Category Archives: Government

Clouds of dust over a Super Bowl ad

whites_onlyWhen I see narrow-minded bigotry, I think of signs like this that presided over a shameful period in US history. I heard some of my own family members who agreed with that sentiment back in the 70s. It embarrassed me deeply. I was ashamed to hear people I love saying such hateful things.

What a surprise to see similar sentiments rise up over something as simple as a Super Bowl Coca-Cola commercial.

The song was “Oh Beautiful,” and it is distinctly American. The words, penned by Katherine Lee Bates as she sat atop Pikes Peak looking over the plains of Colorado, praise the beauty of our country. The song was sung during the Super Bowl commercial in several different languages. The meaning is the same regardless of the language used to sing it: “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple-mountain majesties above the fruited plain. America, America, God shed His grace on thee! And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!”

We memorized that song in school, at Katherine Lee Bates Elementary in Colorado Springs, at the foot of Pikes Peak. It held special meaning for me then, and it still does today. It is uniquely American and speaks, interestingly, of American exceptionalism. The rest of the verses are included below.

Why are we arguing over the language used to sing those specific thoughts and ideas? The song praises America for its bountiful beauty–and, remember, for God’s grace on such a country! How beautiful can that be? (Don’t go all first-world on me, folks. Just saying, don’t try using your English-only argument about this song. Regardless of the language used, it still praises America!)

Social media is lit up with ugly comments on both sides about this commercial. Let’s take a step back and think. While one person on social media blasted that “The national anthem should be sung in English” (excuse me, but that wasn’t the national anthem anyway), others are taking Coca-Cola to task for injecting race issues into the Super Bowl.

Seriously. Take a breath.

Once you step foot on American soil, it does not mean you must drop your original language and never speak it again. Don’t get me wrong–I am conservative and want strong border enforcement and tough immigration laws. That’s not the issue here. The reactions to that Coca-Cola ad, though, did verge on bigotry, when people protested that the song should only be sung in English.

How petty and simplistic.

I believe the point of the commercial was to celebrate the mix of people and cultures we have in this country. Aren’t we the melting pot? What other country, when its athletes are marching in at the beginning of each Olympics, has such a mix of ethnicity among its team members? Isn’t that great?

And don’t forget that the song, sung during the Super Bowl, dared to sing that “God shed His grace on thee,” America. How bold, to perpetuate the idea that God is actively blessing people. Does He only shed His grace on people who speak English? (Yeah, that sounds ridiculous to me, too.)

So let’s take a deep breath and consider that while we do live in America, we are a rich mixture of ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Consider that we do indeed live in a beautiful country “from sea to shining sea,” and consider that regardless of the language in which we sing it, that truth remains the same.

Reject bigotry of all kinds. Challenge one another to think more deeply about the media messages out there. This little dust-up was misguided and narrow-minded. There are so many other things to get all riled up about. (Like the fact that I just ended that sentence with two dangling prepositions).

Here is the rest of the song. Pay attention to the words; they are distinctly American, and they also boldly honor God.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.

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Engage the culture: study the news

9-11On 9/11 all of America watched with a mixture of horror, outrage, and deep sadness the events that unfolded. My husband was stuck in another city on a business trip and could not get home because all flights were cancelled. We were just glad to be able to talk to one another on the phone, all of us safely on the ground on that dreadful day.

That evening I took the children to a restaurant so they could order whatever they wanted and we could talk together. “Are we at war?” “Who would do this to us?” “How many people were in those buildings?” “Are we safe here?” The questions rose up hard and fast, and they looked to me for answers. I had none, and no one else did that evening. We watched with rapt attention as President Bush addressed the nation. As much as we could, we kept up with the events that unfolded.

Suddenly my children were tuned in to world events like never before. We read what we could find, watched the news, and discussed it whenever we could, while driving in the car or sitting at the dinner table. We all became much more conscious of the world around us.

Sadly, I notice how little attention many families pay to what goes on in the world–especially homeschool families.  Some have no TV. Many do not read the paper or news magazines nor surf the web for news. How do I know this? I have talked with many homeschool families over the years and have found that they avoid world news.DADREADINGSON

I will not attempt to argue about the reasons that many families avoid the news–the reasons vary. However, I do take issue with the fact that Christian families–and particularly homeschooling Christian families–do not read about or watch the events that unfold around them.

When the culture begins to shift and ideas start to clash, who wins? When there is a power vacuum, what fills the void? The answers are obvious: the strongest power fills the void and overcomes the weakest. How will Christians react when they do not know what’s going on in the world? Can they afford to continue hiding away from events? Can they ever hope to shape the culture if they are not engaged in it?

The reasons we study history are clear: we need to see what men and ideas have shaped events. We learn what philosophies have impacted the movements and evolutions around the globe. Yet we stop our studies when it comes to what’s going on today?

Perceptive students will read the philosophers and historians who describe the “isms”–the ideas (like communism, socialism, feminism, existentialism, nihilism, etc.) that have shifted and changed events. They study Darwin, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, and others whose works declared (or implied) that God is dead. These same students learn about the rise of socialism and the ideas that gave rise to communism.

And yet–contrary to logic–these same students have no idea of what is going on in their world today. Hello! Those astute students and their families could tie a beautiful bow on their biblical worldview studies simply by connecting the philosophies of the past with what they see in the world today! Those issues of ObamaCare, of “spreading the wealth around,” of Common Core implementation, or Progressivism–they all come from ideas promulgated centuries ago.

I have witnessed the effects of the lack of knowledge of current events in the classrooms in which I taught. Students who mixed their study of history and philosophy with the careful observation of current events were much better able to carry on a lively discussion, melding the two beautifully and noting how events of many decades ago have come full circle back into society and government today–just with different labels. Those who do not watch TV or read the news cannot participate so easily.

A part of one verse from the Bible is often quoted by Christians who urge their brothers and sisters to study the world around them: “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32). The greater context of this passage is a listing of men who came over to David’s side to battle and defeat King Saul. Every generation needs men and women such as Issachar: people who know the times, who astutely observe what’s going on around them and who can lend their wisdom to the decision-makers and the leaders in this world.

Charles Martel watched the culture and the events around him, in the early Middle Ages, the 8th century AD. He saw an evil influence marching his way. Islamic invaders were spreading across Western Europe, conquering territories and threatening the Christian world. Martel rallied his forces and stood fast, stopping the invasion and (in a simplistic nutshell) keeping Western Europe from becoming Islamic.

bonhoeffer2Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Germany, noted what was going on in his world. He saw the evil of Hitler’s reign, saw Jews being rounded up and sent to concentration camps, saw Hitler’s quest for a master race that would conquer the world. He went to America in 1939 but regretted having left his homeland. He wrote,

“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.” (Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Eine Biographie, p736)

He returned to Germany and sided with those who tried to defeat Hitler. He was imprisoned and hanged just days before Germany was defeated.

Sticking your heads in the sand–not watching current events unfold–leaves you vulnerable. (It also leaves your hind end sticking up to get wallopped.) Christians, start becoming students of history AND of current events!

Does your child need to see everything that goes on in the news? Of course not–that’s not what I am arguing. However, as he gets older, he needs to be able to handle the reality of the world in which he is living. Have you protected him from the world by isolating him from current events? No–you have left him unable to engage the culture.

Christian parents, raise your children to be men and women of Issachar. Teach them (or find people who will teach from their fount of wisdom) how to connect the ideas and movements of history to what goes on today. Talk with them about the truth, and about where truth is sadly lacking. Help them and watch them form opinions about events. Sit with them at dinner, walk with them, pray with them, and show them how they can be shapers and engagers of the culture, rather than ostriches who hide their heads and leave their backsides vulnerable.

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Read my lips…period. The use of the emphatic in rhetoric

Sometimes speakers (in politics, religion, and other public venues) forget the power of their words to move an audience. Sometimes they capitalize on it. Words strung together to project a thought or an idea–they have meaning. Words have permanence. And words, misused or abused, will sometimes swing right back around and smack the speaker in the mouth. Words have meaning.

A few years ago George HW Bush made a promise: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” When shortly thereafter he raised taxes, his recorded words proved that he had not carried out his pledge. That broken promise effectively lost his chance for reelection. How do we know it was a promise? He used the emphatic: Read my lips. He didn’t need to say “I promise you.” His emphatic rhetoric, “Read my lips,” was his vow. And the country knew he had broken his promise.

clintonEmphatic rhetoric can take place not just with words but also with physical gestures. Bill Clinton pointed at and looked directly into the cameras, and jabbed his finger with every sentence: “I did not. Have sexual relations. With that woman.” His physical gestures, along with the emphasis he made as he spoke (including the fact that he effectively looked us in the eye), implied a promise or a vow, almost daring the reporters to prove him wrong. As the world knows, he had lied to the American people, and he was impeached not long afterward. He lost credibility, and he is now a joke among late night TV hosts. His reputation is forever tarnished.

Richard Nixon, like Clinton, looked into the cameras and made his famous avowal: “Let me be perfectly clear.” He averred that he was not a crook. As the world found out, Nixon was up to his eyeballs in the Watergate scandal. He left  the office of the president shortly thereafter. He too is a byword; his name will forever be associated with the scandal he launched.nixon-gun-control.jpeg1-1280x960

Promises are made with the use of the emphatic, and they can be words alone, or words and gestures together. We as the audience understand the emphatic. We remember it. We hold the speakers accountable to it.

This is why President Barack Obama has found himself in such hot water. He used the emphatic, time and time again (one news outlet counted 26 different speeches), to promise that if Americans like their current health insurance plan and liked their doctor, “you can keep them. Period.”

The use of the emphatic “period” is what has ensnared him. He cannot get away from it. The “period” was his promise. His audiences saw it as his pledge to them, and they held him to it. Upon finding out that they indeed could not keep their plans or their doctors, Americans registered their outrage. The president’s reputation, and his opinion polls, have been on a downward spiral since. Not only did he break his promise, but documents are beginning to show that he knew this was a broken promise a couple of years before his health care law was launched in October of 2013. Yet he continued to repeat the pledge time and again.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this emphatic promise was a mistake, that he misspoke. Presidents do not often make impromptu claims or commitments, and certainly not 26 times in a space of three or four years. Whether his supporters want to agree or not, he made a pledge–a promise–using the language of the emphatic, and he cannot excuse it away. He also cannot, as he tried in the weeks afterward, “unspeak” his promise, or re-interpret it. In an age of video recordings available to anyone, anytime, people can see the speaker and hear his words for themselves; the promise cannot be erased.

The use of the emphatic is intentional. The speaker does not have to say “I promise” for it to be understood as a guarantee. The speaker pledges his reputation on such an emphasis, and the audience reads it as a serious promise.

Jesus used the emphatic with his “verily, verily I say unto you,” also translated as “truly I say to you.” He effectively said to his hearers, “listen up: what I am about to say is true.” He did not prevaricate; he did not equivocate. What he said could be taken as true because he led up to it with such a pledge.

The fact remains that people will believe you if you use emphatic rhetoric, both in word and in gesture. God’s word reminds people to take words seriously. “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (ESV, James 5:12). In other words, understand that the implied promise of the emphatic word or gesture will be taken as truth, and you have staked your reputation on it.

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Moving away from mediocre: Read good books

Kids-sitting-on-booksThe only time I watched “19 Kids and Counting,” that TV show about the Duggars, I nearly choked. My daughter was interested in it, so I sat down with her and turned it on. They are a home school family, and they are Christians, and I will not criticize them too much for any of their choices, because–God bless them–they are doing what they believe God has called them to do, raising that big bunch of kids.

But (you knew there would be a “but, didn’t you?) this one episode had the family visiting a public elementary school and talking to kids about their big family. Essentially they had become ambassadors for homeschooling. A student asked one of the older girls about her favorite book of all time. She smiled and named something that made me groan. Honestly, I don’t remember which book she named, but it was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. When I had looked it up, I found it was some sort of Christian fiction novel that oozes romance, bonnets, and formulaic simplicity. (See my blog on those silly books here.) I had SO wanted to see someone stand up and tell the world that she was a well-read homeschooler by announcing that her favorite book of all time was something like Les Miserables or The Scarlet Letter. Instead, she showed the shallowness of so many parents who just don’t reach beyond their comfort level and challenge their children with excellent literature.

So why the groan? Need you ask? (Please read my post on the need for excellence in home education here.) Let’s think of good literature like we think about food for just a moment. And in many ways, we can do that because literature is food for the brain. Consider what happens when you consume a steady diet of junk food for very long.

fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

Not very attractive, is it? (Poor kids.) The same can be said about literature. Consuming mushy, senseless literature creates mushy thinking. There is no challenge for the mind to hang on to, no deep thinking to draw upon, no great themes to puzzle over. Mindless reading may be good for a day at the beach, but a steady diet of it will stultify the brain just like empty calories and high sugar content will create sluggish little bodies.

Challenge  your child to read great literature. I have all sorts of good suggestions here. Give your child the wonderful struggle of good over evil, the theme that every conscience dwells on daily. Give them deep subjects to wrestle with, reaching slightly over their age level once in a while. Read to them from the non-abridged versions of classic literature and let their little imaginations soar. Once they get accustomed to a diet of rich literature, that junky, formulaic romance will no longer hold any sway.

Just like a good diet, though, you certainly don’t want to slip into old habits of sugary, fatty nonsense. Fill your bookshelf with classics that fire the imagination. Start them early with great selections from AA Milne, Shel Silverstein, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lucy Maud Montgomery, CS Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and more. Keep them going on that once they can read on their own. When they’re older, tantalize them with JK Rowling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters. And once they have consumed all of this, they are ready for the really big guns: Victor Hugo, Ayn Rand, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Herman Melville, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Joseph Conrad, and more.

Why challenge their sweet little minds? Why not let them just read what they want? Because, left to their own devices, they will slink away to a corner and eat french fries and chocolate bars all day long. Left to their own devices, they will read Captain Underpants until their minds turn to fat, sweaty mush. Left to their own devices, they are suddenly age 17, wondering why they can’t pass their SAT tests.

Some moms have sweetly told me that while challenging their kids to work hard and well on their schoolwork is a good thing, raising them to be good people in a loving environment is much more important. I will always look those parents in the eye (figuratively, since I am speaking to them from the blogosphere) and remind them that one of the most loving things they can do is to teach their children hard work done well–a skill that will last them a lifetime, no matter what they do in their lives.

See related posts here and here.

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Great contemporary speech for Rhetoric

If you are studying or teaching Rhetoric, this speech will make for some great discussion. I encourage you to save this one. It is passionate, articulate, focused, and uses ethics and logic quite well. Every word is well placed and carefully considered. His final paragraph is wonderful.

This man is the president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He speaks before a House committee regarding a mandate under “Obamacare.”

Transcript of LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison’s
Feb. 16 Testimony before House Committee on Government and Oversight
Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously nonpartisan,
so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for
the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, “I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.”

We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home
ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system.

Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences.

Thank you.

President Harrison’s full transcript and video from the hearing, as well as a video message and previous statements to the church, can be found at www.lcms.org/hhsmandate.

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Learning from the past

A friend and her husband designed the house of their dreams, scouted out land and bought the best lot they could find, then secured contractors. After clearing the land, the builders poured concrete for the foundation.

Returning the next morning to check on the concrete, they were astonished to find it had disappeared! The newly-poured foundation was gone.

Two more cement trucks poured more concrete, and by the next day, all that had been freshly laid was gone as well. To many of us it seemed now would have been a good time to investigate the reason for the disappearing concrete, but the contractor insisted that if it was just a little sinkhole underneath, the three trucks of concrete had taken care of it.

A fourth truck arrived and poured its load. True to the history of the past few days, that cement too disappeared.

Now it was time, the contractor decided, to determine what had gone wrong. (And we all thought, “Oh, ya think so?”)

It seems that the surveyor and the contractor had missed the fact that this land sat atop a cavern that extended way back under the land. They had been pouring concrete into a fissure. Four truck loads had barely begun to fill that cavern.

Had they been more careful, the surveyors, and all the other professionals involved in determining the fitness of this land, would have saved our friends a lot of money and worry. If they had just learned from their past error and stopped after the first load, or maybe even the second, they would have changed tactics or even abandoned the pursuit and searched for new land.

I remembered this story when listening to US economic and political news recently. Pouring billions of dollars into a sinking economy did not shore it up. In fact, the sinkhole just keeps getting bigger. Yet the professional bureaucrats who determine how our money is being spent have decided to pour several billion more dollars into that sinkhole.

My story is an imperfect analogy, but perhaps it serves to show the futility of pursuing a different result but using the same tactics–throwing good money after bad. In essence, we’re told, all we need is more cement to pour down the same sinkhole. We didn’t get results before, but by doing the same things again we expect great results the next time. Wait–isn’t that the definition of insanity?

It’s ridiculous to think that our bureaucrats will fix it this time when they didn’t last time. It’s even more ridiculous that anyone in America, who has observed the government’s futile attempts, would believe that it will work this time. Not learning from the past, we insist on doing the same thing over and over again and expect the same results. Insanity.

The tactic of bailing out companies that probably should have been allowed to die a natural death so that other more healthy enterprises could rise from the ashes–this is not wisdom.

Nor is decrying the wealthy, sneeringly calling them “fat cats,” and then vacationing with them (golf, galas, and garden parties) on Martha’s Vineyard.

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Does government take away from the church?

Charity

Charity

Catholic professors, reports Fox News, have blasted Speaker of the House John Boehner for his proposed budget cuts. Those cuts may affect the elderly and poor in our midst, and these professors want to shame Boehner, a Catholic.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” they wrote. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress” (from Foxnews.com, 5/12/11).

This is a misapplication of scripture. Never once do the scriptures say that the government should step in. As a matter of fact, those apostles to whom the professors refer took steps to appoint people within the church to oversee the distribution of food and contributions to the poor, the orphans, and the widows. It was not the government, but the church.

Is it the job of the government to provide for the most vulnerable in our society?  Or is it the church’s job? Perhaps as we watch the debate over our government’s budget, it might be good to remind ourselves of the role of government.

The primary purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens, rights inherent to humans by virtue of the one who created them. We could list and discuss those rights, and that might be the aim of another blog. I don’t want to digress too far. However, when the government begins to see itself as a provider of charity toward the weak and vulnerable, it has overstepped its bounds. Once it goes there, it begins to see itself in the position of taking from one and giving to another.

When that happens–forcing “charitable” contributions upon its citizens–the government begins to infringe upon the role of the church.

Historically an enormous source of charitable giving has come from the Christian Church. Christians around the world have begun hospitals, schools, orphanages, relief organizations, and more. And that is one of the proper roles of the church.  Many times in the Bible, God directs his people to provide for the poor, the widow, and the orphan, to defend them in their distress. No one can argue that the Christian church has historically been in the position to do much good for those in need. They have not always done this perfectly, and other secular groups have also stepped in and done as much too.

Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted some forms of governmental care of the poor and needy during a very painful time in our history, the Great Depression. While his plans did help, his programs became part of the fabric of the way our government does business, and needs became entitlements. Entitlements grow to demands, and demands take from the more well-to-do in order to provide for more demands. Pretty soon people begin to talk about getting their “fair share,” which really means redistribution of wealth on a grand, government-sponsored scale.

When government begins to step in to provide for the poor and needy, we perceive that needs are being met. Then, because we are sinful people, prone to greed and self-gratification, we fold up our money and put it back into our pockets. We stop giving so much. The need grows, the government increases its relief to the poor, and the church steps back more. The cycle continues, and soon we have what we see today: a bloated government in the worst debt we have ever experienced, and a church that does nothing. Or perhaps, as we see from these Catholic professors, churches actually teach that it is the government’s job to support the poor.

Those Catholic professors have it completely wrong. It is not the government’s job to increase its giving to the poor. It is the church’s job to step in and help more. Just as our elected officials are complicit in the obscene state of this country’s budget, so is the church guilty for having forsaken its role in relieving the poor and suffering of this country.

The government, bloated and strangled by red tape, will never be able to relieve suffering like the church can. Christians respond to pleas for assistance out of their love for their Lord and gratitude for his unmerited grace. When such an outpour abounds, joy follows.

I have seen this firsthand. After Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, some of the first to rush in were Christians. Some of the longest to stay around have been Christians. While clearing out a house, the walls of which had been covered in mold from sitting in filthy water for two weeks, the owner wept to us. “Why are you doing this?” We answered that we are so grateful to our Lord that we just couldn’t stay away. 

He could not understand why the church was doing something he thought the government should do. Yet in its unweildy bulk, the government CAN’T touch individual lives like this. God directed his people to do this themselves.

Before you accuse me of hard-heartedness, know that I understand calamity and poverty, death and destruction. It happens, and people come to the aid of one another every day, as they are currently doing in the wake of Midwestern floods and Southern tornadoes, and a Japanese tsunami. But when the government begins to see itself as the kindly father who meets the needs of the poor and suffering, then the government has taken over an improper role, and the church has abandoned one of its roles.

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