A Bible Verse for the 1%

James 5.1-6a
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

Share (%) of National US Income for Richest 1% (1974-2010)

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52 thoughts on “A Bible Verse for the 1%”

  1. I have been poor, in economic terms.  For a while, as I was digging out, I was what people call one of the "working poor."

    I was never homeless.

    I never collected public assistance, unless you count while I was a child in my mother's custody.  Or, as an adult when I served as my mother's financial and healthcare Power of Attorney -- and she depended on Medicare + Medicaid assistance.  All those haters of gov't social programs and the leeches who live off the system can feel free to crucify me in their rebuttals now.  :-)

    My heart does go out to those who live in poverty.  There are so many reasons why -- even in this "great land of opportunity" a person can find him or herself in dire, "needy" circumstances.  Once in that situation, it is very, very difficult to get out.  So much conspires against a person, even one who has some will and "skills" to make it up and out.  For one thing, since this is a blog with the theme of merging psychology and theology, I will say -- from personal experience -- that those who are beaten down by oppressive forces in their life need more than a word of hope; they need others to speak and show them a vision of a different way.  I mean it.  When poverty is all that you've known, those who have been "successful" and that whole American dream thing seems like another world.

    When I think of how I was one of the poor once, and how I could (probably) very easily be one of the poor again, if suddenly the odds were not so much in my favor...  Then it isn't such a stretch for me to understand how a person could fall down and be in need of a break.  I turn again to Radical Compassion, Ch. 10, "Poverty is Not a Crime: Eddie's Letter:"

    "Sometimes it's hard living on the streets.  And there are some people that don't understand homelessness.  Some of them get treated like s%&*.  It's sometimes cold outside, but not as cold as people...  Stop the abuse!  You're killing God's children spiritually.  P.S. If you ever look into a homeless person's eyes, don't judge them.  Simply say something nice..."

    Fr. Gary concludes this way:  [Eddie's] plea serves as an invitation to those of us who want to understand and as a condemnation of those fools who write off the homeless as losers who brought their troubles upon themselves."  (p. 138-9)

    I don't know that one can be shamed into caring.  James sure takes a whack at it in the passage cited!  Gotta love James for the case he makes for practical Christianity.  :-)  I am not sure that I can do anything about the obscenely rich who don't care about the collateral damage of sustaining their lifestyle at the expense of the deprivation and suffering of others.  Those people seem untouchable to me.  But the poor are right here, in my local setting, and in my personal life.  I struggle all the time to know how I can help, and then to do that.  I know that I do not do enough, which weighs on my conscience every day.

    That's my story.  ~Peace~

  2. I agree, I don't think shaming is effective. I stumbled across this text on Sunday--it really blows your hair back--and it reminded me of a book I've been reading about income inequality in America. That's where the chart comes from. So I gathered them both to let them stand here together.

  3. Dr. Beck, I am sorry to have come across as being critical of you.  If anything, James is the one with whom to take up my complaint.  I do believe that the Bible is filled with passages (some whole books, in fact) that make clear the shameful ways of the world.  I think when I read it, *I* am supposed to feel uncomfortable about the things that need to change.  I don't think I can force someone else to feel what I feel about the passage or the situation.  This is my current spiritual lesson, as I see it:  Hold onto my convictions, act on them with all my strength, and maybe others will see that it's for real and be moved to join with me.  How else does one actively work toward change and healing and peace in a non-violent manner?  (Non-violent as in absence of force or coercion.)

    I think you are in an influential position and have earned the respect of many, so if you have a word in your heart to speak -- even if it ruffles a few feathers -- and you are able to withstand the backlash, let your voice be heard.  Nothing but gratitude and admiration from this reader/commenter.  ~Peace~

  4. And yet I know wealthy people who claim a deep faith, and who live relatively modestly, while exploiting the disadvantaged and hoarding the wealth they steal from the poor. They hoard wealth for the sake of hoarding wealth, pointing to it as a sign and symbol of God's favor. They decry the poor for their lack will/effort/skills/etc, and they deny themselves on the premise that extravagance is waste. And they pat themselves on the back for rewards that God has sent their way, and after paying their tithe, they proudly proclaim that with God's obvious approval they have stewarded their wealth into great fortunes, all the while oblivious to the twin imperatives to care for the "least of these" while avoiding hoarding wealth.

    Earth and success are not divine rewards but merely aspects of life which affect how one lives and how one is obligated to live as a Christian. To see wealth as a reward or blessing is to risk claiming entitlement, and to lose sight of the greater obligations that come with it.

  5. All kinds of hermeneutics issues, but in the matrix with James and that graph would have to be Haggai 1:9-11 and Amos 5:11.   And it doesn't solve a couple of problems: 1) the responsibility to use it wisely/correctly is with the person who has it and 2) the law doesn't save, so even if we the people taxed it from them it wouldn't solve the issue.  (The above graph is going at at the same time as a more and more people were removed from the tax roles.)  The need is for the guiding presence of the Spirit and the acceptance of the gospel. 

  6. Is there a "problem" here?  Some issue to be "solved"?

    I have never seen any comments on this blog from Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or any of the Fords or Rockefellers.  So I assume that both the blog author and all of the readers/commenters here are a part of the "99%", and the Bible quote is irrelevant and meaningless in the context of their lives.

    What, precisely then, is the issue, if it does not pertain to anyone reading this blog? 

  7. Hi Susan,
    No worries! I didn't hear a hint of criticism in your comments. All good.

  8. If you are alive today, in the First World, as compared to any other time and place. The 1% is us!

  9. So the poor and the middle class should just shut up already?  Pollyanna won't cut it anymore, nor should it.

  10. This makes me think of the Dublin Dr Pepper plant shutdown by Snapple Corp. A small Texas town with a heritage of about 120 years, a Dr Pepper plant that still used 1940s technology to bottle their unique product with a sugar cane recipe. And Snapple Corp., because the small town plant that employed about 45 people, encroached one-tenth-of-one-percent into their profit margin, revoked their license and shut it down. It's why I don't buy Snapple.

  11. Oh, great.  More fodder for the class-warfare demagogues.  Tell us, if you know:  were these percentages computed WITH income-redistribution payments included, or excluding them?  And what % of both taxes and charity was paid by these same folks?

    Let's also ask:  where are those "workers" who have not received their pay, the pay to which they agreed when they offered their work services to the evil 1%?Context, Dr. Beck, CONTEXT.

    *slapping forehead*


  12. Why isn't the responsibility to use it wisely/correctly with the community? With the government that grants and protects ownership?

    You seem very worried about the spiritual state of the rich.  What about the state of the poor?

    And I hope to God that the reference to Haggai isn't an unreflective promotion of Deuteronomistic theology.  That won't serve you or anyone else well.

  13. If the gospel is, at least part, the announcement of Jubilee, then why shouldn't we prophesy it?

  14. I fail to see how this is much fodder for the 1% to use against the rest of us.  ;-)

    Wage theft is real (wagetheft.org).  Refusal to pay a living wage is real.

    Charity is no substitute for justice.

  15. At first glance I thought this graph was going to be the percentage of world riches, the US held... an this was shocking to be sure. We are poor in spirit, but rich with options. Why is it OK for Christians, myself included, to expect God to provide us with some comfortable existence, while so much of the world is dying? How rich they are to be content with just a bowl of food and some clean water! There's nothing I can say here that hasn't been thought of already except to say "Thank you" to God for where he decided we would be born, and to say how tired and fed up I am with world, nation, state, and local systems concerned with only making money. The Powers and Principalities are in full force.

  16. Yes, this verse is for "the 1%" of Americans, who have a huge share of the wealth and are not using it well. But I don't think "the 99%" is off the hook- the United States in general is really rich, and ANYONE could be dishonestly hording their money.

    Don't forget that the bible was written for the whole world (you know, starting with Israel), not specifically for the US.

  17. I've heard capitalism defended by citing the commandment "Do not steal". But the context of that commandment for Israel is particular to no other time in the history of God's people. Land was distributed by divine dictation. God spoke to Moses face to face and this has never been repeated in establishing any socio-economic order in connection with a piece of land. If someone lost their land, it was restored every Jubilee. In their agrarian economy, the Law required that the corners of the fields be left and that the harvesters not go back to pick up what they dropped. And the tithe went to support the Levites and the poor. Failure to do all of this was considered stealing as much as lifting your neighbor's goods. There was a redistribution of wealth written into the same law that said "Do not steal."

    All material wealth can be traced back to the land. There is an abundance for all if the regenerative laws of nature are followed, and the soil cared for. Jubilee and the Sabbath fallow year are ancient practices that followed these laws of the creation. When Jesus arrives the way has been prepared by John. Every valley exalted and every hill made low is worked out in John's instructions, "He who has two coats must share with him who has none." So after John baptizes him into this new priesthood, outside the city. He is tempted in the wilderness by all the world's system. The exchange of bread for a service. Power. Heroism. He resists and is completely exhausted, needing the healing ministry of angels. Strengthened, he goes to publicly announce the year of the Lord's favor. Jubilee has come.

    But his followers look for a city not made with hands. It is no longer tied to the particular location along the fertile crescent. The kingdom of god is within, amongst us. The wealth of nations can be traced back to an autonomous land claim. Some king or speculator says "this is mine" because he has the military power to do so, whether or not someone else was living there or not. Then land/resources can be used as leverage to extract labor, fealty in exchange for bread, livelihood. I fail to see the morality in this system. I fail to see where it aligns with the notion of justice both in the Hebrew scriptures and the Gospel. It does not look like the kingdom of god. Even when colonists have overthrown the colonizers who sent them to their land. They continued colonizing, and did not stop to consider if the land was taken justly in the first place, and whether it needed to be restored to those it was taken from. And they continued trafficking human beings. So when I hear people complaining about someone forcibly taking the best of their hard earned labor, people who get to choose which restaurant to eat at or which pair of shoes to buy, when most of our goods comes from those who labor longer, harder, for not even enough to fill their childrens' bellies. Or from those children themselves...there's got to be something better.

  18. All the law does is multiply the sin.  (Rom 5:20).  Put simply the problem with most legal solutions is they just lead to greater and greater cheating.  More calls for greater regulation to stop the cheating.  And more poor people who can't afford to pay the expert advice getting caught in the traps that were for rich people.   The best thing would be really simple laws that were strictly enforced without regard to person.  But we never do that.  What we get is complex laws with crony deals and lobbyists.  Because we are all legalists at heart seeking to justify ourselves.

    I did mention hermeneutics issues which are about the application of OT directly to the NT.  But I guess I look at money issues through a vocations/stewardship lens.  We all have a vocation to manage what we are given well.  If you have been given a ton, you have a much larger burden.  Not only do you need to manage more well, but you need to fight the temptation to think that you earned it and that you are sufficient unto yourself.  Building bigger storehouses (like the chart) is one response.  And it is not the response of faith.  The history of Israel in those other quotes is one that has forgotten where the wealth came from and has started to look at wealth as the only thing important.  Hence neglecting their vocation and stewardship.  The hours ramp up, the work ramps up, and yet nothing comes of all of that work.  Those without a real voice are made to pay for the loses and poor stewardship.  A direct importing is a big mistake, but the echoes are awfully loud.

  19. And how, pray tell, did THAT happen?  Can you elaborate? 

    According to our Dear Leader, it is all the result of the efforts of the State, and not anything you or I have personally done or achieved.  Why, for heaven sakes then, this self-flagellating guilt?

  20. Well....if I were being bombed in Syria, I would speak out against the injustice. If I were a slave in Mauritania, I hopethat I or someone braver than I would speak out against the oppressors. We may not be the 1% but I bet many of us are the 8% regarding US wages, so we stand in a place to be able to make a difference. Along the lines of the Stringfellow writings we read recently on the blog, we are called to be a servant for the world and to be a voice for the voiceless....regardless of whether or not we are the oppressed ones.

  21. How about if I personally feel "oppressed" by the "injustice" of my disability?  Am I a "victim"?  Of whom or what?  How is the Scripture quoted relevant to me?  What am I to do with these feelings, which though not about money are nonetheless just as valid and real?  Beyond lip-service, what succor can you offer?

    Am I to feel responsible for "the poor" because through my own hard work and effort I have not only been able to keep the wolf from my door -- and now that of my family -- but also avoid asking others in my society to do the heavy lifting for me?  That IS my contribution to the poor.  I am in the minority of Americans (49%) who pay Federal Income Taxes.  I understand the ideology and philosophy behind James' statements.  I just don't consider them relevant to me personally.  I refuse to accept the implied "guilt".  And -- above all -- I have a keen understanding that material wealth is a RELATIVE thing.

    Beyond that, in today's political atmosphere, I see this post as an attempt not to inform but to provoke, which indeed it has.

  22. That's not what Romans 5:20 says.  Whether or not laws can be circumvented by cheating has nothing to do with that scripture.

  23. It is not your own work alone, Sam, that has kept you well so long.  There have been the common goods of civilization like the rule of law and freedom of movement.  There has been government-provided infrastructure.  There has been a good draw in the cosmic lottery.  There has been dumb luck.

    In truth, much heavy lifting has been done on your behalf with or without your asking for it, with or without your being conscious of it.  I think that the only way to incur guilt for that is to be ungrateful.

    Realize that many have done hard work without seeing the benefits that you have seen.  Many have despairingly given up on hard work when they see your benefits and their lack and realize that hard work isn't enough.

  24.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (Rom 5:20 ESV).  That is exactly what it says.  We are always trying to justify ourselves.  We are always trying to find the loophole in the law or the weak spot in the plumb line wall.  In fact the entire purpose of the law is to cause those actions, so that we might see our twisted self.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:20 ESV)  With that knowledge we might turn to the abounding grace.  That is human nature.  It is only when that legalist desire dies that we might have life.

  25. Then let us apply James to THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN THIS DESPICABLE PRACTICE, and let us not pretend that it is a characteristic practice of the so-called "1%."

  26. As many have pointed out since BHO put his ineffable ignorance on display, we did not need (for example) advanced, public transportation infrastructure until AFTER the automobile was invented and its commercial possibilities imagined.  Properly understood, human creativity identifies possibilities and devises means to achieve them, then the government rides in to [tax the hell out of it and] regulate it and "facilitate" it.

    This latest video clip of BHO, which spawned the conversation here, confirms an inarguable narrative:  BHO is a bitter, bitter man married to a bitter, bitter woman, taught by bitter, bitter parents and so-called "pastors," and perversely enjoying the fruits of our (read, taxpayers' ) labor while pretending to be an advocate for the poor and weak.Many who have achieved a great deal of material success here in America are the first to say how much they owe to others.  But the cynical slant BHO puts on that idea is precisely designed to foster resentment and hatred and division.  His perspective is deplorable and disgusting, as are his policies.  A great "unifier," indeed.

  27. My gracious, are you serious?  This federal "government that...protects ownership" first existed "by the consent of the governed," not the other way around.  

    And "GRANTS ownership?"  *swoon*  No wonder you think as you do.


  28. I agree that hard work enough is not enough.  Personal responsibility is the key.  Economic self-sufficiency is no crime.

    Perseverance, even in the face of overwhelming odds, will overcome most "cosmic lottery" inequities.  The grace to be willing to accept less than that which you feel you may be "owed", to live on less, to do without, to scrimp and save, yet still treat others fairly and kindly, and show respect.

    I am grateful that someone finally took a risk and gave me my first job.  And many of those risk-takers produce the bounty we all enjoy.  The rest, however, was up to me.

  29. Hi Sam,

    I have always seen you as a very strong person, and also a good man who strives to do the right thing.  Despite obstacles (e.g., your disability), you have not been defeated.  I think I can understand your desire to avoid a victim mentality (or being labeled that way).

    If, in speaking of injustice, we become more informed of ways that we can be more understanding and kind toward those who have been dealt a bad hand  (or those who are having a harder time "making it"), and maybe it provokes us to take small (or large) steps to make things better, then I think that this is a good dialogue to be having.  Not intended to inflict guilt and shame, but to brainstorm about what we might do in the face of suffering (others, or our own).

    In my own life, I am gratefully aware of help in many forms that has been extended to me.  If I have been blessed by those acts of compassionate care, and I am strong in any particular way, how can I be strong for those who are weaker (not victims, but in a vulnerable place -- maybe temporarily)?

    These are the questions I struggle with.  Thanks for wrestling through these difficult questions here, with me.

    I hold you in the highest regard, as always, Sam.  I value your ideas and experiences.  It is good to see you.  Take good care.  ~Peace~

  30. Here's an inarguable narrative for you.  It concerns your self-importance and two-bit Ayn Rand knock-off philosophy.  Want to see someone who's bitter?  Check your mirror.

  31. I can't really make out your meaning in the first paragraph.  Am I serious about what --- questioning the framing of the issue as individual ownership?  The scriptures do as much: "the earth is the LORD's."  We can argue about how the church should use that passage, but but it seems fairly reasonable to me to at least consider that the Christian position should be that ownership is an illusion of sorts.

    It seems quite a misreading of past events to claim that the U.S. federal government "first existed 'by the consent of the governed,'" unless I mistake what you mean by "first," "consent," and "governed."  Perhaps you could clarify.

    And I'm not sure what "the other way around" would be.

    I'm not sure why you are shocked at the idea of a government granting ownership: governments (like, e.g., the U.S.'s after the Revolution) commonly confiscate spoils and grant them to favored people (like, e.g., George Washiington).  Governments decide which claims of ownership they will or won't honor and enforce.

    "Are you serious?"   "No wonder you think as you do."  Those things sound like question-begging.  That's been your response to me of late when I've appealed to the doctrine of creation to lay the foundation for a doctrine of justice.  You've pshawed at the notion that people deserve an opportunity to earn a livelihood, despite that being a salient (prescribed) feature of the economy of ancient Israel.  And you seem here to be rejecting out of hand the ridiculous notion that communities should have a say over the use of "private property."

    Everybody considers some ideas out of bounds.  Do you have a good reason for your boundaries?

  32. You claimed that the law has only one function.  That is not what the verse says, and it's not what the whole witness of Scripture says.

  33. Are you talking about this?


    If we can't agree on what the original means, then we'll not make any progress.  But from my point of view, that's just flat-out lying by malicious editors.  The president isn't a consistently good guy, but that doesn't give anyone the right to make up extra, fictitious bad behaviors to pin on him.

  34. "And many of those risk-takers produce the bounty we all enjoy.  The rest, however, was up to me."

    Both those statements are outside the Christian faith, so I'll have to reject them, and we'll have to leave it at that.

  35.  I do not need to speak for qb, but I consider the current POTUS to be the worst in my lifetime.  I have not read any Ayn Rand, btw.  I do not feel self-important -- on the contrary -- I feel helpless and powerless before a POTUS who sees himself completely above the rule of law. 

    I am watching the same speeches that qb watches, and the lack of empathy and understanding in this POTUS is, in a word, breathtaking.  He holds his subjects in complete derision.  So yes, I suppose I am a bit bitter. 

    Never have I seen before a man in such a powerful position so utterly bent on class warfare as is this man.  Of course I wonder why, given his own plethora of advantages.  A man of the one-percent, able to demonize the other ninety-nine percent, all the while making it appear just the opposite.  That IS a gift.

  36. "the pay to which they agreed when they offered their work services"

    When the rich offer you only 30 hours of work per week at $7.25 per hour, then your "agreement" to work for that wage is driven more by an unwillingness to be a pusher or a whore than by any genuine consent on your part.  I know of libertarians who claim that such agreement is consent as long as no gun to the head is involved, but that attitude sounds more to me like korban than Jesus.

    Maybe you're ignorant of reality, but it comes across as a profound lack of empathy.

  37. Great post, Sam, and straight to the heart of the matter. We love to bandy about terms like "the poor" and "the 1%" in our personal political contexts, no matter which side of the aisle we sit upon. Which percentile do I land in? Well it depends upon to whom you would compare my income. I'm certainly a 1%er to the vast majority of people in the world, but I struggle to keep my head within the lower middle class in the USA. We wish to make taxation a religious matter? Crafty and disingenuous indeed, Dr. Beck. Simply a matter of more Mad Hatter-ish wordplay ("words mean what I want them to mean") Those evil Bush-era tax cuts for the rich that absolutely must be abolished? Yes, indeed, lets get rid of them completely. Just conveniently ignore the fact that I was making $9.00/hr when that first one kicked in, and all of a sudden, I had $50 more in my paycheck per week. Yes, that evil rich person that was me then working in the sun all day long needs to be penalized for my fiduciary lasciviousness. 

    Ooooohhhh, the bad thing now is that I've become a complete financial debaucher on my $15 per hour, being available at the drop of a hat 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and still working out in the sun. I guess not being able to get uninterrupted sleep is just part of the price I should pay to help "the poor" for those who wish to jam their religious beliefs into the public and political reality.  But hey, my 21k annual take home pay makes me a rich man, according to the people that wish to politicize religion. The fact that I already give to truly needy people should just be ignored, I obviously need to give some more... oh, yeah, that would put me into the category of being needy. 

    But, hey, creating some more divisions in the body of Christ than already exist seems to be an ok thing in some people's book. Not mine, though. 

    If it is necessary for people on either side of the political debate to use the church to further any political agenda, then the church is a complete and abject failure for people on both sides. You want to make the church, the body of Christ, a true force of God's love in the world? Then quit fracturing it with politics and make each and every congregation a solution to all of the problems faced locally, and then globally. Anything else is nothing more than typical secular politics hiding behind a facade of false religion. I'm pretty darned sure the Bible instructed each of us individually to address the problems we see in the world. We give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God, what is God's. I still haven't seen anyone show me where the Bible say that we compel Caesar to give what is his to God.

  38. Several are sure of pro-Democratic machinations behind your post, sure of implicit calls for certain regimes of taxation.  Maybe the Merton quote describes what rules your decision for today's content.  Let's speak some hope to each other in the face of rulers who use people up and throw them away.  In some small way, let's guard the divine humanity of the used.

  39. I am astounded by how much of a flashpoint this post has been. I would like to extend Richard's reading to the top 20% (which I assume includes us all as we have access to computers and rooves over our heads), but we cannot escape the indictment contained in James. If we feel judged and condemned it is the Word which convicts us and not Richard.

  40. It's an election year. Temperatures are running high. The fever should pass.
    For my part, I feel very much indicted by James and think what he has to say here is very relevant to late-modern capitalism. What broke in 2007 hasn't been fixed.

  41. When I read and wrote earlier today, I hadn't heard that the Romney campaign had latched on to the very distortion of the U.S. president that I supposed others were reacting to: a willful, malicious misreading of what Obama said.  (I linked to it earlier)

    Now, I, unlike most Americans and certainly unlike most Democrats, believe that President Barack Obama is a murderer.  He's probably no worse a murderer than John McCain would've been in his place, and he probably compares well to past presidents if you're just counting bodies.  He uses the wealth of the U.S. to murder inconvenient foreigners, so I think he falls under the condemnation of James or some other passage of scripture as much as the Koch brothers or Don Blankenship or Kris Jenner.

    Having said that, I hope I can beg some leeway to speak truth about Romney.

    Doesn't Romney's embrace of this lie tell you what base things the rich will do to preserve their wealth?  Unless you want to pitch it as a lie for our own good, you've got to face the fact that he hopes to profit from his belief that you're stupid or not paying much attention.

    He freaking _hates_ you.

    The thing is, James actually has to explicitly *tell* his readers that that it's the rich who are screwing them, so it's little surprise that people don't see it easily today either.  Empire always tries to convince just enough people that it's the best horse running.

    Now let's go pound the pavement, get out the vote, and re-elect someone who will lie to us with more subtlety than this.

  42. Swimming upstream... I have a slightly different take on this. I think James' comment is an example of what he was getting at in
    2:18 - Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

    I think in James' day, as well as ours, the rich talked the good talk about being blessed and righteous and holy--i.e. their "faith"--but their "works" betrayed their alliances. How they used their wealth and treated others showed their "true" faith.

    I think he's exactly right... it does no good to go on about what you believe if how you live day to day shows something different. I've decided to no longer talk about and declare what I believe, but rather let my actions tell others what I believe.

    Not so easy, whether 1%-er or 99%-er.

  43. I am truly blown away by the political vitriol against the president, especially by Christian people. I try to keep up with what's going on as much as anybody else, and I just don't see anything that justifies that kind of bitter negativity.  I see a man of calm sincerity who is doing the best he knows how in a very difficult time.  And I always wonder if those who are so critical are loving him, blessing him and praying for him as Jesus specifically told us to do for our enemies, as somehow he has apparently become to some of us. How different the political landscape might be if we took that injunction seriously.

  44. Let us be honest.  With all due respect, professor, as of the end of this day, each and every citizen of the USA owes $181,300.00 to our children and our grandchildren.  I do not have that kind of money.  Do you?

    We are fiscally bankrupt as a country.  And that started before 2007.  It tends to make "how we feel" about James' words not so relevant after all.

  45. I have also been feeling an increased awareness of the relevance of this indictment which is so bluntly articulated by James.  I am in an ongoing state of contemplation as to what my personal response should be.  

  46. I've come to this a day late, and pardon the pun, a dollar short...but hey you all, just go to the web site cited in the graphic and play around with the data.  I choose U.S. Germany, U.K, Japan for example and choose the same info but from 1874 (the earliest, not all countries are available) to compare.  You will find it interesting. Add China (notice that oppressive countries are missing).  You will notice that at 10% income shares, the graphs increase quite a bit for a lot of countries and some decrease a bit.  One country leads consistently since 1985.  Guess who.  Guess who is catching up and actually led said first country.  
      Riches come and go, but God remains. 

  47. Thank you, coachsusan, for your comment.
    As an expat I have been increasingly concerned at the tones of hatred from the
    Christian community we see coming from the US as well as overt politicization
    seemingly driving a divisive wedge between believers. From outside America’s
    borders looking in, the perspective is very different. What is especially
    alarming to those of us not living in America (and not living amongst an
    enclave of American expats, missionaries, etc.) is that so many American
    Christians appear to have more nationalistic fervour and expectations from/for their
    government and politicians than for the spiritual development of their
    communities of faith. 


    From our perch nationalism has and can be
    a scary place especially when carried to extremes, in both tone of dialogue
    and action. Sadly this post was bait for letting the hatred and negativity rise to the occasion. And the poor remain...

  48. Holy Freakin' Cow! This is why I don't watch / read / listen to the news anymore. This is why I don't listen to talk radio anymore. This is why I don't watch / read / listen to political pundits or talking heads anymore. In the 5 or so years since I ended my addiction to politics by going cold-turkey an interesting thing has happened. I find that when I read comments like the ones here I often can't tell which political camp they are coming from. I just hear and feel a lot of heightened emotions, a lot of near-panic, a lot of breathless urgency. What I also see is that nearly everyone commenting is doing so with good underlying intentions. I very much doubt that anyone making comments here is evil or sinister or even uncaring and thoughtless. Everyone is quite sincere in their beliefs that their particular viewpoint is the best, the most sensible and probably the most godly. Quite a lot like theology when you think about it. Is Mark Driscoll callous and uncaring, is Marcus Borg the Antichrist? Probably not in either case, although those in their respective camps probably would think that about the other.

    Unfortunately we get a lot of life from the "rightness" of our beliefs and our affiliations. Let someone question them and we can get quite nasty. Do you realize that, whatever political or theological camp you come from, you have been reconciled to God by Christ? Do you realize what that means? I suppose it means a lot of things, but one thing it means is that the way of Christ must somehow go beyond religion and politics. I have a feeling that the way of Christ would look like utter foolishness to any side of the political aisle. Maybe we could learn something from the Anabaptist's about the relationship of Christ followers to "the state". I know that no single group has ever gotten everything right, and they are/were certainly no exception. But I think there is something there to be learned from.

  49. You can do your own research, thank you. 

    Look for links to the unlawful attempt to block a private corporation (Boeing) from building a construction plant in SC, the end-running around Congress to cease construction at Yucca Mountain and the Keystone pipeline, the wave of a magic wand to make "legal" people who broke laws here by bypassing our immigration laws, and the "official" DOJ policy not to prosecute black-on-white crimes.

    You need to watch more of his speeches, and then compare them to reality.

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