About Wealth and Poverty
When Jesus said that the poor would always be with us, he probably didn't mean it as a compliment. It's easy enough for us here at Belmont to imagine that we know something about what it means to be poor, but often, we really don't. Our interrogation of this theme will lead us to examine our long-held assumptions that "more" and "better" always go together (i.e. more money is better, more things are better, more influence is better, more land is better, etc.) and will enhance our understanding of the nature of both wealth and poverty.
Questions which animate our questions about Wealth and Poverty might include:
Why is it that in spite of many years of direct attention through government programs like the New Deal and the Great Society and a growing universe of non-governmental charitable organizations, the number of poor people in our country continues to grow and their lot in life continues to be so desperate?
To what extent are we as a state and nation responsible for well-being of our fellow citizens? What are the obligations of the wealthy in regard to the poor? What are the limits of those obligations? To what extent are the poor responsible for themselves?
How is wealth accrued? Are the wealthy merely lucky? Do they possess traits of character or intellect which explain their prosperity? Or are they the beneficiaries of social systems which are beyond their personal control?
What about the lives of the rich? At some point, having more money and stuff stops feeling so good and begins to take over your life. What is that point? And why can't the prosperous see it, relax, and say, "this is enough?" What are the spiritual and emotional costs and benefits of wealth?
What about the lives of the poor? In what ways might the lack of material security affect a person's well-being? Obviously, this would include physical well-being, but we should also consider the emotional and spiritual well-being of those living in poverty.
Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the Kingdom of God.