Misery

In the fundy worldview, there is nothing worse than a happy, healthy, and contented sinner. For unless the lost are miserable, sick, and hungry how are they to understand how very bad they have been and turn to the fundy for help? Far be it from the fundamentalist to get between a sinner and the perceived punishment for his sin.

Understanding this desire for sinners to live in misery and squalor is key to understanding the fundamentalist view of how charity should be dispensed. For what does it profit to feed the hungry or bind up the wounded if all if does is permit them to go back to their godless existence with a full stomach and freedom from pain? Sinners should suffer until they at last come crawling into the fold, with words of sorrow on their lips.

Any act of charity that is not bait for a gospel trap is all but worthless in fundyland. God may send rain on both the just and unjust but the fundamentalist is often loath to dispense kindness and mercy in the same fashion.

188 thoughts on “Misery”

  1. Sinners should suffer until they at last come crawling into the fold, with words of sorrow on their lips.

    A most accurate summation of the Fundie Mindset. They are getting what they deserve…

    1. That sounds just like the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son! How that parable has convicted me. I identified with the older brother. I didn’t think the prodigal deserved a party either.

      When I realized this, I was ashamed of myself. I AM the sinful prodigal, at least in the eyes of God, and I am grateful for His mercy to me. It is His goodness – His grace, mercy, love, and compassion – that draws me to repentance, not my fear of being brutally punished if I don’t.

      1. The Parables don’t have titles in the Bible. Somewhere along the way, someone decided that story was about the prodigal son, but it is also about his brother and his father. In fact, the people Jesus was speaking too probably would have identified more with the older brother, as many of us “church people” today do.

        1. ….actually, it is even more applicable than that…

          …all three parables in Luke 15 are about rejoicing with those that rejoice over lost things being found–the Silver, the Sheep, and the Son.

          The point of all three parables (if you read the verses before and after the parables)is to point out to the Pharisees there lack of care and concern and hard heartedness toward those who were rejoicing.

        2. I’ve always used the words of Jesus to infer an appropriate title – in this case, I have always called it the parable of the two sons. As you note, the parable is NOT the story of a wasteful, sinful son but rather the story of two sons, both of whom rebelled against their father’s authority – and for both the father steps outside his expected limits, abandons his position, and goes after the erring son. A beautiful story, made more beautiful by the unresolved chord of the ending.

      2. I hear you PW. A certain person who used to be a Fundy-Lite Favorite Artist (FAA for short) wrote a wonderful song about that moved me. This person is now persona non gratis due to having come out of the closet.

  2. I think this post accurately reflects the underlying reason why most of the IFB churches I was in did relatively nothing to help the needy: “if we aleviate their needs, then they won’t realize they need Jesus.” The problem with that view is that it directly contradicts what Jesus clearly said numerous times in Scripture. My husband and I are so excited to change our focus to SHOWING God’s love by helping people.

    1. I was educated mainly with rich people, and since then I’ve spent a lot of time with rich people. By and large, far more poor people than rich people have the gospel. The rich are the ones who are spiritually starving.

      Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” He never said “… on the condition that they join your sect.”

  3. This has been one area where I have had trouble leaving fundamentalism behind. My tendency to judge people in my mind because of their situation is something that I still struggle with.

    I have to keep reminding myself of the words of the Savior when he was asked why a man was born blind. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

    1. It has nothing to do with what they’ve done, or that they deserve it, but the Gospel is very important and I do believe we should be hoping to share the Gospel at some point. Anyway, I struggle with this one.

  4. Unfortunately Darrell, you are right. As a recovering fundy, this notion even applied somewhat to me.

    Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice has really changed my thinking for the better. I highly recommend it (and the New Testament) to all Christians but especially former fundies.

  5. Growing up in a Fundy household, son of Fundy missionaries, this was one of the big “disconnects” that I began to see in fundyism from my early teens, and it started my move OUT of fundyism. Fundies conveniently overlook passages like Matthew 25:35-40, and that really drove me nuts!

    1. That passage was extremely important in influencing my husband to change the direction and focus of our church from separation and isolation to compassion and outreach. Our belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven has not changed, but we have changed how we are going to share that message.

      1. don’t forget the next verse,

        Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

        1. @Theo

          I am not sure what your motivation was for posting that verse. If it is an attempt to disagree with the posts above, then you may want to continue reading.

          You will notice that those that do not have compassion are the ones that are going to hell.

        2. @Theo, yes, it is the entire passage that influenced my husband. I didn’t check out the exact verses listed by FormerFundy, just knew the Matthew 25 passage was cited and it is a doozy. Whether you look at the first part about the righteous who are welcomed to heaven, or the second part about those who are going to hell, it’s a powerful, thought-provoking passage.

          Here is the complete ending passage: Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away(BL) into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

          Am I responsible to TELL people the good news? Absolutely. But this passage holds me responsible for doing more than just handing out a tract with the Romans Road printed on it.

        3. (Please excuse the (BL) in the verse above. When you copy the ESV in Bible Gateway, it throws in all these extra letters that you have to go back and delete. I missed one.)

    2. I re-read Matthew 25 and looked up Matthew Henry as well. He blames a low view of God for the fundy view (which is laziness):

      ” Good thought of God would beget love, and that love would make us diligent and faithful; but hard thoughts of God beget fear, and that fear makes us slothful and unfaithful.”

      1. ^ Wow! Yes! It fits with the parable about the servant who buried his talent, afraid that his hard master would be angry if he lost the talent. The master was angry that he hadn’t invested it at all. I feel like the IFB is afraid that God will get mad if they help an organization that isn’t completely “doctrinally pure” so they won’t be part of “Feed the Children” or “Samaritan’s Purse” or anything. Their fear of God’s wrath keeps them from doing ANY charitable work at all. They are so focused on His holiness, that they lose sight of His love and compassion and graciousness.

        1. Oddly enough, the graciousness, compassion, and love of God are what separate Him from other gods and from human depravity. These things are a major part of His holiness.

          Even those who say evangelicals/liberals focus too much on God’s love and not His justice forget Paul says “whoever loves others fulfills the law.” His love (and our lack) separates Him from sin/sinners; His love reconciles sinners.

          I only write the obvious bc I hated the concept of holiness for a long time and only have recently realized what a wonder it is. (Any doctrinal errors are mine and should be corrected ❗ )

    1. Shortly after Mother Teresa died our pastor (we were stilled attending fundy church) remarked on some of her writings. He pointed out that Mother Teresa admitted that she went years without feeling God’s presence. “Aha,” he declared with glee, “see, she wasn’t saved.” For me that was one more of the proverbial “straws on the camel’s back” as we moved closer to making the decision to leave fundyland. I refused to believe that anyone could live the life of sacrifice that Mother Theresa led without Holy Spirit power.

      “There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:

      Jesus is my God,
      Jesus is my Spouse,
      Jesus is my Life,
      Jesus is my only Love,
      Jesus is my All in All;
      Jesus is my Everything

      The dying, the cripple, the mental,
      the unwanted, the unloved
      they are Jesus in disguise.”

      – Mother Teresa

    2. It is sad to see someone who was trying to work their way into heaven by doing good works–doing it for the glory of God and to help people is one thing, ….but what Teresa did was also to earn her way into heaven, which is why it never brought her peace.

      I have read some of her writings to gain some insight and it was startling. It was really a wake up call and changed my opinion dramatically concerning her and her ministry.

      She is a good example of how over emphasis on such truth leads to terrible things..she is to be pitied , not emulated.

      1. Pitied perhaps, but let us not rejoice, as this pastor did, when her writings revealed that she didn’t feel God’s presence. (I know that you are not rejoicing as he did.) As far as her salvation, only God knows. I’ll have to do more research before I make decision on her character and motivation. I will read her writings directly as you did and not the writings of athesists who may or may not have an agenda. The main point of my post was to tell of the glee that our fundy pastor experienced at having learned MT had doubts and flaws and that her short comings were being made known to the world. It was as if he was happy to learned that she was indeed not saved…such vindication. I found it despicable.

        1. By the way, Just Exhaled, if you want to know more about what Mother Theresa was describing when she said she didn’t hear from God, you might want to look into “Dark Night of the Soul” and St. John of the Cross, which is what she was talking about.

      2. She was not working her way to heaven. She was doing good works as Jesus commanded as most here desire to do. Catholics believe the same as most of you, that we are saved by grace.

        1. I don’t mean to be argumentative, but there is a good amount different between what the average evangelical believes and what a Catholic believes, fundy or not. It’s not basically the same thing.

      3. Theo, spare me your pity.

        Mother Theresa (and Catholics in general) don’t work their way to heaven. Catholicism teaches that we’re saved by grace through faith, but that if one truly has faith, they will also have works. (like what’s found in the book of James)

        They are just listening to what Jesus said “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” According to Church teaching, good works don’t come from us, but from God. They’re a natural result in the life of a person who cooperates (for lack of a better word) with God.

        1. This sub-thread causes me to speculate: do many fundamentalists avoid good works because to do good works would be an indication of using works, rather than grace, to gain salvation? Perhaps, the subconscious (or, even conscious) thinking is that while intellectually assenting to salvation by grace there is an emotional need to secure that salvation through good works. In other words — “If I don’t do good works, then I can avoid the good works equals salvation trap.”

        2. One of the clearest explanations I’ve ever heard came from Mother Angelica on EWTN. She said, “If you are looking to the Sacraments to save you, you will be lost. We are saved by faith in Christ, nothing more, nothing less. The Sacraments are a demonstration of our devotion to Christ.”

        3. “do many fundamentalists avoid good works because to do good works would be an indication of using works, rather than grace, to gain salvation?”

          My former fundy church did no good works in the community. The monies they collected from their poor and elderly congregation went to keep the lights and heat on in the church building, a salary and free housing for the ManOGawd, and the rest was bankrolled so they could worship it like an idol. When I left, the balance in their bank account was in the six figures, and there was always debate whether to give to a particular missionary or not, usually in the amount of a few hundred dollars.

      4. Theo, you have missed the point. Mother Teresa’s grief at her loss of the sense of God’s presence wasn’t lack of faith. It was merely lack of feeling. That she persisted is an incredible sign of profound faith. Jesus Christ was clear: in the final judgment, we are not judged on how we felt, or on how well we understood the Gospel, but on the evidences of loving Christ. Whoever loves the least of His brothers loves Christ. She loved Christ. She may not have gotten the details right, but her actions proved her love for Christ, even if she may have gotten some of the details of the mechanics of how it all worked wrong.

        1. Jeri

          I respectfully disagree. Her writings speak for themselves, and she is to be pitied for her faith was not in Christ alone. It was mixture at best of faith and works,certainly not sola fide.

          Our appreciation of her charity should not blind us to what she was. Just becauses Pharisees make Saducees look good in comparison , does not make them good. The same goes for fundies and RC’s.

          To be critical of one , and to give the other a free pass when they are grossly in error is quite disturbing.

          My point was that it doesn’t matter which ditch the blind fall into, they are both deep.

          Mother Theresa and Jack Schaap are both to be pitied, not hated, and her errors were even greater than his theologically, whilst his are greater in other areas.

      5. It’s very easy to confuse motivations – one person says “He’s doing it for the love of the Lord,” another says “can’t work your way to salvation.” From the outside observer’s frame, it’s sometimes hard to tell what drives the person in question. I have no doubt that Teresa was more human than the plaster saint image portrayed in the media over the years; that doesn’t mean that she was in such confusion about the Faith that she was convinced that the gate to Salvation was through her works. Methinks the strawman has been kicked enough here.

  6. This one really hits close to home. My dad not only thinks the poor of the world get what they deserve, but rather enjoys the fact that problems in their societies tend to kill them off. 🙁

      1. It doesn’t work as a population control measure. Poor folk breed faster than they die off. So do every other kind of folk, but the poor are the subject here.
        In general (though exceptions abound), it is when people feel more economic security and have more education that they have fewer children per family.

      2. I think that is why the Fundies hate Dickens, if they look too closely they see themselves in Scrooge, and Scrooge in themselves. I know I did, and to a point still do. But the Fundie is pathologically afraid of the social gospel. It would mean getting out of the Bunker and meeting people where they are in society. That calls for real sacrifice that is not on their official tally sheet. 🙁

        And the programming is strong. Even when we do free ourselves of the Fundie prison we find we are still carrying around those chains we forged in the separated life. Mankind is our business, but we find we are still sitting in our counting house, miserly counting all our good deeds and congratualting ourselve for our spiritual pruity having not soiled ourselves with the reality of the world we live in.

        That is gnosis, what I know intuitively… but here I stand anchored in place, unable to move from this very mindset, not knowing how to become involved in the culture around me, because all I have ever known was the lie that was the fundie bunker. I find I am paralyzed to actually act upon these things I have put down in words. My deeds do not reflect the words I know to be truth. Heaven Help me.

        1. “Even when we do free ourselves of the Fundie prison we find we are still carrying around those chains we forged in the separated life. Mankind is our business, but we find we are still sitting in our counting house, miserly counting all our good deeds and congratualting ourselve for our spiritual pruity having not soiled ourselves with the reality of the world we live in.” Wow. Wow. Powerful stuff.

          I myself still feel a bit stifled, but our church is starting to reach out bit by bit, and that’s going to help me. I won’t be doing this alone, but learning to do it with my community group and others. (Also, we’re planning on finding programs already in place and joining them and working with them when we can, instead of starting up all our own stuff. We’re too small, for one thing, and for another, to do that might end up as just another way of staying isolated.)

        2. Now I’ll be quoting Dickens all day!

          I loooove Dickens–all of his works I have read.

          Especially his CHristmas Car5ol…as a child it was the closest thing to a conversion stroy I ever knew and had an impact on me.

          I love quoting lines from it all December LOL

        3. Jeri

          Really? I didn’t know that. He is very reminecent of Hitches and his like…who do share quite a few qualities in common with fundies.

        4. I hear you, Don. When we left fundyland, and began attending an Anglican church, I suffered from cognitive dissonance when I realized that they ministered in the community without regard for whether the recipients were worthy, or likely to become believers. It was as though we thought that our hypocrisy (we’re only helping you because we think you will [insert hidden agenda]) was not blatantly obvious.

        5. I know of a Catholic Charities organization in east Texas (where Catholics are a fairly small minority, and some Protestants are suspicious of them) that uses the motto, “We serve because of our faith, not because of yours.” I think they are mainly trying to get across the point that they provide services regardless of the clients’ religion (or lack of), but it also emphasizes that service to people in neeed is something Christians do because of God’s goodness, not in order to win converts.

  7. I always had second thoughts about this when Fundy missionaries (making fairly good salaries for the third-world countries in which they were “ministering”) presented their “ministries” to the “natives”.

    The people were living in complete poverty. The fundy missionaries showed “slides” of trips to historic sites and beaches, flannel-graph presentations to the children, walled compounds in which they (the missionaries) lived, and their “maid” who worked for them (“we can hire a maid here for pennies a day”). The most humanitarian thing the fundies could seem to do was ask for old clothes to be sent over for the “lost” (because that was the most offensive problem to the fundy–people not properly clothed. 😉 )

    1. Shipments of used clothing from richer countries to poor contries have actually had a devastating economic impact. In many nations (Africa and Latin America are the areas where I have data on this), local clothing manufacturing and marketing has been killed off by the ready availability of inferior, but cheaper, used clothing from abroad. In some places, the foreign clothing even has higher status because it comes from a place perceived as being rich, stylish, and glamorous.

      1. Too true. I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for pointing that out.

        The weirdest case I ever saw of someone wearing a “glamorous foreign shirt” was in rural Honduras. I met a man there who was wearing a Sons of Confederate Veterans shirt from MS.

        Many times as Americans, Christian or not, we look at foreign countries and decide what they need without consulting them. We are unaware that our generosity, goodhearted though it may be, is hurting the local economy and population.

        1. There’s an outside chance the man WAS a son of Confederate Veterans. After the Civil War, some Confederate supporters moved to Mexico, Central America, and South America, and their descendants still live there.
          It’s a long shot that he might be kin to them, but the irony is delicious.

      2. So what is your solution? I believe in recycling clothes. I grew up wearing hand me downs and so feel guilty if I throw away clothes someone could use. I always thought sending clothes to people in poorer countries was a good idea.

        1. I’m not so sure there is a clear-cut solution. In this world, things are seldom unambiguously right or wrong, and nothing is free– anything you do has economic and environmental costs, including a long chain of unintended consequences.

          Ultimately, changing the world’s economy to a more just system would change a lot of the underlying problems. But that’s not something an individual can do. I think that one of the thought disorders of American culture is that we tend to seek individual solutions to problems that are communal and need collective solutions. For example, carpooling might help reduce pollution and traffic congestion, but public transportation, and changes in the public policies that subsidize individual vehicles above mass transportation, would help much more.

  8. “You will always have the poor with you.”

    “What good would bread do for them if it allows them to continue their rejection of Christ?”

    “There are plenty of organizations they can go to and be helped, but they refuse.”

    All of those are ways Fundies articulate: I do not want to give to the poor.

    1. Who knew that Ebenezer Scrooge was a Fundy! his quote is even more troubling in context

      “Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.’

      ‘Are there no prisons?’ asked Scrooge.

      ‘Plenty of prisons,’ said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

      ‘And the Union workhouses.’ demanded Scrooge. ‘Are they still in operation?’

      ‘They are. Still,’ returned the gentleman,’ I wish I could say they were not.’

      ‘The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?’ said Scrooge.

      ‘Both very busy, sir.’

      ‘Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,’ said Scrooge. ‘I’m very glad to hear it.’

      ‘Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,’ returned the gentleman, ‘a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?’

      ‘Nothing!’ Scrooge replied.

      ‘You wish to be anonymous?’

      ‘I wish to be left alone,’ said Scrooge. ‘Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.’

      ‘Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.’

      ‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, ‘they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides-excuse me-I don’t know that.’”

      1. Yeah! That’s an amazingly telling passage.

        However, here’s what’s interesting to me: Scrooge’s position is seen as being the anti-Christian one! How sad that 100 years later, conservative Christians sound more like HIM. 🙁

        1. Arggh! No edit button! I shouldn’t have said “conservative Christian” because I am one myself. I should have said fundamentalist; however, they see themselves as the most accurate Biblically, the most faithful to Scripture, so it is sad that at least to them, the “correct” position to hold aligns more with Scrooge.

    1. Forget where I saw this, but read some atheist’s screed about believing it was more important to build a hospital than a church. While I disagree with his beliefs, he made some very good points about the importance of helping out our fellow human beings. 😉 Sometimes such reminders come from the least likely sources.

  9. I had a chance to go on a medical mission trip with the Franklin Graham group, Samaritan’s Purse when I was in IFB. I yielded to the pressure and didn’t go because of the “doctrinal stand” of Graham. I really regret that. 🙁

  10. Interesting. In my immigrant community here in Portland, Maine, I’m trying to organize a prisoner visiting program. Simply for human solidarity. Many (most) of those waiting to be deported are perfectly good people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The religious people I’ve contacted are not interested. UNLESS there are souls to gain. Not sure that qualifies for Matthew 25.

    1. Actually, it looks a lot like an neighborhood of Dallas where I once lived. If you go from a rich part of Dallas to a poor part, you’ll see as much contrast as if you go from Beverly Hills to Soweto. Maybe more.

  11. This post hit so close to home. Growing up, I was even hesitant to befriend people who weren’t clearly Christian, never mind help them. Typical fundyland attitude. In college, I had a break down and break through moment. My BSU went to a local zoo as a fun weekend trip, and we had a cookout. My roommate spotted a homeless man dumpster diving for food. We had plenty of food, so we went over and gave him some extra food. But we didn’t mention Jesus.

    It took me weeks of conversations and prayer to decide if that was wrong or not.

  12. I think this is a problem not just with fundy. My husband and I were candidates with MAF (non-denominational) while attending a SBC in TN. The Pastor grilled my husband about MAF’s doctrinal stance, and then refused to let the church support us because there wasn’t enough emphasis on soul-winning.

  13. One of our Spares And Pairs (that’s our Sunday School class of single people and young married people without kids) outings ran really late last Friday. We were bowling and there was a fire in the kitchen. The firetrucks blocked the church bus in and we couldn’t leave. I didn’t get home until after 10 o’clock! Anyway, we passed a couple of bars on the way home. I suppose they are the latest hot spots. You could see in the windows of one restaurant/bar and all the people were laughing and toasting. I couldn’t help but think how miserable they must be on the inside. Sure, there were friends and laughter, but it’s all meaningless because it happened in such a sin-filled environment. It’s not like being with your Sunday School class and laughing. We had a prayer for them on the bus before we started singing again. Mrs. Capwell wanted to give her husband some tracts to hand out, but the light turned green before she could get Mr. Capwell out the door. We also had a new girl who was waving at some people she knew. I hope it wasn’t a bad testimony to our church that someone was waving at a bar from our church bus.

  14. When I was moving into my house this weekend (picked the coldest weekend in recent memory to do it, but that’s another story) a guy wandered over just as we were wrapping up and explained he was roaming the streets, looking for odd jobs here and there since he just lost his. The remnant fundy in me wanted to assume he was just another bum looking for a few bucks for the next drink or shot of drugs, but thankfully that voice is a lot quieter than it used to be. My two pastors were there helping, and since we had a community center a few blocks away, told him to go over there – they’ve always got a list of “chores” that need to be done just for people looking for a quick buck, as well as a stocked pantry for the people that need food. No pressure, no preaching…it’s just a ministry of the church to the needy in our neighborhood. After all, God’s law stood in contrast to the other laws of the time in that God’s law was concerned more for the poor and defenseless in society, rather than keeping the powerful in power. How we treat the needy is a direct reflection of our view on the gospel. Weren’t we poor and needy at one point, and didn’t God extend grace and mercy to us in our most undeserving time?

    1. . How we treat the needy is a direct reflection of our view on the gospel. Weren’t we poor and needy at one point, and didn’t God extend grace and mercy to us in our most undeserving time? I am making that my facebook status I recently have had a burden for the poor and needy and as I look around I realize alot of charities are run by non religious people at least that is how it seems, shouldn’t Christians be leading the way in that area?

  15. You hit a nerve with this one, Darrell.

    ~After hurricane Katrina Jack Schaap preached a sermon at Jack Treiber’s conference about the gay-rights parade that had been held in Louisiana, Mardi Gras, and God pouring out His judgment.

    I was at Fundy U during September 11, 2001. Our college sent a team over to pass out gospel tracts. That’s it.

    Reminds me of Pat Robertson when he said Haiti was getting what they deserved last year because they had “made a pact with the devil.”

    This type of crap burns me up. I don’t even want to talk anymore because I get so upset with the lack of compassion in fundie circles. 😥

    1. OK, I’m thinking out loud about some of the reasons for this lack of compassion:

      1. self-focus: if it’s not happening to me or mine, I don’t care.
      2. greed and covetousness: if I give money to help someone else, I’ll have less money for myself.

      Those two reasons are so obviously unbiblical that no fundy would admit to them, but I do think they lie under some of the spiritual facade given to excuse a lack of compassion.

      3. laziness – a dislike of “getting one’s hands dirty,” preferring to study the Bible than actually put it into practice. Laziness might not be the right word here, maybe squeamishness.
      4. fear of looking like they’re approving sin: “if I help this person, maybe they’ll think I approve of their sin.” (This just happened to us. We had a baby shower for an unwed, teenage daughter of a divorced mom in our church, and an ex-member said, “So your church believes in that now?” No, we’re against premarital sex, but this family needs help and encouragement.)
      5. fear of keeping the unsaved from getting saved because if we meet their needs, they won’t turn to Jesus (as Darrell wrote above)
      6. fear of joining in with someone else who is not as “doctrinally pure” as we are
      7. fear of looking like a “social gospel liberal” instead of a fundamentalist: “I can’t do that or people will think I’m not a fundamentalist.”

      Not a pretty list: selfishness, greed, laziness, and fear.

      1. 8. (from my Dad) It’s a waste of money. There’s poor people today, there’ll be poor people tomorrow, even if they don’t waste it on pot/drugs some despot will confiscate it, and then they’ll come back for more money.

        I tried telling him about programs where no $$ is involved, just giving people wells for fresh water or material goods, and he said that some despot would simply take it anyway.

        1. sad thing is that your father tends to be right, am reminded of all the food and first aid sent to Ethiopia, most of which was seized and given to the army… 🙁
          doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help anyway

      2. The reason for their lack of compassion? It’s simple. Because ti is based on mere, copyable externals, Christian Fundamentalism appeals to sociopaths and offers them the only version of Christianity that they can comprehend: behavior and externals. So, of course, Christian Fundamentalism is full of sociopaths. And that’s why it lacks compassion.

        1. You definately called that one. Funny because I was googling that last night. I am a psych student and had a friend who said her ex-husband was a sociopath. I happened to be researching APD last night just for grins because of her, and at the same time was recalling my fundy days (what can I say, I have ADD tendencies) and the two suddenly clicked together in my head.

          And based on what I observed during my time as a fundy, the shoe fits.

        2. Thanks for this comment, it helped me make a little better sense of something I’ve thought for a while, i.e., that fundamentalism and evangelicalism attract narcissists in the clinical sense – people who literally can’t empathize with anyone else and who can only see things from their point of view. The best someone with full blown narcissistic personality disorder can do is go through the external motions of empathizing or being considerate – and even then only because of social convention or because they see some benefit to themselves from doing so.

          It makes total sense that a narcissist would be drawn to and thrive in a culture that so emphasizes external conformity. Another piece of it, I think, is that fundy notions of sin, guilt, and obligation line up very well with how the narcissist sees the world – no one is ever as perfect as they are, everyone is doing them wrong in some way, it’s all about what people owe to them. So these doctrines become powerful tools that a narcissist can exploit to manipulate people into doing what they want, or to deny responsibility for their bad behavior.

    2. I’e heard that “Gay Rights March **** spouted by a number of Christians, including one in my own church, so it’s not just Fundies. It seems that Katrina arrived just in time to save the city from real disaster….

        1. No. I wasn’t a ‘King’ when I went to HAC. And my first name has been altered to preserve the identity of the writer, lest any fundies stalk me and come across this. 😛

  16. This phenomenon isn’t confined to Protestant fundies, it infests Catholic fundies too. Christopher Hitchens has done extensive research and written a biography of Mother Teresa “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice”

    From a Slate web site article: http://www.slate.com/id/2090083:
    MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

    And from a review of the book on Amazon:
    One key witness is Susan Shields, who wrote about her experience in Free Inquiry Magazine (Vol. 18 no. 1, Winter 1997/1998). Shields was a sister in the Missionaries of Charity. She lived with them in the Bronx, Rome, and San Francisco. According to Shields, the philosophy that guided the Missionary Sisters both considered suffering a virtue and strongly discouraged attachments of any kind to the people served. The inevitable result of this combination was an indifference to human suffering. If suffering is good, and if feeling emotional responses toward the patients is bad, then any uncomfortable emotions that may arise from witnessing their suffering must be quickly switched off. This makes true compassion difficult if not impossible.

    The Missionary Sisters were not bad people. Most of them meant well. They tried their best to be obedient, and did not know that the great bulk of donations their order received remained hidden unused in Mother’s bank accounts. Shields knows this because one of her assigned tasks was recording those donations. “We wrote receipts for checks of $50,000 and more on a regular basis,” she reports.

    Since poverty was also considered a virtue, little of that money could be spent either on the order or on the patients. As Shields tells us: “Mother was very concerned that we preserve our spirit of poverty. Spending money would destroy that poverty. She seemed obsessed with using only the simplest of means for our work. Was this in the best interests of the people we were trying to help, or were we in fact using them as a tool to advance our own `sanctity?’ In Haiti, to keep the spirit of poverty, the sisters reused needles until they became blunt. Seeing the pain caused by the blunt needles, some of the volunteers offered to procure more needles, but the sisters refused.”

    Hitchens quotes parts of Shields’ unpublished manuscript, but her article in Free Inquiry may easily be found online and is worth reading in full.

    1. I’ve tried to tell some of this to people who idolize Mother Teresa, to no avail. Popular myth has declared her a saint, and a saint she will remain in popular opinion.

      My view of her was turned upside down when I heard that her hospices, at least in some cases, gave no medicine to dying people, not even painkillers. She offered the poor a clean place to die, and that was about it.
      Her theology said that suffering was itself holy, and she wasn’t about to interfere with people’s opportunities to suffer.
      This strikes me as an idolatry– it puts suffering in the place of love.

        1. Yes, I am not saying that your information is false, but the problem I have is with the sources. Hitches, what is his MO: to reveal the truth or tear down MT and hence, her faith? I need to do more research on the matter by reading MT writings directly and seeking other sources. But this has piqued my interest…hmm.

        2. Hitchens is a self-professed atheist, and even something of an anti-religious activist. But his case against Mother Theresa should be evaluated on the facts, not on Hitchen’s own personality (that would be the “ad hominen” fallacy).
          As far as I know, no one has seriously refuted the major factual charges Hitchens made about Mother Theresa. In his writing, the documented facts are pretty easily distinguished from his own opinions. I’m not especially interested in whether or not he likes Mother Theresa, but I am interested in the question of how much good Theresa did or did not do for the poor. In addition to her charity work, she had a reactionary political and theological agenda that I am very much opposed to, and I think it has benefitted (especially in Catholic circles) from the reverence people have for her as a person.
          And what DID become of all that money people donated to her and the Missionary Sisters?

        3. I must say that I have my share of problems with Catholicicism, but this information about MT and the missionary sisters is mindblowing, I really and truly had no idea! I appreciate all of you that have commented, I have recd an education, and will definitely be looking into this further.

        4. “Yes, I am not saying that your information is false, but the problem I have is with the sources. Hitches, what is his MO: to reveal the truth or tear down MT and hence, her faith?”

          Hitchens doesn’t say what he has to say just because it’s fun, or he’s bored, or doesn’t have anything better to do. If he has a reason for saying what he says…aren’t those reasons worth considering?

          If Hitchens wants to “tear down” MT’s faith, I imagine it’s because that faith perpetuates absurd things like making suffering and poverty a virtue. If your belief system perpetuates absurdities or even inhumanity, I daresay it is Hitchens’ and everyone else’s duty to criticize that belief system to the extent of their power to do so.

  17. To the sinner, misery is punishment but to the Fundy, misery is god’s testing and trial to make you a stronger warrior for him. Funny how this application works, no?

    1. One of my pastors once said there are the obviously poor (i.e., economically poor), and then there are those who don’t know they are poor. Jesus dealt with both kinds of poor– lepers, beggars, and so forth in the first group, and Pharisees, Sadducees, and young rulers, etc. in the second group. He seems to have had a more optimistic view of the prospects for salvation of the first group than the second.

  18. I think about the story of the ten lepers. Ten were healed but only one came back to say thank you. Did Jesus say “I’ll heal you but only if you promise to follow me” ..??..

    By the way, weren’t at least some of those ten lepers Samaritans ?

  19. This post of yours, Darrell, really strikes home for me today.

    I have recently been pondering my desire to go to the Ukraine and work in an orphanage, possibly with special needs children (or any, actually, since they are all special). I wouldn’t be doing anything fancy, probably just cleaning, feeding, and guiding little ones. I want to go serve, but not under the guise of a missions agency. I do not need any confusion as to what God is calling me to do, and I’m not asking for their support, either.

    However, my parents are not particularly happy about this, because they simply cannot see me going to “help” anyone without blatantly being a missionary. No matter how much I say to them that my ultimate goal is to show the love of Christ to children, they just don’t like the unofficiality (is that a word?) of it.

    It will be tough if I actually carry through. I never thought I would be “that” offspring, the one that everyone is praying for and all spiritually-concerned about because I’m “getting into all that social gospel stuff.” I don’t understand how it’s okay to help those in need over here, but not over there without an official mandate from a church.

    Anyhoo, just sharing. Great post. 🙂

    1. My husband and I are being accused of being into the “social gospel stuff” too. It hurts to be misunderstood, especially by other believers. Sometimes the hardest thing to do in following God is ignoring the complaints of family members and church friends who disagree with you. I think part of this is what Jesus meant when He said you had to “hate” your family to follow Him. Also, remember when Jesus was preaching and His family came and called to Him to come out to them and He wouldn’t. He said those who listened to Him were His family.

      One of the benefits of being in a missions agency would be the support and fellowship of others. It would be easier on you if you knew of other believers or a local church where you could fellowship and be encouraged while you were there. But I see nothing wrong with serving. Actually it fits in well with Matthew 25:31-46. No words there about having to be part of an official missions agency.

      God bless you as you make these decisions. Don’t let naysayers dim your joy or your confidence once you are sure of how God is leading you.

    2. This is near and dear to my heart. My husband and I have adopted children out of orphanages and with special needs as well. Cleaning, feeding and guilding, although it may not be “fancy,” is just what the little ones need. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the father, it this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27 If this is where your heart is leading you, GO. I believe you will be richly blessed. I know we have. Those children will see the love of Christ in you whether you are wearing the missionary label or not. I really hope you decide to go. I am a little envious that you have the opportunity. It is something that I have always wanted to do, but my kiddos are little and need me at home for now. Keep us posted.

    3. whadda’ ya mean? you want to go somewhere without officially being sent by a sanctioning body and be outside the covering of the local church? you can’t do that! the local church has to approve it there miss beckyboo, getting a might big for them cullottes dontcha’ think?? 😯 😉

      1. that is the fundie way to say too big for your britches isn’t it? 🙄 Where did we come up with this Idea that you have to do everything through the local church? Why does anyone else have to sanction what you have the gift, ability and calling to do?

        1. I don’t know where it came from, especially since in almost every other area I am encouraged to “do what’s right, no matter what anyone thinks!”

          I’m glad you came up with a “higher road” way of saying “Too big for your britches.” Seems to me like saying the latter could lead someone to some inappropriate thoughts and stuff. I will have to remember that for future use…haha. 🙂

        2. “Where did we come up with this Idea that you have to do everything through the local church?”

          Imagine what would happen if people took their tithes and gave them directly to the charities of their choice instead of a local church. The church wouldn’t be feeding any jobless, screeching blowhards anymore or keep the lights on in a building that houses no one. The charities would suddenly start having a LOT more money to get things done… Chaos, I tell you! :mrgreen:

    4. I believe this would be called tentmaker missions; where you just go and live and have a job and ‘be’ Christ for those who need Him. We are His hands and feet and those hands should be outstretched and those feet walking.

  20. This post reminds of a guy where I grew up called Vico C who is a “gangster rap” star turned Christian. He wrote a song a few years ago called “Me Desahogo” which means “I’m Venting”. One of my favorite parts of the song goes something like this (I’m translating from Spanish, BTW):

    In Spanish:

    Mi hermano usted que dice ser cristiano
    Cuando vez un vagabundo por que no le das la mano?
    Le dices de lejitos Dios te bendiga
    Pero no sacas ni un pesito para llenarle la barriga
    Mira! Te están mirando desde arriba
    El evangelio no se trata de gastar saliva
    Si quieres que te escuchen tienes que darles vida
    Y dale un buen abrazo al que este muriendo de SIDA

    In English:

    My brother, you who calls yourself a Christian
    When you see a homeless guy on the street, why won’t you give him a hand?
    From afar you say “God Bless You”
    but you won’t even give him a dollar to fill his belly.
    Look! Someone’s watching from above.
    The Gospel is not about just wasting your spit.
    If you want them to listen to you, you must give them life,
    and a good hug, even if they are dying of AIDS.

    The translation doesn’t rhyme like in Spanish, but I think you get the idea. Unfortunately, I don’t think a single fundy will ever hear this song because it’s that evil rap music.

    1. That’s awesome!

      I’m convicted too by Chris Sligh’s song “Only You Can Save”:

      I saw a man today, his whole world across his back,
      A living monument opposed to my success.
      I tried to look into his eyes as his shuffled past my car,
      Sweat beading on his skin, his clothes and hair a mess.
      As the light turned green and I pulled away, he slowly disappeared,
      Just a memory of another chance I failed to show your love here.

      I wanna love because You love
      I wanna give because You gave
      I wanna reach my hand out to the lost
      because I know Your hand can save
      Only You can save

      Sometimes I have to wonder if I really want to know
      The struggle and the pain that others feel.
      Do I want to hear the stories I see echoed in their eyes
      Or is this love I say that I’m reflecting even real?
      As the light turns on inside my head and I slowly disappear
      I steel myself cuz what you call for me is to show your love here…

  21. The pastor at my parents’ church always says (and I do mean always – I think I’ve heard him mention this in every sermon of his, and once at lunch), that he won’t feed a person who asks him for food or money unless they come to church first. “Feed the soul, THEN feed the body,” he says. I don’t recall Jesus ever saying anything of the sort!

    a Fundy church I used to attend had a food pantry where they’d give food out to anyone who came in who needed some, no questions asked. That church had at least one thing going for them, I guess.

      1. I would really like to ask the fundies:- Did Jesus only heal the Righteous Synagogue-Goer? Did he get his disciples to ask each of the 5000 how often they went to the Synagogue or Temple? It’s a retorical question of course but I hope they don’t have a hammer and nails handy, or I would be crucified, literally…

  22. On a parallel to the above, I remember how often it was drilled into me that if you leave, You Will Be Miserable. Tons of apocryphal stories about people who had left the way and their lives fell apart. But I looked outside the bubble and saw that that just wasn’t true. And I stepped outside the bubble and found out the air wasn’t poison at all. In fact, I’m happier than I ever was in Fundyland.

    I get so aggravated when Fundies think they have all the answers just because by sheer luck they were born into the majority in a land of plenty. Never once would they think “there but by the grace of God go I.” It doesn’t occur to them.

    1. Your story reminds me of the chain letters I’ve gotten that said, “Sheila Y sent copies of this letter to 25 friends, and the next day she inherited $25,000. Poor Bob X broke the chain, and a week later his mother died and his house caught fire.”

      So far, I’ve broken every one of those “chains” that has come to me, and I’m still alive to tell of it. As to what would have happened if I had sent the letter on, I can’t say.

    2. Yes! Who else has heard the stories of someone withdrawing from HAC (or any other fundy U) or leaving a church, and then dying in a tragic accident shortly after?

      It has a frightening affect on the mind. It’s the main reason it took me until my 23 to leave, when I knew I would eventually since my early teens.

      I left by enlisting so I’d get out of town, have a roof over my head and have a fresh start. The plane ride to boot camp, every time they hit turbulance I’d wonder if it was going to crash because I had left.

        1. Actually, I just blanked out. I don’t remember which one it is. Maybe I was right the first time. Gah! Long day.

        2. You meant “effect”: It has a frightening effect.

          effect (noun) = result
          affect (noun) = feeling or emotional state, especially as evidenced externally

          effect (verb) = bring into existence
          affect (verb) = influence, change

        3. Actually, both “effect” and “affect” can be either nouns or verbs, but the meanings are different. See above.

  23. The following quote, from a post on the Internet Monk”, a site some of you frequent, sums up one of the main things the fundies just do not grasp:

    Jesus is not a self-help guru. He is not interested in you becoming a better person. He could not care less with you improving in any area of your life. Because in the end that is your life. Yours. And he demands you give it to him. All of it. An unconditional surrender. He did not come to improve you, or encourage you, or spur you on to bigger and better things. He came to raise the dead. And if you insist on living, then you’re on your own. Good luck. Sign up for all the seminars, workshops and marriage improvement weekends that you can, because you’re going to need them.

    The Gospel is this: We are dead in our sins. Jesus, too, is dead in our sins. But because he is very God of very God, death could not hold him. He conquered sin and death and rose again. And the only life we are now offered is the life he lives in us. Period. He wants us dead. He’ll do the rest.

  24. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all of Darrell’s posts and I’ve got to say that even though today’s was concise I consider it among the best. I can remember hearing this point of view being promoted growing up.

    I’ve been visiting churches other than those of the Baptist persuasion and have been shocked at the amount of effort that is put into local and national charities. They don’t even have to be “christian” for these churches to help. The fundies seem to think that in order to stay “pure” they have to do their own car washes, food drives, etc. so that they don’t become soiled working elbow to elbow with those that might be (God forbid) Presbyterian! Or Lutheran! Or Catholic!

    Never let it be said that a fundy volunteer at a soup kitchen or repair somebody’s house in the inner-city without an evangelist on hand ready to steamroll everyone with “5 points and a poem” 😉

  25. Let’s not forget probably the biggest reason why fundies abstain from any community service — It is what liberal churches do not want to be associated with liberals…

  26. Here’s the rub after I sat thinking about the pic Darrell chose as well as the thought provoking word picture:

    When I arrived in Bible College in August of 84 and every Saturday thereafter, our Christian Service requirement was served in the Boston ghettos (Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, et al.) but NEVER in the more wealthy neighborhoods Cambridge, Beacon Hill, Backbay, Chestnut Hill, Brookline (where all the hot Jewish chicks lived) and the like. So, thinking about it for a moment, I figured people (and more importantly, Bible College students) will go where they aren’t intimidated and feel somewhat superior….the ghettos. What Darrell said was true, you go to the drunks, the bums, the projects because they “obviously” need the Gospel….you suck up to the wealthy because they have the money.

    1. Dorchester is a ghetto? I used to live there. A street down to the right off of Dorchester Ave. Dorchester ave by Carnegy Hospital. One off the best days of summer is the Dorchester Day parade. i heard Mattapan is pretty bad and getting worse. My dadwas a cop in Cambridge for at least 20 years.

      1. Phil,
        The school was actually in Hyde Park, just down the street from the Howard Johnsons mansion…maybe a five minute drive was Matapan station…At that particular time, Dorchester was almost as bad as Southie…It was nothing to pull into Andrews station and the black kids would be on one side while the white Irish kids on the other side of the station, both taunting each other. In spite of all that foolishness, I liked Boston.

  27. This comes out explicitly in Nouthetic Counseling. One of the stated reasons for opposing psychology is that it gives people a “false” sense of happiness and detracts from their sense of sin. I happen to agree, to a point, that handing out happy pills like candy enables people to avoid making real substantive change in their lives. Many psychologists also agree. But it seems some Christians take it a level that is very dark.

    I’ve also seen it come out in arguments against providing condoms to teenagers: “They NEED to pay the price for their sins.”

    1. EC,
      It’s just like Nouthetic counselors to refer to medications as “happy pills” as if it was soley a means of escape. If I didn’t have my “happy pills” (which just prohibit seretonin reuptake at a rapid rate) my life and outlook would be so dark and scary…these guys are such idiots.

      1. “Happy Pills” is my term; I don’t believe I’ve heard a preacher use the term. There are plenty of good reasons to take psych meds. There are also too many doctors handing them out like candy– usually general practitioners with no specialized training is psychiatry. Jay Adams, on the other hand, believes psychiatrists aren’t necessary, because the only problems that should be treated with meds are “genuine” physical problems and those are best treated by a regular M.D.

        The issue is that the vast majority of pastors are not qualified to make the call. It doesn’t matter if he’s an untrained preacher in a holiness church in Butt Creek, Kentucky… or if he’s president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They just don’t know.

        1. Problems like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia ARE physical problems. They have organic causes. They are also mental/emotional/family/work problems, but their physical origin, and the possibility of physical treatment (such as drugs) should not be dismissed.

    2. You know, I’d been wondering why Nouthetic counselors make me uneasy. Any more insights? My mom and dad have gotten involved in that, and I don’t like how it’s changing them. My mom seems so judgmental and condemning.

  28. I know that the OP and discussions deal primarily with poverty and suffering in evangelization efforts of the lost. But I want to also point out that this same mindset prevails among fundamental Christians towards other fundamental Christians who have fallen upon hard times. My family and I experienced this first-hand in the Mecca of fundamentalism in South Carolina.

    My husband unexpectedly lost his job and we had a rather large family to feed and a commensurately large house to upkeep. As a help to our situation I found work at the large local fundy U. Our situation was dire for quite awhile and was compounded by an unfortunate accident at said fundy U with one of our children which required a lot of “out of pocket” expense and focus of attention. My husband was also a leader in the local church.

    I think this presented the uber fundies with a situation they absolutely did not know how to handle. The prevailing attitude I heard was “Farbeit from us to get between you and God’s punishment to you for your ‘sins.'” After my friend was visibly shaken at one aspect of our suffering, she actually said these words “Oh well, I know I don’t have to worry about it. God is in control, and if you are supposed to be helped, he’ll do it. You are right were God wants you.”

    Good things did happen through it though. This was the catalyst to our leaving fundamentalism and we have been amazed at the care our “liberal” church shows to those in need. There seem to be no qualifications except need for help. I love that. And we are still alive–we made it through that difficult part of our journey. But how sad that God’s people at fundy U and fundy church had plenty of judgment for us, but for the most part had no idea how to actually help.

      1. Thank you TomK. I believe you are right about Job’s friends being fundamentalists. Interesting–I hadn’t remembered it until just now, but one of my friends did apologize to me for acting like “Job’s friend” to me. I had a lot of those kinds of friends, I’m afraid.

        But, you know, I think that’s what happens when we are fed a steady diet of formulaic living type philosophy: “If you do this, then God has to bless you” kind of thing. So then if you aren’t being blessed (or it doesn’t appear you are being blessed) then the inverse is inferred: “You must be doing or have done something to deserve God’s punishment.”

        I’m trying not to be too hard on the people who failed me–they were just people. But when they deigned to speak for God to me, they inflicted mortal wounds. Certainly the whole experience has colored my view on suffering and what my role in alleviating it is.

    1. AbyG,
      Amazing how the “liberals” are the ones to respond at the drop of a hat, huh? While the “doctrinally correct, here after refered to as ‘DC’ ” are quick to cast your position in a bad light because it alliviates (sp)them from the obligation to help. You have to wonder, is God more pleased when you tithe or when you see a brother or sister hungry, naked or in need and simply say “God bless you! Be ye warmed and filled”? (Ja. 2:14-20 Any Version)

      1. So true. I’m sure it’s been discussed, but “separation” factors into all this madness. We can make up so many reasons why not to get involved. One time the pastor of my church told me that he could not possibly protest anything even abortion because he might have to stand beside a Catholic. Yes, he said that. There are a lot of Catholics in my town. I would be honored to stand beside one of them these days.

    2. Yes, I know what you mean. Whenever anything bad happens to anyone my mom says, “God is trying to get their attention.” It seems to me a callous thing to say. Besides, if god was trying to get someone’s attention, since He’s loving, wouldn’t he pick a less cruel method than making something bad happen to them?

  29. We really don’t know what poor is. How about eating corn meal for a few months straight because you can’t afford rice. How about going over a year with one dress and no shoes while working as a servant. Having no hope, no future, only where the next meal is coming from. I have seen it first hand. I have no problem sending money overseas to support several families just so they can think of something other than their next meal. Do we criticize but do the same as others?

    1. Growing up, I thought my family was poor. We lived in a fairly affluent neighborhood, and everybody around us seemed to have a lot more money than we did. Later, I got to know much poorer people, and so I thought I knew about poverty. I knew people without a roof over their heads, and who sometimes went without food. But then I read that people in Haiti were selling cakes made of dirt– yes, dirt– to people who couldn’t afford bread. *Selling* dirt cakes to other people to eat. This was before the recent earthquake. The majority of Hatians are even worse off now. So I’ve never experienced, or even seen, poverty like that.

    2. One of my favorite charities is The Heifer Project. The stories in their magazine are stunning. Picture this: Family of three. Middle-aged mom, school-aged son, and school-aged daughter who has some genetic condition that keeps her undersized, lying down, and unable to speak. It could be something that some basic intervention early in life could have helped. No chance of that. They live on the edge of some rich guy’s coffee plantation at the end of a trail up the hill from a dirt road that eventually leads to some little tin-roofed town. Their tiny one-roomed house has only three walls so the heat doesn’t stifle them. They live their lives without privacy in a cluster of similar little houses. The boy goes to school even if the mom has to go without eating to pay for his uniform and supplies, because going to school is his one chance to get out. Every day, the mom puts her daughter ON HER BACK, because there is no child care–everyone fit to look after a child is working to survive. She hangs a coffee sack on her front. She climbs up and down slopes that are treacherous with roots and pricker bushes. When the sack is full of coffee, she stops for the day, because she is physically spent and out of time. That sack of coffee beans is their sole income. With it she keeps her family (except for her) fed and clothed and the son in school. It pays crap.

      All she needs from the Heifer Project, she says, is a flock of chickens. Her village is so damn dirt poor that nobody has CHICKENS. If she had a flock of chickens and a rooster, she would have the family’s protein needs covered without spending money she really needs for her son’s school costs or time she doesn’t have cultivating several acres of beans, somehow, on the steep hillside by her hut. She might even be able to sell the extra eggs in town.

      Oh, and a donkey would be nice. If she had a donkey, she would still carry her daughter, but she could put four sacks on the donkey and fill them all with coffee. And she might delay her inevitable physical breakdown long enough that her son will be a position to care for his sister.

      So the Heifer Project gives her her donkey and her chickens, and get this: A few years down the road, everybody in her village has chickens too. Or the local Fundie missionary comes up the hill in his nice clothes and tells her that before he will lift one finger to help her, she has to agree to come to his church and cut herself off from her Catholic neighbors and friends. And leaves a tract. And probably wrinkles his nose at her house.

      1. I would like to put a little balance in here. There is no way a missionary can go to some of these fields and do what you are talking about. Many Fundamental missionaries live in the poorest spots on the earth for 20 to 30 years. They help the local people and economy in many ways. Many have schools medical centers and other things. I think the humorous part is when they come home, put on their suits and do the USA show. One thing a missionary can never say is they have a maid and a driver and a gardener. What do you think about that????? Maybe there heart broke for someone and that is the way they help them. In many countries $30.00 a month is alot. I am not a missionary and I never have been. Some do go and live in the best sections of town etc.. But many do not. The culture engulfs them not vice versa. Look at the ones that stay, give them credit. The joke here is on us, not the missionaries. There are no poor here in America!!!!!

      2. Jenny, how does that mother feed the chickens, when she doesn’t even have enough food for herself and her children?

        I think the Heifer Project is a very good work (although I know some vegetarian activists who think it’s terrible because it promotes meat eating), but I do wonder how people with such precarious lives can afford to support animals. What stops them from selling off the new chickens, pigs, or whatever, the first time there’s a family emergency (and people at that economic level have emergencies constantly)?

        NewJohn, there are no poor in America??? You should spend some time here in south Texas (I live in what’s said to be the poorest county in the U.S.) before you say that. Or just across the river, in northern Mexico. Some people here have no electricity or gas, only contaminated water to drink, and what are euphemistically called houses located in places that flood every time there’s a storm. Of course, there are places in the world where most people are poorer than the poorest people here. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have many poor people of our own. I’m not talking about being able to afford cable TV and a new car: my definition of not being poor is that you have a warm, dry place to sleep year-round, and enough nourishing food to keep you healthy. Lots of people here lack those things.

        1. I was one of the poor in America. We lived in a tumble down trailer,with out running water,often without heat,it wasn’t uncommon to not know when our next meal would be. We lived about 30 miles from anything that could claim to be a town,a significant problem when there is no car or public transportation. Are there people worse off? Of coarse. Didn’t make it easier for us to be cold or hungry. I have often heard people say there are no poor in America; I have come to feel it is often an excuse not to help those right in front of us. There must be a reason they are poor in America in this day and age,sin,drugs,irresponsible,let’s help the innocent poor overseas. I am not saying this is where NewJohn was coming from,just that I have heard this view in various churches. Shortly before my husband and I left our church,we were asked why we had failed to tithe. My husband innocently answered that we had given directly to a family member in need, pastor was upset and informed us God cones first,help family with what if any is left. We left.

        2. Old-fashioned breeds of chicken can feed themselves in a tropical environment. The mother has to keep them penned to keep the predators away and move the pen every so often to let them forage somewhere fresh, plus provide water in a pan. Luckily the pen can be built from sticks gathered from the forest and some cordage. Or she can just let them wander, although that will mean that some chickens are eaten by predators and others hide their eggs too effectively.

  30. The pastor of the fundy church I use to attend was a former businessman. The guy knew business. He was from the camp of the major bible colleges here in the West. Every opportunity the man had…rather than help the poor and needy, it would be a “building fund, or parking lot fund, or roof fund, or new hardwood floors fund, or central heating fund, or build for the future fund, or new nursery fund.

    Point being, the church was more inundated with putting together banquets where “wealthy” families would be invited so that these “funds” could eventually be met. Yes, you may call it a “Thanksgiving Banquet” and show a homemade salvation video…but the main focus was to get the families “saved” and into the “church” to start tithing and giving to all the various funds. The several weeks before those banquets, door to door soulwinning would be done in richer neighborhoods with much nicer homes. “Don’t forget to invite them out to the banquet”….

    How would the church answer Jesus asks them: “How have you taken care of the poor and needy? Did you have a banquet for them?”

        1. I seem to keep quoting from this book, but Christine Wicker says in “The Fall of the Evangelical Nation” that many “megachurches” are failing precisely because of such programs, with their ever-increasing appetites for cash. In business terms, you can only grow so much before you’ve saturated your market. “The Crystal Cathedral,” which is often called the original megachurch, declared bankruptcy last year.

  31. I used to always wonder why my church and Christian school never, or very rarely, had any charitable or community service type of things. My school sent packages to soldiers two years in a row and once collected can foods. In the seven years I was there, that’s all I can remember us doing. How sad!

    Now that I’m in college, I want to be able to help people. I make more money than some families do. I’m very blessed with food, loving friends and family, and a warm place to sleep with plenty of blankets. I realize that most of the world is far less fortunate. We all go through hard times and suffering, but for some people, suffering is their life.

    These posts were very thought-provoking and convicting.

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