Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Lesson on Proverbs 29:7 for Junior Teabaggers

Proverbs 29:7
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor:
but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

My beloved son came home yesterday extremely upset. He is in a World History class, and the teacher posed the question "Do the rich have an obligation to help the poor?" The overwhelming consensus of his classmates was NO.

What made it particularly disturbing to him was that so many of his classmates proclaim themselves devout Christians. They are all about the Jesus. In my immediate family, we believe Jesus was a great guy, but we are not churchgoers. We do not seek to convert anyone, and we sure as hell don't hold with the notion that if you don't believe certain things, you don't get into heaven. I know this bothers my mom, who has the view that if you simply believe Jesus died for your sins, you will be saved. We've gone round on this, because I think that if you're a Jesus follower, you also should at least try to live a good life and follow his teachings in order to get through the pearly gates. It seems way too easy to me that just being a believer lets you make the cut. She has a convoluted reasoning that if you believe, you will live such a life, as though it's inherently connected. Yet I know so many people who loudly proclaim themselves Christians whilst practicing extremely selfish, un-Jesus-like behaviors.

Let me quickly interject here that many Christians I know are extremely generous, loving people, who work their butts off to help others and do not begrudge (okay, they might prefer to decide how their money is allocated, but they don't complain very much) paying taxes. They contribute to causes which help the poor. Some, like our friend Isabel Jones, take it up a notch or two with ambitious endeavors to really make a difference.

My son's previously been informed by some of his more judgmental peers that he is going to hell because he's not a Christian. I am certain that many of the others privately think it, too, but at least they are classy enough not to say it to his face. Yet I'd wager that his heart is a whole lot bigger and kinder than theirs. He believes that individuals don't need enormous wealth, that they should share with the poor. After all, how many millions does one man require while others go hungry?

I found the approach he used to argue his point fascinating. He quoted scripture. I'm not familiar with the passage myself, but his father (raised in Catholic schools) knew it well.

Luke 3:11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” 12And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
Actually, my son may have just used the tunic and food line. I'm not 100% sure. But I think it's worth including the tax collector lines here because the class was talking about taxation, whether the government should tax the rich to help the poor. Count me and my son on the yes side. We've read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed; we don't believe the extreme differences of sumptuous quality of life for a relative few while others go without is acceptable.

I tried to cheer my son up and told him maybe some of the people who didn't speak up in his class felt the same way he did. He asked why they didn't speak up too. I told him I thought maybe they were intimated by the eloquence of his speech and didn't feel they had anything to add. He called bullshit on that. He was cheered that one girl did say similar things to what he had expressed. But he was really depressed about the rest of them, especially one of his friends, who twisted what he had said and spoke against it, claiming my son was extolling religious virtues and that he (the friend, a regular church-goer, BTW) was in favor of the separation of church and state. Geez, Louise. Talk about a fallacious argument. I can't decide if it's a straw man or a red herring, but either way, it stinks.

Of course, many of these schoolmates who are against the principle that the rich should help the poor also believe Obama is a Muslim. Oh, and a socialist/communist to boot. Stupid feckers. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they say.


Emm said...

Ouch! I don't envy your son for having to go through that and fo discovering that he is in the minority. (I'm wearing my been-there-done-that t-shirt). The only advise I can give to help him fight his disappointment in his peers is to have patience and realise now that his role is to educate those more ignorant than himself.

Patricia said...

Nicely said. I am sorry for those that would say these things to him. I am profusely sorry for such words. Those words do not demonstrate love. In addition, over 2000 scriptures in the Bible address giving to the poor. Do not ignore the poor, on and on. Compare that with the other issues (and scriptures) many Christians bring to the surface and hang their hat on. We each come with beliefs. Who gets into heaven? If we believe in heaven and hell I suppose we all have to work that out with our maker huh? I just hope the way I live and believe get me a ticket through the gates:) Thanks Holly for sharing your important words.

yogurt said...

I love it when right wing jesus-saves rhetoric is called to the mat. Your comic illustrations are the best. And your son? He gives me hope.

Stu said...

You said "teabaggers", snicker...

I do believe that we do good because we will get into heaven, not do good things to get into heaven. Becasue I am blessed, I should bless others however I can. I don't bless others to be blessed.

Just like I hope my kids do nice things for me because they are loved, not to earn my love.


Fantastic Forrest said...

Emm, Patricia, yogurt and Stu: Thanks for your comments. I love you guys. I feel very blessed indeed to have such loving friends. Your words and actions make for a heaven on earth. XO

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I agree with Stu; one of my favorite sayings that was bouncing around the church for a while was 'blessed to be a blessing'.

Unfortunately, many teens going to youth group activities just don't pick up the nuances of service.

It breaks my heart.

Stefanie said...

This is a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing your son's struggles (and triumphs). We need more teens like yours to stand up in our schools today.

lisleman said...

"...She has a convoluted reasoning that if you believe..."
One day after reading some Richard Feynman (yeah the physics guy) and discussion with a co-worker, I came to the conclusion that logic and reasoning are not part of nor are they needed in faith based thinking. Religion doesn't push the why question. It does push the "just believe" idea. My engineering co-worker told me that questioning too much will lead you astray. I'm still questioning everything.

-- change of subject --
I suspected you would post some views on the WI teacher situation. Interested to hear your take on it.

Miss Healthypants said...

Stupid feckers, indeed! I would be really ticked if I were your son, too. Hell, I'm ticked about it, and I don't even know you or your son! :)

Seriously...sometimes I weep for humanity and for our future.

Francis Hunt said...

It is, of course, much easier to keep your mind closed and subscribe to teachings which will always tell you who's right (your group) and who's wrong (the others).

It's also very difficult as a teenager to stand against "in"-groups, particularly when you're questioning their values. Your son sounds great!

In the end, I think, we have to try to teach our children that life is about freedom and responsibility - that these two values are but different sides of the same coin, and that they often mean that the answers to things aren't tidy and clear-cut.

I'm glad to have found your blog!