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The Resistance Prays

January 26, 2019
By Chett Pritchett

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Today's Top Story
From New York Magazine: AOC Thinks Concentrated Wealth Is Incompatible With Democracy. So Did Our Founders 
"Regardless, Ocasio-Cortez’s second argument against the existence of billionaires — that concentrated wealth is incompatible with genuine democracy — was something close to conventional wisdom among the founders (including those who opposed democracy)."
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
–Luke 16:19-31
Immorality of Wealth

It’s telling that when you search the internet for “Bible and Money” the first two pages of hits are about wealth and prosperity. I learned a long time ago that mainline Protestants aren’t comfortable talking about money; progressives are even worse. 

Why are we so afraid of money? Is it because we don’t want our neighbors to know how much or how little we have? Is it because we live in a model of scarcity instead of a model of abundance? (And if our theology of money is based on that model, how does that affect our understandings of grace and mercy?)

As Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has pointed out, the accumulation of wealth and the accumulation of power are undemocratic. But wait! They’re also unbiblical. Indeed, as the author of Luke points out, this is a warning for us all. 

  • Instead of accumulating stuff, give it away. It doesn’t have to be in the Marie Kondo kind of way, but take account of how your stuff is weighing you down. And then once you’ve minimized, STOP BUYING MORE STUFF. Check out Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping for some humor (and knowledge).
  • Read, mark, and inwardly digest. Check out these Bible studies on economic justice from the United Church of Christ. 
  • See money (and your stuff) as a resource for changing the world. Build resources with your neighbors to address needs you see in your community and change power dynamics. 

Holy One, Holy Other, Help us to declutter our hearts and minds. Give us the insight and heart to give up – not in spirit – but in wealth. Guide us to shift centers of power, address the needs of our neighbors, and flip systems that lead to poverty and oppression. Amen.

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