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Friday, August 17, 2007

Learn to do well... or else

[originally posted in comments at Marshall Art's]


We SHOULD be protecting our borders, our ports, our nuclear facilities. We should take a more isolationist stance in the world. Our borders ARE too wide open, not just in terms of defense, but in terms of culture and decadence. America, once a proud virtuous woman on a church pew, is now little better than a $20 whore on a street corner. Oh, how the virtuous have fallen!

WHEN (not "If") we are attacked again, we WILL have ourselves to blame. Because America has become fat, lazy, hedonistic, perverted, and dare I say it? Dangerous. Not simply to the world, but to herself!

"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind"
Hosea 8:7

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Galatians 6:7


Go ahead, Hypocrites! Point your fingers and wag your heads at those who try to live virtuously and fall. Did you extend a hand and offer to help them up? Is there no stink of impropriety on you? Do you not also reek of lust, hatred, murder, avarice?

America is getting, and will continue to get, everything she deserves.


"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

Isaiah 1:16-20


...Or don't. Continue to live in filth if you wish. Do you enjoy the whoredoms the world offers? Do you take delight in such things? If emptiness is your promised land... Behold! You are already there.

But if you want something better...

Please reconsider God's plea in Isaiah 1:16-18

57 Comments:

Blogger Dan Trabue said...

By all means, let us learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD...

August 17, 2007 3:54 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Eric,

You risk the same dismissing and mockery that befell Jerry Falwell for suggesting the possibility that God withdrew His protection from us on 9/11 due to our national character. They, including many who call themselves believers, will wonder what pleasuring themselves could possibly have to do with being attacked. Surely, since they aren't hurting anyone in their self-gratification, God could not be concerned when there's so much poverty in the world! I think we've been asmonished enough to know that God cares only for the following:

1. That we don't hurt people.
2. That we don't steal their stuff.
3. And above all else, that we don't say we know anything at all about God's Will or Truth, because it's just so different for everybody!

August 18, 2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

"Gar cares only for the following..."

Your short list is certainly a part of it, but to my mind the ONLY thing God cares about, at present, is described in Luke 14:16-24, and summed up in Mark 16:15-16 and Acts 1:8 "...unto the uttermost parts of the earth."

If you are a Christian, God has called you to be a witness... to go into the highways and hedges and compel everyone to come to the marriage supper. If we are Christians, we are Disciples of Christ, and our mission is the same as was given the twelve. Jesus only has 12 Apostles, but he has millions of Disciples. If He has saved you, He has called you to be a witness for Him. Sit on your duff at your own peril! No, you won't lose what he as given you, but you will stand ashamed when you have to give account, TO HIM, for your inaction. And ask yourself this: Is one really saved, who has no desire to seek out and win the lost for Christ?

Charles H. Spurgeon said, "You who claim to love Christ yet have no desire to see the sinner saved; you are not saved yourself! Be sure of that!"

That, I believe, is the ONLY thing God really cares about at present. He is not willing that ANY perish.

What have we done today toward that purpose?

August 18, 2007 3:07 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

I don't disagree with you. I was being sarcastic and mocking those who most likely do. We have encountered in our blogging those who feel we should keep to ourselves both because they believe we can't know enough to preach apparently, and/or because everyone supposedly has their own truth. I don't hold with either opinion whatsoever. I believe there is much that has been made known to us and that those things are part of what needs to be imparted in order to truly hope to save anyone. Exactly what those "anyones" eventually believe is between them and God, but we'd be remiss if we didn't preach according to what WE believe.

August 18, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

As I have pointed out in the past, When Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel", He wasn't saying preach the Gospel to everyone except those in Government buildings and schools. He meant EVERYWHERE.

Those are the Christians who think Christianity should be left at the door of schools, and out of Government. The ones who interpret the first amendment to mean, freedom FROM religion, not OF religion.

August 18, 2007 6:19 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Man. Things must be reeeaaaall bad in south Alabama. The world is not on the verge of ending in central Oklahoma. Nor is the Church being persecuted. Nor is America in peril. You should move out here. :-)

And, by all means, we all should be extending the invitation to all. And those who trespass, or break the law, in doing so, should be ready to go to jail, or otherwise be punished. Paul himself is the example.

So, Mark, march right into, oh, say, the city hall where you live and get after it. Or go to the local mall. But don't act surprised if the cops ask you to leave city hall, or the mall calls the law to escort you out. What you seem to want is the law to be on your side. It is not. Nor should it be.

August 18, 2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

"Nor should it [the law] be."

Are you sure you want to stand on that? Do you think it pleases God that our laws, in many instances, prohibit the preaching of the Gospel in public?

August 18, 2007 8:04 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

If you mean a public place, as in a government-owned space, I absolutely do stand on it, in the name of freedom and in the Baptist tradition! The wall of separation of church and state is meant to protect the integrity of both.

NOTHING PROHIBITS THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL. But sometimes there are consequences for it. And sometimes the consequences themselves are the work of God, used according to God's purpose. Ask. Paul.

August 18, 2007 9:44 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Brother, quit lamenting the supposed loss of the country. Lament the shallowness of the Church! Put down your American flag and hoist up the Cross! The Cross of forgiveness, of giving, of Grace, of freedom, of the LORD. Set aside your "knowledge," your darked-glass understanding! Your remorse! I will join you in throwing ourselves before the Cross in humility, in surrender, in hope -- but in never EVER in the idolatry that is ANY mixing of Truth and temporal politics, including the MYTH that this country is a tool of the LORD -- any more than I am, or you are!

August 19, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

You and I, ER, get along fabulously when we shelve divisive politics. We even get on fine when we choose to set aside our faith and be civil to one another. And then you go and say something so incredibly and spiritually naive.

I wonder if you EVER sat in a church where the word of God was genuinely preached, as opposed to some cheap tin-horn feel-good 'gospel'... the kind that no one could possibly find offensive.

Picking apart that last sentence of yours this is what I see: You refuse to join me in the Idolatry... the Myth... of believing that either of us are tools of the LORD.

Believing that I am a tool for the LORD-- a Gospel spreader --is, to your mind, idolatry? A myth?

God hasn't used believers to spread the words of life to a dying world? America, by virtue of its isolation between two great oceans hasn't been used by God as a base from which missionaries could spread out across the globe witnessing to the truth of Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God? Working to fulfill the great commission?

Well what, pray tell, DO you believe? That God saves us then sets us aside, never to be used for His purpose? Surely you don't believe THAT! Why then would you state in print that believing we are used of God (tools in His hand) to further His purpose on this earth is the moral equivalence of Idolatry? That to believe we are used of God is to believe a myth, or fable?

In case you hadn't noticed, the Gospel of Jesus Christ IS offensive. We live behind enemy lines. We preach the Gospel message, on Satan's turf, that God loves everyone despite their sin. Real Christianity is offensive to the lost because it asks the lost to choose sides. How can you project yourself as spiritually enlightened while so-- seemingly --spiritually ignorant? Sorry, brother, but if you think it a myth to believe we are tools in the Maker's hand, that it is idolatry to believe such... I am genuinely shocked!

The Gospel is offensive. I'm sorry you're offended by my desire to wake a few people up... people who need to heed the Gospel and turn to Jesus, the ONLY remedy for this dying and diseased world.


"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

--1 Corinthians 1:18


What else are we to do, as Christians, if not allow our lives to be used by God to bring in a mighty harvest?

August 19, 2007 9:55 PM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

And for the record, I DO lament the shallowness of the church, as evidenced by my previous comment! The church is sick and doesn't even know it!!!

August 19, 2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger HillbillyBlogger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 20, 2007 10:25 AM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"Go ahead, Hypocrites! Point your fingers and wag your heads at those who try to live virtuously and fall."

EL

They're like a high-school clique', ain't they? Always trying to find fault in others to placate their own self-abhorrence.

"The Cross of forgiveness, of giving, of Grace, of freedom, of the LORD."

The Rev

Are you sure you even know what freedom Christ offers, ER?

Sin ain't free, pal.

August 20, 2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

You've misread me, EL, perhaps because I was unclear.

I said this country IS a tool of the Lord, but no more than I am, and you are.

You seem to think this country is a tool of the Lord regardless of whether its citizens are folllowers of the Lord or not. And you lament what you perceive as the downward spiral of the country, itself, as if a country, itself, could backslide. I don't, and that's the idea I meant to deride. I'm sorry I was unclear.

As for the rest of your claptrap --"I wonder if you EVER sat in a church where the word of God was genuinely preached .." -- just nip it. 'K?

Speaking of being unclear: Toadlet, what are you goin' on about now?

August 20, 2007 3:26 PM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

The Gospel is offensive. I'm sorry you're offended by my desire to wake a few people up... people who need to heed the Gospel and turn to Jesus...

Yes, it IS offensive. When we read Mary, Mother of Jesus, saying, "The poor you have lifted up but the rich you have sent away empty-handed," that would offend some.

Or when her son, James says, "Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries... Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter," that, too would be received very harshly by some.

Or when Jesus says of and to the religious:

"they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. But all their works they do to be seen by men... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation...woe to you! Woe to you! You fools! Hypocrites!"... when Jesus says all that, it was bound to upset some folk.

I'd just ask us to keep in mind whoh Jesus' targeted for his harsh language (the wealthy, the rich, the powerful) and who he approached with a softer, more loving angle (the poor, the marginalized, the "sinners" and outcasts).

I think our churches have a tendency to do the opposite. We tend to be more pharisaical in our adding laws upon laws for the people to obey and then, we they mess up, we're there to BLAST 'EM!!

With love, of course, because failing to blast them over their hideous, abominable behavior is not helping them. We got to tell them the good news that their sick, pathetic, cancerous-lifestyles are abhorrent to God, and how God really hates the way they live - it's so sickeningdisgusting, bleahhh! - because when people hear that sort of good news, they really love it...

Joking in that last paragraph, of course. I'm just suggesting we should remember the Jesus who came bearing good news to the poor, who cherished the "sinners," and came to lighten their burdens. Let's let Jesus and the prophets be our model for how and when to use our righteous anger (almost exclusively towards the rich, religious and powerful) and when to use the model of Loving Shepherd (almost exclusively to "sinners" and the least of these).

August 20, 2007 3:43 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Dan, I'm surprised that you would not understand what Jesus (and Mary, and James) meant when they used the term "rich".

They were speaking of those who allow wealth, or any material possessions become their God.

Do you really think it is literally impossible for a rich man to be Christian? When you enter heaven will you be so shocked by the number of rich people there that you will turn around and head for the other place?

Get off the rich, Dan. Money isn't the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is.

August 21, 2007 6:31 AM  
Blogger mom2 said...

It isn't just rich people that love money. As Mark said, it is the love of money that creates problems. Those who do not want to work for a living still love money, they just want it given to them.

August 21, 2007 8:48 AM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

And this lies at the heart of my disagreement with Dan, specifically-- His constant abuse of scripture regarding the 'evil rich'. Dan says this has nothing to do with his political views, claiming even to be more 'Green' than 'Democrat', and he gets away with it because of his faith, but his views on the 'evil rich' and 'war crimes' are born of 'Liberal' ideology more than any Christian philosophy. Were it Christian, his turn on the soap box would be decidedly different.

It is as Mark and Mom have said: The proscription is against those who exercise their wealth through the prism of avarice... greed. Not the possession of wealth itself. The rich young ruler went away sorrowful not because he was wealthy, but because he placed too much dependence on it... it was his god. The rich man who thought to tear down his barns to make bigger, didn't lose his life because he wanted to be a good steward by building larger and better to house his growing wealth, but because his soul chose to be satisfied in his wealth... as opposed to being satisfied in God. The Rich Man didn't fall asleep and in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment, because he was rich, but because he had the means by which he could have spared his brother Lazarus, but chose instead to despise him and allow him to suffer and die.

It is not wealth that is evil, but the love of wealth; above God and your fellow man.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
--Luke 10:27

Dan is almost on target when he says Jesus targeted his harshest language toward the wealthy, the rich, and the powerful, approaching with a softer, more loving 'angle' to the poor, the marginalized, the "sinners" and outcasts. But I think it's better described this way:

Jesus never condemned anyone who knew in their hearts they were sinners, and unworthy of God's gifts. His harsh language was always (in condemnation) directed toward those who felt they did not need a physician... Someone who could excise that lump of tumorous cancer called 'sin' from their hearts.

The woman at the well? He was kind to her because she knew what she was.

The Pharisees and Scribes? They believed they were righteous, and Jesus imparted his harshest criticism upon them.

Always kind, giving, and generous toward those who knew they needed forgiveness. Always condemning toward those who 'knew' they didn't.

August 21, 2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Eric said:

Dan says this has nothing to do with his political views, claiming even to be more 'Green' than 'Democrat', and he gets away with it because of his faith, but his views on the 'evil rich' and 'war crimes' are born of 'Liberal' ideology more than any Christian philosophy. Were it Christian, his turn on the soap box would be decidedly different.

Oh? What would it look like?

So you know, I come to my views on wealth, religion and war based on what the Bible says. Naught else. I hadn't read Marx, Gandhi, or other writers until after I'd read and re-read the Bible and found the path I'm on. I was influenced in my formative years exclusively by the Bible and conservative/traditional writers and teachers.

I don't really think you have the omniscience needed to say that this is not true.

As I've noted before, I came from conservative/traditional stock and believed all of that and especially believed what they taught me about taking the bible seriously and about following in Jesus' steps. It is THIS criteria that has led me to my belief system today.

For the record, I have never - zero times - used the term Evil Rich. I've never said that the Rich are always wrong. I've never said that it is impossible for the rich to get into heaven. I don't believe any of that and have not ever stated such. Ever.

What I HAVE done is quote the Bible where God repeatedly over and over again and again warns against the traps of wealth, warns against wealthy oppressors taking advantage of the poor. Where God repeatedly says we need to side with, join with, take up for the poor. Front to back, Genesis to Revelation.

If you have a problem with the many, many, many passages that deal with wealthy oppressors, take it up with God. I'm just quoting the Bible.

On the more agreeable side, you're right on, Mark, when you say that we ought not allow wealth, or any material possessions become our God. And, I'd add, we ought not let religion become our god. There is a trap in all of that and many people get tangled up in wealth and the lust for it. Many people even get tangled up in religion lifting their particular view of things to the place of god in their lives.

(Although I'd disagree that this is what James, Mary and Jesus were saying in their passages I quoted, in general, though, you are correct.)

And I agree with you, too, Eric, where you say another way to look at who Jesus was harsh with and who not was the condition of their hearts. The wealthy, religious, powerful, tend to not have as soft hearts as the oppressed and down and out. Pride cometh before a fall.

August 21, 2007 1:22 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Don't forget the disciple Matthew, who was a wealthy tax collector when Jesus called him to follow Him. And then there's Zacheus, also a wealthy man who's only wish was to see Jesus.

Then there was Jarius. Jarius was an official appointed by the Jewish elders to supervise the conduct of worship. This important and influential person threw himself down at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him, prostrating himself like a servant. Jarius had one daughter, who he dearly cherished. "My little daughter lies at the point of death, I pray come and lay your hands on her that she may be healed and she shall live."

The daughter of Jarius might as well be healed later, tomorrow or next week. Jesus had lingered as if it didn't matter. It was told to Jarius that the poor girl had already died and to not bother the Master any longer. When Jesus heard, He said to Jarius, "Be not afraid, only believe, and she shall be made whole." At this point Jesus turned away the crowd and only allowed Peter, James and John to follow him. The people in the house were weeping and wailing greatly. Jesus asked them, "Why make this ado and weep? The damsel is not dead but sleeps." They laughed Him to scorn and Jesus put them all out except the parents and the three disciples, Jesus then took the dead girl by the hand and said, "I say unto you arise." The spirit came back into the daughter of Jarius and she got up and walked to the amazement of her parents.

Jarius was not refused a blessing from Jesus because he was rich. He was blessed because he believed. It didn't matter that he was rich and/or important.

Protest all you want, Dan. It is obvious by your interpretation that you think the rich are evil simply because they have money.

Think on this for a while. Wealth is relative. Even more relative than truth or morality. Your heroes, John Kerry and John Edwards, are paupers when compared to Bill Gates. I am poor compared to almost everyone, but I do not disdain the rich. I admire them for their ability to make and keep wealth.

August 21, 2007 11:52 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

"The wealthy, religious, powerful, tend to not have as soft hearts as the oppressed and down and out."

This is complete and utter crap. You have no basis for this totally subjective and biased opinion. Just holding this opinion, Dan, shows your disdain for the wealthy. And I just wanna shriek whenever I hear anyone attach such holiness and reverence for the "oppressed and down and out." I've never known any wealthy, big mansion kinda people, so ALL the greedy, oppressive and hard-hearted people I've ever known were making less than 75K. Considering how people like you, Dan, talk about the wealthy few so negatively, one must assume most people aren't wealthy at all. This means, based none of the greedy, oppressive, hard-hearted people I've known were not, the simply HAS to be MORE greedy, oppressive and hard-hearted people amongst the majority who are not rich. In short, you're preaching to the wrong crowd.

August 22, 2007 1:43 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

My thoughts out raced my typing in that last one, but I think one can get the jist. If you wanna preach to a greedy, oppressive hard-hearted rich guy, Dan, you'll find plenty non-religious versions among the left, like Castro, Chavez, Hollywood people, most in the world of Rock, half the sports world, etc.

A recent book showed how religious conservatives are the most generous with their time and money. I don't believe the author spoke too much regarding level of income as having any great effect on that bottom line. Yep. You're preaching to the wrong crowd.

August 22, 2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Mark, since I haven't said and don't believe all wealthy people (I include myself in that category, by the way) are evil, then your comments don't really make much sense. I've said only what the Bible says: that wealth is a trap, that many times, wealth leads to oppression, to "unjust scales," to poor policy and poor decisions.

And Edwards and Kerry are not my heroes. My heroes are Jesus, King, Dorothy Day, Wendell Berry, my pastor and church-mates, the !Kung of Africa, the Amish, etc.

August 22, 2007 6:01 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, you make many incorrect assumptions about what I'm saying.

1. Right off the bat, I'll let you know that I think of myself as wealthy. I think of most of my friends as wealthy. If you can afford a computer, you're probably wealthy, too.
2. Most of us here are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world. Even the poorest of us.
3. Therefore, my repeating biblical warnings (and note: it IS biblical warnings and instructions I'm repeating - I'm not making this stuff up) for the "rich" are not directed towards the Gates, Kerrys and Bushes of the world anymore than they're directed towards me.
4. Therefore, I'm not disdainful towards myself, nor you, nor the Castros.
5. Instead, I'm merely repeating the warnings and instructions found within God's Word. We are a materialistic, pleasure-seeking society and it is our undoing - And when I say "our," I mean "Dan's, too." Just to be clear there - not to mention the harmful affect it has on the poor, as described in the Bible again and again and again.

And, while it's a slightly different topic, I'd point out that the "religious right's" so-called generosity in their giving takes into account the moneys they give to their church, which goes to support and nourish them, not to helping the poor (except for maybe 10% at the most generous churches).

Which there's nothing wrong with. I give to my church and a lot of that just goes to support my church instead of the poor or needy. But, I don't really think of that as "charitable giving" in the sense that I'm "selling my stuff and give it to the poor," as Jesus instructs.

Take away the amount of money they give to themselves at church and the religious right will no longer be the most generous group.

Studies also show, by the way, that the poor tend to give more (as a percentage) than wealthier folk do. Interesting, huh?

August 22, 2007 6:14 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Dan said:

Take away the amount of money they give to themselves at church and the religious right will no longer be the most generous group.

To be fair, let me state that this is my assumption. I haven't seen the studies to back this up. I HAVE read the studies that show where the religious right "gives more" to charitable organizations. I'm making the assumption that this includes churches.

It's always a possibility that I'm wrong. In this case, I don't think so.

August 22, 2007 6:18 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

The most important sentence in this thread, the one that should send us all to our knees in gratitude, or in shame, is the one that points out that everyone here, in all likelihood, is wealthy by global standards. Even if you're on a computer in a library, you're in a community rich enough to provide you with a computer in a library.

August 22, 2007 8:25 AM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

Two Things...

1) Dan's assumption that 'Charitable Organizations' includes churches (Tithing) is reaching. Big time. Some people tithe, but few tithe 10%. Some tithe more than 10%. But people tend to be generous to a fault, especially Christians. There are too many ministries serving in Africa and other undeveloped nations to account for American Christians being generous in terms of 'merely' tithing. Judging strictly by your words, you don't appear to have much faith in the religious right, which doesn't surprise me.


2) ER's most important sentence:
Agreed, and Amen. Which is why it angers me to no end when politicos in this country talk about the "Have-Nots" when these "Have-Nots" drive pimped-up rides, live in air-conditioned homes, own X-Box's and Playstations... and hold down jobs to support their lifestyles! (Speaking strictly of those who are NOT homeless and down and out.)

August 22, 2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

I was intending no slight to the Religious Right, who are generous in many ways in my experience. I was just doubting that they give substantially more to charitable causes than the religious left or just the population at large.

Clearly, they give more, according to the studies. I don't doubt that. I was just raising the suspicion that said giving includes their church giving, which is a different sort of charitable giving than giving to the starving in Africa.

My guess is that, if you factor out the church giving, that we'd find that charitable giving is roughly the same, left or right, with the poor giving a slightly larger percentage away than the wealthy (although, that might have to do with church giving, as well).

It was no intended slight towards the religious right, but rather a defense of the rest of us. For instance, I think I remember reading that churches (maybe Baptist churches specifically) average giving about 3% of their church income to missions giving. At our supposedly liberal church, we give something more like 10% as a church to missions sorts of giving.

I don't doubt the generosity of the Religious Right, I just doubt that they're significantly more generous than the rest of us. As noted, that is just a suspicion. It'd be interesting to look in to, though.

August 22, 2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Here's an interesting page with all sort of data, including:

In a year of recession and crisis, Americans gave a record $212 billion to charity in 2001. While this reflects a 0.5 percent increase over 2000, it is actually a 2.3 percent decrease when adjusted for inflation (Giving USA, 2002). Of this amount, $81 billion went to religious institutions, a 1.6 percent increase.

I wonder, do we even agree that there is a difference between giving money to a church to pay for its staff, building, maintenance and giving to an organization that is alleviating poverty, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, etc?

To me, when I give to my church - which is a great thing to do - it is for somewhat selfish motives, if you want to look at it that way. I'm paying so that I can have a place to worship and a pastor, among other things. These are things that benefit me.

That is, to me, a different sort of giving than actual poverty/hunger/etc relief giving. Are we in agreement on that point?

Just curious.

August 22, 2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

I find our current culture of 'professional' pastors, music directors, and such a disturbing trend. What do these men do when they're not preaching? Visiting their members? Nope. Not many members ever see the pastor at their front door, ESPECIALLY in churches like Joel Osteen's. Are they spending their time in prayer, study and contemplation? Nope, not judging by some of the sermons I hear. Are they visiting the sick in the hospitals and the inmates at the county jail? Nope, not like they could be with all that idle time on their hands.

Somehow, we've progressed to the point where it is acceptable that a pastor should be a paid employee of the church. What happened to 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ? Paul worked for his keep, as did the others who ministered in Asia Minor, Greece and Italy.

"...labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you"

Or what about 2 Thessalonians 3:8...

"Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you."

What of the verses that follow? Verses 3:9-11?

"Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies."

I understand times have changed, but I also know that too many pastors have too much idle time on their hands because they are PAID to do one thing... preach. And if they are paid to preach, they are beholden to the committee to preach according to what the committee will allow, or what the congregation will bear.

I do believe pastors should be honored for their service to the Lord and His sheep, even to the point of receiving some measure of support, but not to the level we see today.

TBN and INSP REALLY sicken me-- too much of their programing hours are given to men who neither know God, OR His word. One such man, who shall remain nameless, at 2 in the morning just the other night had the audacity to tell his listeners that Jesus was rich (monetarily speaking), and did not want any of his followers to be poor. That's right, send him your love offering and Jesus will reward you! 50$ will net you five-hundred. 100$ will get you a thousand! 1000$ will see your coffers overflow to the tune of ten-thousand dollars!

The Gospel has been severely watered down if not outright corrupted by the love of money.

August 22, 2007 12:55 PM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

What do these men [/women] do when they're not preaching? Visiting their members? Are they spending their time in prayer, study and contemplation?

Yes, to all of the above, if you're talking about my pastor, youth minister, children's minister and the folk at my church who sometimes preach.

August 22, 2007 1:11 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

I'm happy to say that my pastor does quite a bit beyond just preaching. He's involved in quite a bit of "services" in which one might expect a pastor to engage. We'd either fire him or pay him less if all he did was preach. Fortunately for us, he enjoys all phases of the gig and sees it as part of the job.

Back to the religious right being more generous...

I've heard him speak at length on a couple of radio shows, and he has a site with a general overview, but according to Arthur C. Brooks, whose book "Who Really Cares?" to which I alluded earlier, religious people give more than non-religious, and conservatives give more than liberals. It's true that the poor give more as a percentage of income, but should that be a shocker? It's just like the flat tax idea, in that 10% of a big pie will be a bigger piece of pie that 10% of a little pie. Actual dollars won't compare, and of course when you begin to think that another person SHOULD give more because of his larger income, you automatically have to slap yourself because it ain't your dough to speak on.

The same is the case when we hear of America not being as generous as other countries as a percentage. We're likely still giving more dollars, so they should bite it off and worry about becoming as wealthy as America.

I known in my church that we have separate collections for charity. We have a different benevolence every month where our church gives some bucks and in the pews are envelopes for that month's benevolence and people give more with those. We also have a "project" every year where we seek to raise a sum, usually $5000.00 by year's end. Last year was the Heiffer Project, still deciding this year. Then of course at holiday time, there's even more destinations for our charitable giving. Mine is a member of the decadent and apostate UCC, but our congregation is mostly retired people with conservative leanings.

One more time about the "compassionate conservatives" and the religious right....

Brooks mentions that across the board, whether you compare right to left, religious to non-religious and ever combo of the two, no matter if you're speaking of income levels, church or non-church charity, secular charity, etc, we on the right and especially we religious right simply are more generous than our lefty and/or secular counterparts.

Finally, that our whole US population is included in the 10% wealthiest in the world is suspect, but that even our poor are better off than poor people of other places is a testament to our way of life and economic system. But to say that a household under 74K is wealthy is just stupid. We are wealthy or poor by our own standards of what our way of life and economic system have provided. We are blessed. I don't think we're supposed to live poor, I think we're supposed to be holy whether we're rich or poor. I believe there are plenty of indications that God delights in the successes and prosperity of his faithful. And even more to the point here, I believe that if we truly care about the poor elsewhere in the world, we need to be encouraging the adoption of our way of life and economic system. It worked for us.

August 22, 2007 10:32 PM  
Anonymous BenT - the Unbeliever said...

Marshall have you read Mr. Brooks book? Just a glance at the reviews on Amazon and I have to say that I'm fairly skeptical. Also with books like this you really have to make sure you understand statistics and keep track of what is a percentage of what overall number. If a liberal gives $1 to charity and a conservative gives $2 then the conservative has given 100% more than the liberal. But they've still only together given $3.

From my snap glance the final analysis seems to show conservatives only slightly more likely than liberals to give money. Religious people are only slightly ahead of the non-religious.

Also Mr. Brooks book does count every penny given to churches as charitable giving.

The US government spends about 2% of it's total budget on foreign aid. That's 2% of the money you pay in taxes. Is that enough of your taxes spent on charity?

August 23, 2007 12:40 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Here's a link:

globalrichlist.com that gives us a clue.

I typed in $12,000 as annual income and that placed me in the top 12%. I didn't say that all Americans are in the top 10%, just that most of us here are. Most of us here at this blog today probably make more than $12,000.

The point remains: We're very wealthy and when I point to those verses, I'm pointing to the rich, which includes me.

August 23, 2007 6:19 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

That's nice BenT. I was responding to the charge that the religious right is not more generous. The book disputes that. The point didn't regarding amounts, only that one side was more generous than the other. The book suggests that Dan is wrong.

August 23, 2007 8:24 AM  
Anonymous BenT - the Unbeliever said...

And the point I was making to you Marshal is that books like this can be confusing if you don't pay attention to the statistics. The difference in contributions from religious-conservative to liberal atheist is only a few percentage points, not some great huge margin.

Also the book uses giving as a percentage of total income to compare liberal metropolitan areas with rural conservative ones. This was the same methodology that you poo-poo'd for judging US international aid -- using a percentage of overall income. I don't think this book verifies your claim the way you believe.

August 23, 2007 8:49 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Well I can only thus far judge by the radio interviews I've heard with the man, the one I heard the most of was on Medved, who grilled him from every direction. Brooks insists that it doesn't matter how you compare the two groups, it always comes down to the more generous side being conservatives and/or conservative people of faith. It's what stuck out the most about what I'd heard, that he made a major point of it. And that's the Dan-ism to which I was responding. I don't really care if it's a penny more in any circumstance, the point was that, as Dan stated, "I don't doubt the generosity of the Religious Right, I just doubt that they're significantly more generous than the rest of us." "Significantly" is a subjective term. I won't quibble on how significant the difference, but frankly, the use of the word was only to soften the blow of his opinion regarding the generosity of the religious right.

August 23, 2007 7:23 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Since the topic has turned to generosity, I feel qualified to discuss this with a certain amount of authority.

I do fund raising for Volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. In my experience, the most generous givers are the wealthy, and when I say wealthy, I mean super wealthy. The ones who don't feel the need to advertise their wealth. The most generous donations came from poeople that had modest houses and cars, but millions of dollars in their bank accounts.

Conversely, the most stingy people were the ones who made a point to let everyone around them know that they were wealthy. They were the ones that have mansions, and Escalades, and Mercedes, and Jaguars, and Ferraris, and Limosines, etc.

I have observed there are more than just two classes of people. There are the truly wealthy, the wannabe wealthy, the ones who aren't wealthy, but want everyone to think they are, and others. (by the way, those are the cheapest usually, unless they think I am going to tell their neighbors what they gave)

I would say, overall, though, that the most generous givers are the ones that don't have a pot to piss in, but give what they have anyway, even if it's only a few dollars, even if it's all they happen to have at the moment.

Christians and non-Christians alike.

Also, I would add, monetary contributions aren't necessarily the standard by which we measure generosity. there are other ways to serve humanity.

August 23, 2007 10:56 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "the most generous givers are the ones that don't have a pot to piss in, but give what they have anyway, even if it's only a few dollars, even if it's all they happen to have at the moment."

Amen. That would be the widow and her mite. An example, surely, given for us to follow, not as an object lesson only.

Lord, how hard it is to follow.

August 23, 2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Bubba spake with god-like wisdom:

"I won't quibble on how significant the difference, but frankly, the use of the word was only to soften the blow of his opinion regarding the generosity of the religious right."

Yes, you know better than I, O Bubba, that I have a low opinion of the religious - right and otherwise. Nevermind that I actually said, "I was intending no slight to the Religious Right, who are generous in many ways in my experience," - forget that. What I truly meant is that they're scumbags and only Bubba in his omniscience could see through my own thoughts to tell me what I truly think.

Thank you, your Bubbaness. Great is Bubba. Holy is Bubba. All praise...

Get a real mind, brother. Borrow some humility, something.

August 24, 2007 5:44 AM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"I was intending no slight to the Religious Right..."

Dan.

Umm.....BWa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

(Sigh!)

August 24, 2007 7:56 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Yeah, sure Dan. No intention to slight the right and then you do it anyway by questioning how much they give in relation to everyone else. But Brooks made a great case for the opposite and I'll stand with that for the time being.

Mark,

The less fortunate giving at all immediately puts them amongst the most generous in terms of percentage. But regarding the less fortunate, Brooks points out that the working poor give better than those on welfare. I took that to mean that their resources are similar in quantity, but they come by it being different. And just to raise a few hackles, in anyone's opinion, which way do either group lean politically or religiously?

August 24, 2007 7:59 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Just for fun, I'd like to comment on the point of the thread. Having reread it, it's plain the post isn't a reference to generosity, but to following following God's Will. Always a point of contention, it seems Eric was putting forth the theme of sin as reason for either our vulnerability or the nasty attitude of our enemies. This is a result of, as Eric puts it, we have "become fat, lazy, hedonistic, perverted, and dare I say it? Dangerous. Not simply to the world, but to herself!"

Are these not the types of behaviors for which we, as mere mortal fundies and adherants to Scriptural teaching, are incapable of naming out loud? How then can we heal of our iniquities, if some refuse to even recognize that they exist? To some, the only sinning going on is that which is committed by those who seek the most out of life and those who commit war crimes. Oh, and fundies, too.

August 24, 2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger mom2 said...

Thank you, your Bubbaness. Great is Bubba. Holy is Bubba. All praise...>

I think your haste to think you have something on Bubba has done something to your eyesight. The statement you attributed to Bubba was not from him. Care to apologize to Bubba for all the hullabaloo?

August 24, 2007 8:52 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

D'oh!

My apology to any Bubbas in the world. The aim of my sarcasm was off and Bubba was the colateral damage.

What I said, but to Marshall.

August 24, 2007 11:33 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Well, of course the working poor give more than those on welfare! They work! They make more money than those on Welfare. Welfare doesn't even come close to paying all their bills. There are no rich people on welfare, except drug dealers, and they are much too selfish to give to charities. That's why they're drug dealers. To get money without having to do legitimate work.

August 25, 2007 8:45 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Dan believes he's cut me to the quick? What a dull blade. If you were a sharper one, perhaps you would articulate in a more precise manner. If your words imply more than you mean, you'll just have to clarify when readers have drawn the conclusions to which your words have led them.

August 26, 2007 1:29 AM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Again, I humbly apologize that you read my words and implied something that I didn't say.

August 26, 2007 10:31 PM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"I humbly apologize that you read my words and implied something that I didn't say."

Dan...when are you going to realize...or admit...that every damned thing you right is riddled with false implications and veiled accusations?

Because....we are all able to read between your lines, pal.

Evil shmuck!

August 27, 2007 6:46 AM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"By all means, let us learn to do well" (yeah, lets just ignore that sin that God hates)"; seek judgment"...(yep...let's install judges who sentence preacher-killers to a few months in prison and let convicted pedophiles roam the streets to look for more victims)", relieve the oppressed,"(yep...let's pull our troops out of the ME so's those people can be free!) "judge the fatherless"...(okay...we should minimize the importance of the two-parent home as much as possible) "plead for the widow"(especially those whose husbands were killed in Iraq and who are bitter...to hell with those who support their husbands' mission as well as our nation's efforts... . "Come now, and let us reason together"... (not likely with leftist like you, Dan...your agenda gets in the way of reason)", saith the LORD..."(Don't forget to ignore everything else the Lord says which does not appear to support the leftist agenda.

August 27, 2007 6:56 AM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

I can't help but agree with Daddio. So much hypocrisy being bandied and slung about by Leftists. So much so it's left a sour taste in this bloggist's mouth. So much so I hate even to commit this comment to file.
So much so I wonder, with no small measure of amazement, that any of you get anything worthwhile out of all this pointless and fruitless discussion, here and elsewhere.

August 28, 2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger mom2 said...

Eric, My thoughts on your last post.
The leftist don't come here or go to any site to get anything out of it, they go to try to convince that THEY know all there is to know. It is useless to try to have a debate with them.

August 28, 2007 3:59 PM  
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

Speaking only for myself, I go places where I meet folk who disagree with me because I think it important for those who disagree to have conversations.

I know that people aren't "won over" to another way of thinking in conversations such as this, so it would be foolish to go places hoping to try to convert people. Not being super-extremely foolish (moderately foolish, sure, and even "extremely foolish," but not "super-extremely foolish), I wouldn't waste my time if that were my goal.

But if we who love God, who are Christians, who are brother and sister citizens, if we can't learn to get along and have conversations, despite our disagreements, what hope is there that we could ever work for peace elsewhere?

August 28, 2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous BenT - the Unbeliever said...

EL, Mom, Mark, Marshall, DDad; what part of your beliefs -- political or religious -- are maleable to change? What topics could we debate where you might be swayed? For a discussion that seemed pretty much centered around religion EL has to claim it was dominated by "Leftists" a political distinction. I know there are views I hold that are based less on facts and instead are unthinking assumptions from my past. I am always up for a discussion, and hope if someone shows me where I am skewed I can change. I want the ability to change to be a part of my personality. Can any of you Christian Conservatives say the same? Don't blame me for intransigence when you have no subjects left that you are even willing to discuss.

August 28, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

BenT. You ASSUME there are no areas that we would not accept change...but you are basing that ASSUMPTION on the NARROW list of topics we DO discuss.

You can convince me that the evolutionary process is the correct hypothesis...by allowing me to OBSERVE one organism transforming into another...a feat that has yet to be accomplished.

I won't hold my breath, however.

You can convince me that God doesn't exist...but you'll have to kill me first...then you'd be accomplishing nothing.

You elitist point-of-view blinds you to your own unfounded arrogance, pal.

August 29, 2007 8:41 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

BenT asked, "EL, Mom, Mark, Marshall, DDad; what part of your beliefs -- political or religious -- are maleable to change? What topics could we debate where you might be swayed?"

I like this question. Don't know if I have a specific answer, though. All I can say for sure is that I'm far more open-minded than it might appear. No, really. It's just that I'm content with where I'm at as a result of ping-ponging these issues in my own head for the last 35-40 years (I began REALLY young). Frankly, I'm confident that what I believe is heavily supported by evidence, reason and logic, that entering into these discussions is too often a futile attempt to hear something new. At this stage of the game, something new is likely to mean simply the same old, same old told in a different way that strikes a chord (I hope it's Dm7). Not long ago on another blog, there was a great debate about tax rates between a lib and a self-titled "neocon" that was very deep. The lib had some great points, but for me, far too much to research at the time. Really heavy stuff. Yet, there was something lacking in his arguments that the "neocon" filled perfectly. I still hope to research it, but the basics of the issue seem just so right from the rightwing. It makes perfect sense as it stands in my head now. Ah, but the potential of a sound & cogent argument!

August 31, 2007 12:47 AM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

"...At this stage of the game, something new is likely to mean simply the same old, same old told in a different way that strikes a chord..."

That's it, exactly. It's not that I'm close-minded, BenT simply hasn't said anything I haven't already heard time and time again... and rejected as flawed. The same with Dan and ER. I am simply not swayed by their arguments. For that reason I appear ideologically intractable.

Oh! I'm partial to Asus7.

August 31, 2007 8:06 AM  

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