Affluence and Poverty

I was thinking today about affluence and poverty.  Actually I was thinking about rich vs. poor.  I thought about how sad it is that we think about these people as two opposites on a coin.  We are all people and our worth is not measured by our wealth.

Beyond this a question came to mind.  Is there anything inherently wrong about “richness” or “poorness?”  I don’t believe that either side has anything basically wrong.  Both sides must fight against the evils that plague all men and women.  I then thought about the idea that we must cap the rich in order to bring up the impoverished.  I’m not really convinced that this is the right way to go.

There is this idea of learned helplessness.  If a dog is subjected to electrical shocks from a floor that it cannot escape eventually it will not even try to escape.  This happens in humans as well.  If they are subjected to systems from which they feel there is no escape they may also reach the point where they will not even attempt an escape.  I think this may be the case for many impoverished people.  This socioeconomic status may be all they have ever known and throwing money at the situation may not be the stand alone answer.  My personal belief is that strong educational and vocational programs should be in place to help those below the poverty line to see that there is hope and that there is a way out.  Food stamps alone can only provide a man a fish; aren’t we supposed to be teaching that man how to fish?  (ooh nice and pithy)

Then we come to the rich man.  I will use the neurosurgeon because I believe that it is a pretty decent example and I have  a personal desire to see physicians paid well.  Neurosurgeons on average are paid $380,000 to $420,000 annually.  However these same physicians must pay $200,000 to $300,000 annually for medical malpractice insurance.  This could functionally reduce their pay to $80,000 to $120,000 annually.  These are men and women who spent 4 years in an undergraduate program, 4 years in medical school, 7+ years in a residency program and 2-3 years in a fellowship program.  So these professionals have trained for quite possibly two decades in order to do extremely delicate work; the likes of which most people wouldn’t even imagine.  I personally think that anyone who has devoted that much of their life to a singular goal deserves  a very handsome reward.

Reducing a neurosurgeon’s salary seems to me to be a punishment for a person who has worked very hard to get to where he/she is.  Reward a person for doing right, teach the rich to be selfless and giving.  I believe that rewards are much better motivators than punishments.  If we really desire to affect long term positive change I don’t believe that it will be done through taxation and redistribution but through fundamental changes in how we view affluence and poverty.  We must first throw out the idea of rich versus poor.

Published in: on 20 December, 2009 at 5:45 am  Comments (1)  

Does it Have to be All or Nothing?

I once considered myself a literalist.  The Genesis account was absolutely how life happened.  I consider it a privilege to have taken a course in evolution and ecology for a couple of reasons.  I believe that when we learn something new it brings us closer to who our God really is.  I found that evolution did make sense when presented correctly and clearly.  It didn’t take long before I began viewing Genesis as a more figurative book.  I believe that perhaps God wasn’t so much interested in showing us how we came about as how we are special.  We are an absolutely unique species on this planet.   So now that Genesis is not a scientific account where do I go from here?

1 Chronicles 16:30: Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

We know that every second the earth is moving in a variety of directions.  It is easy to say that this is a metaphorical passage.  Why not Genesis also?  Do evolution and Christianity have to be mutually exclusive.  I do not believe so.

It is my belief that I can find a middle ground.  I think that one can and should seek to be a person who weighs the evidence always.  In the end I believe that we need love.  “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off” -Thomas Aquinas

Published in: on 6 November, 2009 at 4:32 pm  Comments (3)  

Dynamic Knowledge, Static Religion

The world is drastically different today than it was during the genesis of the world’s great religions.  Simply put, we have access to more information, we learn more, and we know more than the ancient world ever could have dreamed of.   Our knowledge exceeds their knowledge in every conceivable way.  So much so, perhaps, that compared to us, a first-century person (for that is the time-period for the origin of Christianity) is absolutely and undeniably ignorant about almost every subject.

The following video clip demonstrates some of the ways that our world is changing.  In particular, I’d ask you to pay attention to those facts which relate to knowledge, information, etc. (more…)

Published in: on 3 October, 2009 at 3:41 am  Comments (2)  

The Imago Dei

What does it mean to be made in the image of God…does it mean anything?  Is there something innately special about humanity or are we merely animals at the pinnacle of evolution?

Published in: on 30 September, 2009 at 2:52 am  Comments (2)  

Sickness as Sin


Jesus tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, then heals him of his ailments.

For many millennia, the cause of sickness has been attributed to witches, warlocks and sin. We now know that sickness is caused by microbes or a break down in our own bodily functions. What are the implications of equating sickness with sin? What are the psychological and physiological ramifications of this belief?

Published in: on 24 September, 2009 at 4:46 pm  Comments (6)  

The Significance of Jesus

It has become relatively commonplace to hear persons of all walks of life commenting on the importance of Jesus.  Some of these comments are as timid as, “Jesus was a great moral teacher” or “Jesus was a social activist of the highest caliber.”  Others are as lofty as, “Jesus was God.”  But the thread running through many Western notions of Jesus  is that he is somehow significant.  Even many atheists are hesitant to speak negatively of this figure who, obviously, impacted history in powerful ways. (more…)

Published in: on 13 September, 2009 at 5:03 am  Comments (4)