Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seeking a new way. . .calling for new will

"But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited [laboring underclass], robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order."


— Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez

15 comments:

Dean Smith said...

This is a perspective we just don't understand, whether as individuals or churches. We dismiss this discussion as "class warfare" or socialism or wealth distribution without ever confronting the truth as individuals and leaders that will stand before God in judgment one day to give our response. Personally, I would rather do that now before, as I used to hear preachers say to unbelievers, "it's eternally too late."

Anonymous said...

Like the band Mount Righteous says, "forget your ways, work on your wills"

Jerry said...

Larry, what is your response to Gutierrez when he says in his book, "A Theology of Liberation," the following: Pg 66: "I believe that a socialist system is more in accord with the Christian principles of true fellowship, justice, and peace.... The history of the private ownership of the means of production makes evident the necessity of its reduction or suppression for hte welfare of society. We must hence opt for social ownership of the means of production." Pg 67: "...active and watchful collaboration to bring about a more just inhuman and anti-Christian system such as capitalism." Pb 63-4: "This view allows for a study of the complex problems of counterviolence without falling into the pitfalls of a double standard which assumes that violence is acceptable when the oppressor uses it to maintain 'order' and is bad when the oppressed invoke it to changes this 'order.' Institutionalized violence violates fundamental rights so patently that the Latin American bishops warn that 'one should not abuse the patience of a people that for years has borne a situation that would not be acceptable to anyone with any degree of awareness of human rights." Larry a couple of years ago you listed several of your favorite books, and I read all but one of them, and read every word. I appreciate the heart for the poor displayed by Gutierrez, but a full reading of this book reveals that he, without doubt, equates principles of socialism/Marxism with Christianity, and that violence in the pursuit of this new socialistic society is justifiable. How do you balance between some of the good "heart" issues with his clear Marxism and call for violence? Thanks for all you do.

Chris said...

It would be refreshing if for once you would quote from our founding fathers rather than some Marxist theologian.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Hog Hunting Texas said...

Life needs change so its good to change accordingly.

Larry James said...

Jerry, thanks for your post and your heart. Let me begin by saying that much of what Gutierrez says about violence is set in contrast to the oppressors of his beloved S. and Central America. In every case thru history, the oppressors have used violence and justified it in the name of faith early on and later in the name of property rights. I, of course, am not in favor of violence, but reading Gutierrez with an eye to his history makes him understandable. . .but then, I never agree with all that is in any book.

As to economics, clearly capitalism in the US has lost its way and we all are to blame. Labor is shorted, greed rewarded and the beloved community is destroyed. Certainly, Gutierrez has a point when you compare modern day capitalism with the community of Acts 2 and 4.

I have longed felt that as a predominately Calvinist society, we have equated material success with the mark of election. There is much to ponder here, my friend and for the most part our churches don't ask these questions, nor do they give us much guidance. Let's agree to keep thinking and talking.

Jerry said...

Larry, you will get full agreement from me that capitalism has "lost its way" as you stated, and is in need of many reforms. However, Guiterrez's call for socialism vs. capitalism as being more in line with Acts 2, 4, however, is problematic, since Guiterrez calls for the abolition of private means of production--that is, he calls for state controlled, owned means of production. Acts 2, 4, have to do with individuals giving of their own wealth, and has no hint of state owned means of production. Now, don't get me wrong, we need more governmental support for the "least of these." However, using Guiterrez as a prophet for a new social order has its own set of problems, since his social order is definitively socialistic and Marxist. Other liberation theologians in the US do echo his calls, both for socialism/Marxism, and for violence if necessary to remedy the social order. I know you well enough to know that you are not in those camps, but those are the minority views to which crazies such as Beck refer in their myopic rants. I think we agree that there are substantial problems in our capitalism that need resolution, but I think we also agree that there has not been a successful Marxist society. Therefore, the great middle is where I try to reside--that is, reform capitalism along humane, Christian principles, but allow private production, ownership, and the liberty that comes from that system. In other words, let's keep the good and clean up the bad, but let's not "throw throw the baby out with the bathwater." I do not think that creating a new socialistic/ Marxistic society is the only route to resolving the issues we have as does Guiterrez and other liberation theologians. Hey, I will always be your friend, and will always enjoy talking with you. I remember we used to have very interesting conversations over hot chocolate and sweet rolls at the old student center at dear old HC; also, in the library when we were supposed to be studying. Good to renew those conversations, even if on line. Hey, let's have breakfast or lunch one day so we can really talk. God bless you and your dedication to "the least of these."

Larry James said...

Jerry, your spirit has always been so engaging nad encouraging to everyone! Thanks for your post. Actually, I didn't pick up the quote to use it as an endorsement of everything that Gutierrez wrote or believes. His call for a new order doesn't mean that I am calling for the dismantling of capitalism. I believe there can be a new social order by reforming what we currently have in place. Universal health care, educational and workforce training beyond high school to everyone who wants it, living wage jobs, decent housing, public safety in all parts of a community, etc. More progressive social orders do exist and they seem to work. We are so defined by individualism that we've lost our way when it comes to strong communities.

I'd love to have breakfast with you some time. Let's work on that.

Jerry said...

Larry, I know that you were not endorsing all the Guiterrez had to say; no problem from me on that.

Hey, the last week in April I am free all week; no appointments. Do you happen to have a morning that wee that we could meet for breakfast? Anywhere that is convenient for you and your traveling in the a.m. would be fine for me; I'll buy. Let me know where and the time; I can meet you as early as 5:00 a.m. or as late as you want. C'ya soon.

Chris said...

Larry, the more "progressive" social orders are further along than we on their way to collapse. Have you checked out Greece lately? In that socialist paradise one has to bribe officials to get a drivers license or enter a public hospital. Western Europe is not far behind.

Our only hope is more freedom from government interference, stop government spending and restore fiscal responsibility. Oh, and it would help to get Obama out of office.

belinda said...

Larry - right on!
Too often we believe the horror stories we're told about other countries . . . we're told this garbage so we'll believe we have the perfect world.

Anonymous said...

Chris:

You wanted a quote from a Founding Father. Here you go:

"All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."

- Benjamin Franklin

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:25 and Larry - so is it your position that there is a limit to a person's wealth or property above which the Government can take? Do you believe that those considered "wealthy" are not paying their fair share and thus the Government should take more from them? Is redistribution of hard earned wealth the answer in your opinion? In my opinion, this new regime is going to tax the very people who can provide jobs and wealth creation for our citizens into oblivion, and then we will all be able to see first-hand how socialism can destroy a country. We will fall in line with other countries who have had the unfortunate experience of living under a socialist regime. If the goal is to take ( or confiscate) from those who have and give to those who don't, we are well on our way to meeting that goal. And when that happens, our country will be for the worse.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for Larry. As for me, I was simply providing what Chris asked for - a quote from a founding father. But I suspect it is a quote she won't like. I was simply trying to make the point that nothing is as simple, pure (ideologically) or monolithic as Chris seems to think. The Founding Fathers were not all of one mind about how things should work any more than we are. Such a view is a gross oversimplification, or a truly "revisionist" view, of history.

Personally I think the quote is simply a political version of "to him whom much is given, much will be expected." You can't get money to run the government (or anything else for that matter) from those that don't have it. It just stands to reason that those that have the means to pay taxes are those society must look to to do so. And having benefitted the most from whatever system they live in, it seems appropriate that society's biggest beneficiaries should do the most to support that system.

Ken
Dallas