless other benefits in his healthcare coverage (as a member of Congress), then he shouldn't be proposing that those things be excluded for others.  Period.  His willingness, along with President Trump, to strip away many of those things in Affordable Care Act replacement last week, in order to win over hard-right conservatives, is the opposite of "love thy neighbor as thyself".

Gut check here:  Is this a case of the "pot calling the kettle black"?  Am I engaging in hypocrisy here?  Those are reasonable questions, and the short answer is no.  You will not find the public me, as in what's written in over 1800 postings on this website, proclaiming myself to be a good Christian.  I'm not even sure I've referred to myself as being a Christian of any sort.  I simply don't deserve the title.  What I am, in two words, is "deeply flawed".  What I don't do is proclaim being a "Christian" in order to garner personal/political power while simultaneously disavowing the core tenants of that faith when it comes to taking action.  I'll leave that sort of thing to Speaker Ryan.

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