14 September 2005
The Christian imperative
One interpretation, by self-described "poor Christian" Dave Schuler:
What Jesus did not say was that there was an affirmative obligation to hire people whose putative duty was to help the poor or people in genuine need of help. He easily could have. He could have imagined the Samaritan as, rather than binding the wounds of the man who fell among thieves, taking him to an inn himself, and pressing money on the innkeeper to take care of him, tossing a shekel at him and hurrying on his way or speeding his way to the nearest town to notify the authorities. Or, rather than saying "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" he could have said, "Petition the authorities to feed the poor and clothe the naked".
And, in particular, I don't think Jesus taught that paying taxes (or voting for policies that caused other people to pay taxes) to support a government which, among other things, helped the poor and those genuinely in need of help was particularly virtuous. Quite to the contrary he said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's".
If the central issue were helping the poor and those in need of help, it might have been more effective. But that's not what He said. He said to feel compassion and take direct action yourself and I think there's a very different spiritual conformation and commitment required to do that.
The new Luke 18:11: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Republican."
Domine, non sum dignus.