Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Re-thinking "poor-ness"

Two ideas I've recently encountered that might get some discussion going about what it means to be "poor."

First, Jeff White of New Song Community Church in New York city recently spoke at a conference called
A Conversation on Denominational Renewal in St. Louis (click here to find audio for all of the talks from that conference). All of Jeff's talk was great (as were the rest of them), but one thing he said stood out as an interesting idea: Jeff said he would like to expunge the church of the term "mercy ministry" because to extend mercy in a biblical sense means to give someone a second chance even though they don't deserve it, and this does not apply to poor people in most ways.

Second, the humor blog
Stuff White People Like did an interesting post called, "#62: Knowing what's best for poor people." A big idea from the post: "It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education that all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things." And, as is apparent to these bloggers, making "the right choices" and caring "about the right things" are, in white people's minds, always identical to what white people (in this case, upper-middle class white people) choose and care about.

Both of these ideas, in their own way, represent challenges to the way I think about the poor and those in need. What do you think about these quotes and ideas?

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