You could say that this blog post will be my sermon of the day. And it relates to the following: In the bible, in fact in what is referred to as the Tanakh, there is a scriptural command concerning the harvesting of the crops. That those who harvest the crops so God tells his chosen people through their priests and prophets should leave a percentage of the harvest for the poor so that they too can eat. You could say of such Godly liberalism that this becomes the foundation for food banks, the Salvation Army and even the Red Cross. That this “gleaning of the fields” becomes morally proper charitable donations when people face catastrophe, tragedy or chronic poverty. But I also regard this biblically required humanitarian concern to go in wide measure beyond providing food for the poor. If people did not choose to donate “some of their harvest” to those in need, why would we assume that they will demonstrate any consideration for other people?
Yes, without a doubt, most people will be very generous when they know there is a crying need for relief in the face of disaster. Absolutely no one faults this generosity in a time of need. However, when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell decided to go on the “700 Club” post 9/11/2001 and condemn the U.S. and the “sinners” who of course had visited the wrath of God by way of terrorist act onto the rest of the nation; (he did later apologize) the nation should have recognized right there the lack of a generous spirit in Falwell’s contempt for the rest of us. The biblically required and moral imperative generous spirit. It is after all, only the same Rev. Falwell who would parade around tiny coffins representing dead fetuses who “never had a chance for life.” But I am sure we all know why, the fetus as a sledge hammer against the SCOTUS decision in the 1970s Roe v Wade that legalized abortion. A sledge hammer against a legal medical practice. A sledge hammer against women obtaining abortions. A sledge hammer against political parties. Even moderates and (old) lefties within those parties. But, I guess we also found out post 9/11/2001 what the fellow really thought of his fellow man. The U.S. really deserved to get hit by acts of terrorism. Yes, he officially apologized; but if he had followed the bible he was certainly fond of beating; there would have been no cause to make such despicable statements that would afterwards require an apology.
Anti-abortionists and Pat Robertson post Katrina by 2005, God’s wrath against “sinning” New Orleans for abortions and homosexuality, even though the vast majority of deaths were among the poorest of people. The lack of humanitarian consideration because of the need to push political wedge issues instead; demonstrates in this instance a lack of biblically required generosity of spirit. Yes, Christian groups did enter the afflicted region along the east coast where two hurricanes battered the region, went to work, and started rebuilding. Absolutely no one faults them for that. However, the greater publicity went to political activists engaging in outright condemnation of people who surely had as much right to their lives after the storms were over as they did before those storms had arrived. But of course, where there lacks this generosity of spirit, then it becomes much easier to reduce these people to the less than human level. Because after all, fetuses are more important. Marriage between a man and a woman is more important. Even though much time and effort was donated to rebuilding lives in Louisiana in particular post Katrina, what continues to haunt such efforts is simple: the anti-abortionists merely gathered up all their harvest and refused to leave some behind for the poor to eat. To cite one example. And they are the most public representation of their faith.
When discussing “Anti-Semitism in America” by L. Dinnerstein, who had written quite an extensive work on the history of religious bigotry as it referenced Christians v those of the Jewish faith, I had sent in a discussion of highlights of this book—a history book—to the Coeur d’Alene Press late in March. Apparently, by the third of April 2010, Mike Patrick had published it as a “My Turn.” Well, the timing of a “My Turn” discussing religious bigotry close to Easter, couldn’t have been more apropos?!? As it was, a week later and letters were being published that showed how all hell could break loose. I was discussing a history book and literally being attacked as some kind of “atheist” bigot for daring to criticize the oh so superior “Christian faith” or being implored to “read the bible” which if you the readers note by now, I did, actually. And then onto a Mr. Paul Finman who may have indeed (as a Jew) been treated well by some good-hearted neighbors; but he would still have to ignore Shaun Winkler’s public pronouncement of being a neo-Nazi who opposes human rights on the claim that it is all communist. Well, given the fact that Dinnerstein, in his book, declared that his fellow Jews historically were heavily factored into any advancements in human rights (and were also called communists by the bigots at the time) that was simply Mr. Winkler reiterating historical behavior toward those not of his thinking or belief. You could just as easily say of Winkler that he had also gathered up all of his harvest and left nothing for the poor to eat.
Touching on briefly Dinnerstein’s interpretation of Social Darwinism, that those who got wealthy were of course among the “fittest” in the “survival of the fittest.” An argument right there, that Darwin (not evolutionary theory but rather political theory) could be used as an excuse to gather up all the harvest and leave nothing for the poor to eat. What happened afterwards, unionization of the work force, the New Deal, and other what are now called “socialist” advances. When the wealthy Social Darwinists did not care to uphold a biblical requirement, American labor and etc. simply turned to government and demanded their due.
Now to address the “TEA Party.” Gary Crooks “Smart Bombs” on 11 April 2010 (Spokesman-Review) addressed to an extent the dissatisfaction of this fringe movement. “The Inlander” for the week of 8 April 2010 to 14 April 2010 has presented this fringe movement with a lot more coverage. What strikes me as interesting, it wasn’t only or if you will always about health care reform. “Taxed Enough Already” did not wish to accept a bail out of homeowners as their first justification for “tea bagging” President Obama. Even as they also came up with other concerns about debt, (valid enough) but (yes there is a but) didn’t want to address this debt with “Taxed Enough Already” rallies. Or “big government” which apparently wasn’t an issue until gvt was placed in the hands of the Democrats. And finally “loss of freedom” through health care reform. There is an undercurrent behind this movement, its mob style rallies and how often these people shift from one extreme view to another. They have gathered up all of their harvest, and quite contrary to God’s wishes, have left nothing behind for the poor to eat. To point that out to them, and they fret about being “compelled” into something they don’t want to do. And the bible isn’t the first compulsion that we are addressing here?
Greed and selfishness being recognized by their churches as sin, can not be justified. A lack of humanitarian concern, charitable impulse or hospitality, can not be called moral. If all that the “TEA Party” is doing is what they can possibly get for themselves out of all of this, then like all other factions addressed, they aren’t living up to any sort of moral standard.