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03 August 2006

Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.Matthew 19:23-24

I'm tired of being white trash, broke and always poor
Tired of taking pop bottles back to the party store
I'm tired of not having a phone
Tired of not having a home to have one in if I did have it on
— Eminem

When we humans think about wealth, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to people who are wealthier than we are. Every year magazines compile lists of people who are a lot richer than we are: movie stars, politicians, musicians, professional athletes, and so on. And let’s face it, here in the United States there are a lot of people who are richer than us.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to forget that we are wealthier than most people on the planet. Subconsciously, I think we all know that. Or perhaps it’s just that these issues have been at the forefront in the past few years, what with Bono and the One Campaign and so on.

Still, it’s a little sobering to realise just how rich we are. According to the Global Rich List, for example, I am the 242,608,696 richest person in the world, which puts me in the top 4 percent. On a planet with more than 6 billion people, that’s pretty wealthy indeed.

Admittedly, this statistic fails to consider a lot. Am I more rich because I don’t have children, or less rich because I have a wife in graduate school who only works as a T.A.? Am I more or less rich because I rent instead of paying a mortgage? Less rich because I live in a suburb on the outskirts of Chicago, which has a much higher cost of living than, say, Tennessee? Or more rich because I would undoubtedly make less money living in an area with a lower cost of living? Am I wealthier by virtue of living in a wealthy country, where I have easy access to cheap goods made in Chinese and Indian sweatshops? Do I consider that a person living in Central or Eastern Europe making an average of $300-$600 U.S. dollars a month might have a better life than someone in the United States making minimum wage, because the cost of living is so much lower there?

And while it’s certainly important that we consider those things, it’s also important that we not let them distract us from the real point: most of us living in the United States are very wealthy, wealthy enough that we should be making a real difference in the lives of people who are really living in poverty. It’s a shame that we aren’t.

But I suppose we shouldn’t let that distract us. Jesus was, after all, more concerned with gay marriage and swearing on television than he was with the poor.

Comments on "Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger"


Blogger Dan Trabue said ... (8/03/2006 03:25:00 PM) : 



Blogger jasdye said ... (8/03/2006 11:46:00 PM) : 

while in school, i was in the top 13% richest.

yeah, the chart is a bit shady (income and not wealth, which is probably a better measurement anyway, since many americans in our condition don't have the wherewithal to save money in order to accumulate wealth anyway).

i think in a sense the reason we do so little is that our senses get bludgeoned. i can't help but turn away every time a crying sally struthers enters the tv or i'm shown another bloated samolian with flies swarming around his little face... it's overwhelmingly sad.

but i think that's compounded by just human, natural greed and self-centeredness. i know that there's tons of giving and supporting americans, many of them christians, but yeah, i think in general, we're self-focused. it's hard to care for other people if they're not w/in our sphere.

now i'm sad. as i guess i should be.


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