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Monday, August 19, 2013

Modern Poverty

As little as two hundred years ago, most of the people in the world lived in grinding poverty, bone-crushing, mind-numbing, earth-shattering poverty. At least by today's standards. Yet for almost two thousand years, those same bone-crushingly poor people built some of the most beautiful buildings the world has ever seen. They were physically poor but spiritually rich.

Today, there is no such thing as a poor person, at least not by the standards of the 1800s. Every person today is richer than ANY person was in 1800 - more physically comfortable, better medical care, better food and lodging, longer life, healthier.

Today's population are physically rich, but poor in spirit. Today, we can't design a church that looks better than the average gymnasium. Don't WANT a church that looks better than a supermarket.

And the bishops, by and large, have decided that the traditional understanding of beauty is not the way to evangelize these spiritually poor people. They believe that well-stocked supermarkets and gymnasiums will work better. So, they fund social justice instead of encouraging beauty. They won't pay for beauty, you see, because it doesn't "feed the poor."

Which is kind of ironic, given that today's poor are much less likely to be hungry or naked or homeless or ill than any previous generation of poor in the history of the world.

It's a conundrum. Back when you would expect bishops to be worried about feeding the poor, they spent decades building cathedrals. Now, when feeding the poor is something the government does, and does pretty well, actually, the bishops change their tune. Now, exactly when most people don't really need the physical assistance, the bishops stop worrying about beautiful cathedrals and start worrying about feeding the poor.

It's pretty remarkable, when you think about it.

1 comment:

Jim Dorchak said...

There will always be poor people who need feeding. Perhaps as a conduit to holiness for those of us more fortunate, but not so many in the USA.
My last job i did in the USA was appraise (using the cost approach "RCN") , all the state and local government improved property for insurance purposes in my state. It was not what i called appraising but it was a job.
I looked all types of property, from churches, sewer plants, hospitals, universities, state penns, facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped, zoos, international airports, government buildings of every sort and....... Government housing! Over +/-5000 properties in 3 years were inspected by me alone, and i was only 1 of 5 doing the job.
When you are looking at a new house (much nicer than my own) that has a new BMW parked in the drive, and the big black woman who lives there comes out the door to complain that the cable tv is cut off to her new 40" plasma flat screen, and someone better do somthing!!! Then you realize there is no poverty, especially since this was the norm. It should also be noted that over the 3 years i only saw 1 (one) white occupant of government housing. There were many whites in the homes for disabled as well as blacks. One of the black guys i was working with stated that the fastest way to get approved if you were a white female was to have a black child.
I saw as a gestimate well over $100. Million in waste.
Yes there are people going hungry in the USA, but only because they want to, or where they are truly indigent, the government wants them to go hungry. As a side note. There were many times/nights where for me doing this job on the road, and funding the job for 3 months before getting paid, that i slept in the car or only had a meal every other day. It was ok though because i am a little chubby, and i had to do what it took to feed my family with out government assistance.
Thank God that is now all a bad dream!