Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hoot and Holler.

In watching the two recent Republican/Tea Party debates I have realized that most of the things I am trying to accomplish with my life are opposite of the "conservatives" agenda. Because Republicans are more predominantly known as the "Christian" party, and I have many Christian friends who are really positive and excited about these candidates for presidency, I have felt a little outcasted from my Christian community lately.

It has been plain to see that Red America is clear about certain things in dealing with human life: It's okay to let sick people die on the street if they have no health insurance or are immigrants, it's a good thing that Texas has killed so many people under capital punishment, and that Ron Paul is cRaZy for caring about all of the afghan locals who have been killed in the war.

When I heard these things in the last two debates my heart literally broke.

It's no wonder that I face so much animosity in Berkeley as someone who calls herself a Christian. People might look at me and think that I have no value for human life. Mostly I think people look at me strange because I seem to be the polar opposite of what they know a Christian to be.

Studying Social Work has been extremely fascinating because the more history I learn the quicker I realize that it's Christians who started this whole "alms to the poor" movement. Well actually it started with a Jewish Guy - Jesus. You may have heard of Him...

After that it seems as if there was a big pattern of Christians being the first to help the poor. Christians were the ones who were adopting the orphans, starting programs, and preaching to the locals about how God has commanded us to care for the impoverished. They led the way in immigration reforms for the Irish who ran from the potato famine, and African slaves and their children. It was Lincoln who said that it was his Christian faith which compelled him to start tax payer funded schools for the recently freed Africans.

So when was it that we made a shift, as Christians, and as a church, to focus on money, worship sets, buildings and church politics instead of focusing on reaching out to our communities - the social gospel? When did this shift teach us to celebrate the death of human being?

I don't know about your Bible but mine tells me to love. We are to show people God's love just like He has showed His love to us. And oh my heavens, I really hope God doesn't hoot and holler and the thought of me dying' on the street...



12 comments:

Steph said...

um... a-freakin-men. Thanks for posting this... I can so relate.

Honestly... I just don't get the christian approach to social issues. At all.

Andrew Faris said...

Carrie,

Here's my continual beef with you on this: I'm all for caring for the poor (so we agree on the principle), but I'm just not sure that I think centralized federal government should be the ones to do that.

We agree on the ends. We disagree about the means.

And that's my frustration with a post like this: saying that Republicans think it's "ok" for the poor and for immigrants to die without health insurance is totally is just not helpful to anyone. It really isn't. That's because nobody actually thinks that.

Just like you don't actually think that abortion is fine and we should all be cool with it. But I'm sure I could write a strongly worded post about how all Democrats are totally ok with babies being gruesomely murdered. What would you think if I wrote that? Is that helpful or not?

Did you ever watch The West Wing? There's a really great exchange on the West Wing where one of the White House staffer secretaries in the Democratic administration is on a date with a Republican lawyer. She asks him at one point why he is a Republican, and he sarcastically responds, "Because I hate poor people. I hate them, Donna. They're all so poor, and many of 'em talk funny, and don't have proper table manners... my father slaved away at the Fortune 500 company he inherited so that I could go to Choate, Brown and Harvard and see that this country isn't overrun by poor people and lesbians."

I just wish you'd write in ways that showed that you don't think Republican Christians actually think that.

Andrew
Someone Tell Me the Story

Andrew Faris said...

I also had it in mind to respond like this:

"It has been plain to see that Blue America is clear about certain things in dealing with human life. It's okay to murder babies if their mothers think it's ok. It's fine that illegal immigrants benefit from bankrupt state and federal economies without paying into it- I know we don't have any money, but we should give it away anyway. It's fine that everyone gets free health insurance even though social handouts have been repeatedly proven to reinforce laziness. Not to mention that I'm paying for health insurance for a lot of people who are out of work and money because they're alcoholics and drug addicts, not because they are just down on their luck."

Carrie said...

Steph - Steph G.? :)

Carrie said...

Hey Andrew -

Thanks for the comment!! I am excited to start blogging again.

Hey sorry for the misunderstanding of sorts - I tried to be reeeeally careful with my wording - solely trying to focus on the presidential candidates who call themselves Christians, and then my friends who are Christians who have been open with me about their feelings towards these issues. You are definitely not in one of those categories.

Second, thanks for bringing out the abortion debate - SUCH a good thing to bring up. In my original blog post I had this whole rant about how I hated abortion, and I am adopted, and it's a hard subject because the it's about the government controlling LIFE (HUGE issue!) - but I took it out because it just didn't fit and I wanted to keep to the topics brought up in the last few debates.

With that said - in regards to your comment about nobody thinking that way - I swear to you - people.think.this.way. Have you watched the recent few debates? Maybe search some youtube clips - maybe I will and post them on here... I am telling you, people think this way. I don't want to slander anyone on my blog but I can put you in contact with Biola graduating Christians who have told me they think this way. This is the sole reason for this blog post. I am not saying ALL Christian Republicans think these things... but A LOT do. A LOT. Or at least, I know A LOT.

I need to watch that episode - wow - so crazy.

And fiiiinally - your second response is perfect! Perfectly helping me with my entire point. Abortion aside (because that issue is really complicated for me), it's plain to see we have different mindsets - and this is why I am saying - I feel like I don't fit in...

Illegal Immigrants - So much to say. This country is founded on illegal immigration. Like I said in my blog post, it was the Christians who welcomed illegal immigrants over centuries and centuries in America. I am not saying it's an easy subject and that's why it's hard for me to respond in my comment section, but I will just say that it's not the illegal immigrants who are taking all of our money. They really are the ones who are working under the table - doing everything under the table, really.

And again - health insurance - well we are already and will forever be paying for everyones health insurance who doesn't have it and needs medical attention. I truly think that universal healthcare and many other things will help the tax payers pay less into the whole system. Again - this is another way bigger issue than my comment section can hold. But the reality is is that there will always be the homeless, drunkards, with mental issues out there. These people don't want our help (well, only money for alcohol), but they will wind up in the ER eventually (and usually a lot). If we can give these people an insurance card and direct them to a primary care physician, then maybe they won't end up costing thousands of dollars in emergency room visits.

And again, for both of these issues - as a Christian we need to realize people are suffering in other countries many times, or are being split from their families - because I love them, I want them to come here.

And as a Christian, if someone is in need of medical attention, I want them to get help, and to feel loved, because I love them - just like God loves them.

Steph said...

Yes, steph g. :)


So many thoughts... but we'll stick with these.

I would like to second the "people actually think this way" comment. I sat around a table in Eagles with a bunch of seminary students and one seriously said, "people are poor as a result of cosmic justice" as part of why we shouldn't take care of the poor. No one in the group batted an eye until I called foul and even then I was met with intense opposition.

And, I'm honestly just curious, what research has shown that social handouts promote laziness?

Andrew Faris said...

Carrie,

Super, super helpful clarifications. I really appreciate that. And I suppose the only thing I can say about whether or not people actually believe what you're saying they do is that if you and Steph are right, then, well, I'm wrong. So it goes, and I stand corrected.

Regarding the actual issues, just for whatever it's worth I'm not sure that I actually agree with everything I wrote that a conservative might say. It was more of the devil's advocate, "here's what they'll say back" kind of thing. In fact I've gotten more moderate recently for two reasons: (1) I'm married to a high school teacher in the inner city who has thought more about the education issues than I have, so I've learned a lot, and (2) that process and other conversations have showed me just how little I really know about all this. These issues are so big, so difficult, so complex. My older, easy answers just won't do.

But I will say, in response to Steph's question: Thomas Sowell has written a bunch on this, as far as I know (not that I've actually read it, to be honest- but like I said, I was more just stating the conservative position than advocating it). Sowell is black, was born in North Carolina, raised in Harlem, served in the Korean War, got a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago (he also has a bachelor's from Harvard and Master's from Columbia) and has taught/teaches at Stanford. He's no slouch.

He's written a ton, so I can't remember the book name, but in one of his books apparently he argues that one of the worst things that has happened to the poor, black community has been social welfare (the official "Welfare" program, and the broader welfare issues). So you could look into that. Another black, conservative representative of that kind of thinking is Larry Elder, who is black, from Crenshaw, and has an undergrad degree from Brown and a J.D. from U. of Michigan Law- so yeah, pretty smart. He used to be litigator, but now he's a talk radio guy. Super smart, super articulate, and he argues this kind of thing a lot. Political talk radio is a waste of time normally, but Elder's stuff is good.

So anyway, you could look into that.

Andrew

Steph said...

Haha... such a small world! I seriously watched a documentary today on the working poor and Thomas Sowell was one of experts.

He seems like a very bright and well credentialed scholar. But almost every time he talked on the video, I cringed. From what I know about Sowell, he is in fact respected but holds a very extreme view of the benefits of a market society that even many economists wouldn't go as far to support.

In my limited study, I'm continually amazed that people can look at the same set of data and come to such diverse conclusions! :) I think that how our culture understands poverty and welfare play a huge role in our explanation of the data. I don't know if ya' all have ever looked into it, but the history of social welfare in the United States, particularly how views on poverty and welfare have changed, is fascinating and I think very telling of our understanding of poverty today. The first couple chapters of the book From Poor Law to Welfare State by Trattner gives what I feel is a really good and balanced overview social welfare in america if you ever want to check it out.

Carrie said...

Ha! I am totally reading Trattner too - or READ it already. I am interested to hear what else you are reading, Steph. We have to get together over the holidays FOR SURE!!

Andrew - Steph was a bib studies then MA at talbot lady who is now studying social work as well. It's spreading like wildfire!! ;)

Anyway, ya, Trattner's book BLEW MY MIND! The history of social welfare is FASCINATING and like I have already said a million times, led by Christians! If I were to get a PhD I think my dissertation would be something about Christianity dying out in America due to the decline of social welfare among church's. Boom! Thoughts???

Larry Elder - No, sorry, Andrew. I definitely disagree with most of his views (black or not) ;)

Sowell - don't know much about him.

Thanks for being honest, Andrew. (1) Your wife is awesome and I am glad you married her. (2) YES! Finally someone who admits that easy answers won't cut it anymore. Thank you! I agree!

I am about to go through 1 John 4 tomorrow with my Bible study ladies because we are on the attribute of God's love (exciting stuff!). Oh man, it's so rich, and full of commands for us as Christians to love. My opinions... my actions.. is just me trying to love. People who think opposite things of me I am sure are acting on what they think is love. So I will continue to love the "other side" of the line (of course!) but will never stop trying to preach my view of love and justice to my brothers and sisters. I truly think it's what Jesus would want. Trying to do it humbly... trying!

Steph said...

Yes! Let's get together over the holidays for sure! I'd love to catch up!!

ConservChrist said...

You're right, welfare began with the Christians, but instead of Christians continuing on God's work, they're focusing on which presidential candidate to vote for that will do the work for them. So who are the lazy ones really? A few points every Christian needs to understand:
1. It is sad that when it comes to voting politically, we must go with the lesser of two evils. (which is why I tend to not vote Blue.)
2. No matter what we do as the Church, this world will never get better (Revelation). Our job is not to make the world a better place, but to spread the Word of God to as many people as possible. If that means handing out a sandwich or blanket, fine, but putting all our focus on someone who doesn't want help from us, is a waste of time. We need to trust God that once our message is delivered, He'll take care of the rest. We plant the seeds, God takes it from there on whether that seed will grow. I say the world will never be a better place because biblically, it won't be. So fretting over political candidates is pointless. No matter who is in power, that nation will eventually go up against Israel.
3. Lastly, if a person is going to bring Christ into American politics, then Conservative Christianity is to Liberal Christianity as Republicans are to democrats. Which brings me back to choosing the lesser of two evils. Your argument was that, basically, republicans won't do God's work as well as democrats will. But it's not the republicans' nor the democrats' job to do God's work. It's yours.

In support of Andrew, history has shown us time and time again that socialism, communism (same thing) and healthcare do not work. Japan had the best designed healthcare system ever known to man, and it failed.

Also, to say you disagree with libertarianism is to say you wholeheartedly side with capitalism to it's fullest republican extent. Libertarians believe, correctly, that there should be more small businesses supporting our local communities rather than big fortune 500 companies. Libertarians favor the Family owned farmer's market over Wal-Mart any day.


- ConservChrist

Rev. Neyda Albarrán said...

I hear you sister...just read your comment to an article in the NY Times and I hear you! This whole tea party thing...ugh! I hear you on this one too... I just started my blog. I am actually an Associate Pastor at a church...I jokingly call myself the Ass pastor...hehehe, the Senior Pastor position is open and I am doing all the work but am still an Ass pastor...mainly because I am a woman! Oh well, I too am frustrated by misrepresentation of Christians by this tea party clan... disgusted!
My bolg is:
www.revneyda.blogspot.com