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How will they realize their obligations to the poor?
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For Christians, humans are more than mere mouths. They know moral and spiritual poverty can be as devastating as material deprivation. This expansive understanding of poverty has enormous potential to help Christians correct materialist assumptions about human needs.
Another source of inspiration — especially for Americans — may be Alexis de Tocqueville’s great book, Democracy in America. Among other things, this nineteenth-century text illustrates how American churches played the predominant role in helping those in need in an America in which government was the means of last resort when it came to poverty.
Lastly, there is the example of the ancient church. The early Christians didn’t imagine that lobbying Roman senators to implement welfare programs was the way to love their neighbor. Instead, to the pagan world’s amazement, the early Christians — bishops, priests and laity — helped anyone in need in very direct, practical ways.
As anyone who has read the Church Fathers knows, the early Christians went out of their way to personally care for the poor, the incurably-sick, and the disabled — the very groups who were non-persons to the pagan mind.
Moreover, the Christians undertook such activities at their own expense, and often put their own lives at risk. When plagues came and everyone else fled, Christians generally stayed behind, refusing to abandon those in distress, regardless of their religion.
In crisis, the cliché goes, we find opportunity. Instead of engaging in politically exciting but ultimately futile rearguard-actions to defend welfare-states crumbling under the weight of decades of irresponsible spending, the coming post-welfare state age could be a chance for a Renaissance in Christian thought about the whys and hows of loving those to whom Christ Himself devoted special attention.
Yes, that means abandoning much of the framework that dominated 20th-century Christian reflection upon these questions. But anyone interested in serving the poor rather than their own ego or career-advancement shouldn’t hesitate to take such risks.
The poor’s spiritual and material well-being demands nothing less.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?