Monday, September 23, 2013

The Poor--Facts and Opinions

The quote has been attributed to Patrick Moynihan. “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”  We’re living in a strange time—maybe it’s always been this way. But so many folk believe that opinions and facts are one and the same. Remember when TV first came out. People thought: If it was on TV it must be the truth. I guess we got jaundiced to all those words, words, words. Now—so many think if it is on the Internet it must be true. And every day there spews out craziness and madness that people take for truth. Hitler corralled a whole nation by telling a lie over and over again. Millions and millions of dollars are spent trying to make folk think the opinions they foist on us are truths.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” We’ve got an awful lot of folk—inside and outside the church—who drag around very heavy chains of mis-truths. Just because we think it does not make it true.

The photograph above I took in Barcelona. In the wonderful cathedral that Gaudi designed , as you walk through the door you can see this plaque. Among a multitude of words, words, words there in the center if you look closely you can see it. The word: Jesus. It stands out above all the others because pilgrims, I guess, touched the word as they moved into the cathedral.

Embedded in the tsunami of words that wash over us everyday there are kernels of truth. The wise ones among us swill look hard until we see it. Paul Krugman wrote in Monday morning’s New York Times of some of the sad mis-truth—or downright lies—told about the poor in this country. Republicans are hell-bent on whittling down the food stamp program. We’ve heard all their whines about people in Cadillacs driving up to the Grocery store and pulling out their food stamps. We’ve also been told of all the sorry people who could work who just enjoy living off the pittance the government provides. Paul Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee says the food stamp program is a safety net for those who do not need it. He says this safety net is a “hammock that lulls able-bodied people to live lives of dependency and complacency.”

Krugman challenges his opinions with solid facts.

  • The average food stamp benefits for a day are $4.45.
  • 2/3rds of the food stamp recipients are children, the elderly and the disabled.
  • The Nutrition program in schools for the poor help make them better students.

Churches of all places ought to be standing up for the truth that if there are people in real need—this is one of the tasks of the government. I know, I know so many say that we ought to leave all this helping to the churches. Having served the church many places and many times—I know the generosity that takes place in church after church. But—we cannot take on the poor—there are too many. Yet—on Sundays people ought to squirm just a little bit as they are told how the Lord Jesus reached out to those in need. "Isasmuch as we do it unto the least of these" has not changed. Neither has: "Inasmuch as you did it not unto the least of these..." Among the multitude of words we still need to touch that word, Jesus embedded in the heart of life. This understanding could alter the way we see many things. The facts remain. We live in a very hard time. Jobs are few in number. Many are desperate. 25 million have no health care.What they need is a helping hand and not a guilt trip because of the hard place they are in. Bill Coffin was right when he said: “Hell is truth seen too late.”

                   --by Roger Lovette,

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