Giving the Poor Hell

Chucking compassionate conservatism, Republicans have
declared war on the poor in America, says Joe Conason of Salon.com.

With legislative maneuvering designed to punish and deprive the least fortunate among us -- working people at the lower end of the American economy and their children -- the Republicans don't seem to be upholding the caring Christian ideals often proclaimed by the President. They're pushing down wages, snatching away tax credits and food stamps, slashing Medicaid and children's health insurance, and removing bankruptcy protections from families that suffer medical catastrophes. But they're extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, and making sure that those bankruptcy laws still protect the richest deadbeats.

Conason blames all of this on "the most literal interpretation of Old Testament law" -but that's where he's mistaken. The Old Testament could be subtitled, "Mess with the Poor and Risk the Wrath of God," because at ever turn, God seems to make provision for the poorest citizens of Israel. God forbade charging interest (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36, 37, Deuteronomy 23:19), or even making a profit off the food sold to poor people (Leviticus 25:37); commanded his people to give generously to the poor (Deuteronomy 15), to leave the gleanings of their fields for the poor (Leviticus 19:10), and to note take advantage of people because they are poor (Deuteronomy 24:14).

Perhaps the religious right is not so religious after all.


Let us Keep the Feast

Religion reporters get lots of odd press releases, but this one from the Episcopal Office of Communications takes the cake. It's about a new enviromental initiative called "FEAST," which stands for "Faith, Environment, Action, Science, Technology." Why exactly this initiative has been planned for the season of Easter is not exactly clear. Even less clear is the closing line of the press release: "Underscoring the importance of individual and corporate responsibility for preserving the abundance of God's creation, the online forum will also echo the familiar liturgical response: 'Therefore, let us keep the FEAST.'"

All fine and dandy. Except that the line, "therefore let us keep the feast" come from First Corinthians--"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast”--and refers to the crucified Jesus in the eucharist.

Either someone wasn't paying attention, or there's some very interesting theology going on here.


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