A man I love and appreciate recently emailed me admitting he had already voted with his absentee ballot. This man is a strong evangelical Christian. He was strong enough in his personal faith that he once considered entering church ministry. Later, he determined that God called him to the teaching profession, which he served as a divine calling. Now retired, after serving competently and admirably as an educator, he continues to serve through Christian counseling.
I know him well enough to know he is anything but an atheist, a socialist, or less than a thoughtful thinker. He came up the hard way. He got his education without many of the benefits many enjoy today. His life models personal commitment, impeccable integrity, and a devout faith in God. Still, he dares break with those narrow thinkers of the Christian Right, who devote legalistic attention to a narrow niche of hot button ethical issues with which they politically divide people, but overlook many other social practices condemned in the bible.
Maybe, he told me, “our country will do the right thing and elect Obama for President, and "redistribute" the wealth! Of course, I understood what he was saying. He was repeating (tongue in cheek) something that Barack Obama said, something that Sarah Palin and John McCain have consistently warped and twisted into anything but what Obama really meant.
He obviously did not mean Russian Communism/socialism. That‘s where equality means throwing the lion and the lamb both into the same cage to coexist. He knew that in such circumstances the lion comes out the [only] survivor 100% of the time. Thoughtful people, that are not out to intentionally slash and burn, understand that without referees, regulations, and game rules like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Wall Street Bear comes out of his cage of citizenship the winner every time.
The bible does talk about redistributing the wealth. In using the term you can mock and demean it, or you can understand my friend when he says “That is what is needed now.”
Commenting further, he talked about how others respond to him when he says “My Bible says we should be concerned about the poor and the down trodden.” He finds it puzzling and “amazing how when I say that, many of my Christian friends only hear, "take from me as a hard worker, and give to some lazy person".
I find such answers inexcusably lazy thinking and unconscionable behavior, at least for Christ followers. From the prophets of old, to the coming of Jesus, clear declarations of social accountability have guided people of faith. Amos long ago wrote, Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” -- skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.
Concludes the Prophet, The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done . . . they will fall, never to rise again” (Amos 8:4-7, 14). What has that to do with America and the Presidential Election this Tuesday?
If you think it does not correlate, then consider this recently revealed bit of statistic that reports this current year “2008 is the second 'gilded age' in 100 years.” That term “gilded age is defined simply as a time “where the top 5% own more money than all the other 95% put together.” That was what we had “in our country back in 1928” a year after my birth.
Those were the years of the Great Depression and Hoover Beef, when the Barons of Wall Street owned America, they thought, and arrogant financers controlled the market place, buying and selling unprotected laborers for the least possible amount, when men like my father--lifelong Republican that he was--humbly accepted employment under the New Deal of FDR.
Those were extreme times. I hope we never face them again. Still, in view of the social devastation in which we find ourselves, I am not surprised when I learn that I now live in the second gilded age. When 5% own more money than all the other 95%, it is time to reestablish the checks and balances, or else go back to pre-colonial days and once more submit to the monarchial whims of wealthy King George.
I’m not interested in accumulating any great fortune on Wall Street. I am investing heavily in the Kingdom of God. And, I find it a great misfortune for the wealthiest nation in the world to have so many vulnerable people in America being ignored while the rich get richer and the poor struggle even to exist.
I need some hope. Some checks and balances would help. I believe Jesus would be pleased with that, whatever one’s political party may be.