blip : Blog of Isaac & Jason :

bush in NC

November 9th, 2003 by isaac · No Comments

President Bush gave us a visit here in North Carolina a few days ago. The state is going through some pretty hard economic times . I guess Bush wanted to offer some hope to the multitude of Carolinians who are losing jobs all over the place. Instead of offering some tangible hope he offered nothing of substance, he offered a pie in the sky to a people who don’t have their daily bread.

Let me tell you where i am coming from. Right now we have three people staying with us at the Rutba House who have experienced first-hand the economic decline in North Carolina. We invited Ronnie to move into our back room over two months ago. I can testify to his persistent search for a job. He wants to work more than anything. Day after day he rides the bus around town applying for jobs and checking in at places that already have his application. He works with a temp agency whenever they give him a call, but those jobs are few and far between. The man is able to work and wants to work but there is nothing.

Now consider Pablo and Chris. Two months ago they rode a Greyhound bus to Durham down from Chicago. They weren’t able to make it in Chicago due to the high cost of living and a poor job market. They heard it cost less to live in Durham and that the job market was better so they decided to give it a shot. After two months, nothing. They are staying on our futon in the study for the next week before they make the 27 hour greyhound trip back to Chicago.

“People who have lost work should have hope,” Bush said, “the economy is growning, new jobs are being created.” Well, who exactly is creating these jobs? Bush spoke about this incorporeal hope at a technical college over in Winston-Salem where the people are feeling severe effects of the declining textile market (FYI: Did you know Winston-Salem is the birthplace of Krispy Kreme Dounuts?). In August Pillowtex, a major textile corporation, shut down leaving 5,500 North Carolina residents without jobs. To these people Bush says, “The economy is growing, new jobs are being created.” John Emrich, chief executive of Guilford Mills, replies, “It is very frustrating to be ignored.”

Later in the same article, i stumbled across a disturbing revelation: “Bush’s message likely didn’t win over some 300 activists who gathered a few blocks from the Benton Convention Center, where the president was expected to raise $1.1 million for his re-election campaign.” This is so offensive. Bush offers nothing tangible to the plight of the unemployed then turns around and takes a million dollars from NC for his election campaign. Is his election campaign more important than putting that million dollars to work in a desparate state?

You may be saying to yourself, “Isaac, that is just the way the electoral system works. Candidates need money to run.” Well maybe there is something wrong with the system then. The church should commission some of its members who know the system (politicians, lawyers, etc.) to use their gifts for justice. How can we participate in an presidential electoral process that forces candidates to spend so much money to win our vote? The King to whom we Christians pledge our allegiance at baptism and remember at the eucharist calls us to care for the poor not support the use of money poured into someone’s quest for power. As Christians we must be faithful to the leadership of our King by serving as priests and servants in his Kingdom (Rev. 1:6). When our King tells us to use our talents for the kingdom we better reconsider what we are supporting with our vote.

Maybe we North American Christians should listen a little more to the voice of James:

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have horded wealth in the last days. Look! the wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You fattened yourself in the day of slaughter. (5:1-5)

Those words sting. The North American church is extremely wealthy when compared to the global church. We must examine our use of worldly riches for selfish, earthly gain. But the point is not for guilt to overwhelm us to the point of dehibilitation. We must not wallow in our shameful riches. Paul instucts Timothy on how to deal with the rich in the church. His exhortation applies as much to our church as it did to theirs:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Paul commands us to share with those who don’t have much. Apparently our brother president Bush is wasting his time feasting with the rich folk at lunch when he should be going around to the North Carolina churches exhorting them to share their wealth with those who are losing their jobs. Jesus is not a fan of investing in the way people of the world exercise power (Matt. 20:25-28). We should call Bush to use his power for heavenly good not for corrosion that will “eat [our] flesh like fire.” Let us start to “take hold of the life that is truly life” by using our wealth for the only thing it is good for, generously sharing. And we should reconsider our support of an electoral system where so much money is wasted on buying votes.

Tags: kingdom naturalists