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And let’s talk about poverty in terms other than simple-minded, out-of-context tropes that do violence to scripture like “Paul said those who don’t work don’t eat” or “Jesus said the poor will always be with us.”

Here’s a 5-star review a reader wrote about The View From Down in Poordom at Amazonbooks.com:

    “When I finished reading the introduction to this book, I worried that author Paul McKay’s political perspective was going to act as a filter through which the various scripture passages he reflected on would be interpreted. And without a doubt, as McKay’s reflections suggest, there *are* political implications to the Bible’s teachings concerning poverty and care for the poor. But The View From Down in Poordom turned out to be pleasantly evenhanded and, well, rather unpleasantly convicting.

    Click this pic to see chapters in The View From Down in Poordom.

    “McKay challenges the conservative tendency to view the poor as lazy and undeserving of anything besides, maybe, some help finding a job. This evidently was not the view of many biblical writers such as the apostle Paul, who wrote in Galatians 2:10 that he was eager to remember the poor. But McKay also critiques the liberal tendency to push for greater material relief for the poor without any accompanying challenge to change the sinful behaviors and attitudes which often exacerbate poverty. The Bible, we come to realize, does not fit neatly into either a conservative or liberal mold when it comes to poverty. Rather, it challenges both mindsets not to pass the buck, either to government or employment, but rather to be willing to personally sacrifice for the less fortunate.

    “That is a message, delivered in this brief but heartfelt volume, that the American church would do well to heed.”

I don’t know this reader-reviewer, but he definitely read the book and got it.

It so happens I came across a concise quote this morning from Dorothy Day, one of my faith heroes, and realized it says in a few words what I said (or what I tried to say) in the conclusion of the book.

Said Day, who is on track to Catholic sainthood in spite of having had an abortion before her conversion from communism to radical-love Christianity:

Dorothy Day, taking it to the streets in protest.

    “We know God in the breaking of bread and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.”

Indeed, once we’ve engaged the poor and homeless, once we’ve sat down and listened to their stories and established the rapport that is friendship with them, we’ve had a taste of the heavenly banquet with them.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote in the conclusion of The View:

    In the wake of all the preceding scriptures, reflections, stories, and information, it would be reasonable for someone to ask, “So what?” As in “So what am I supposed to do now? And by the way, I’m an insanely busy person with more things to do and places to be than I can say grace over. I want to do more for the poor, but I don’t have much to offer other than prayers and donations to church and charity—or doing things I already do like volunteer time at the local food pantry. And frankly, I don’t know what I can do to make much difference in a world where so many suffer so much need!”

    My short answer would be this: relax and make more friends. Rather than just handing out cans of food at the food pantry with a smile and a “God bless you”—which is good as far as it goes—take a little extra time to make one or two or ten new friends there or wherever the needy may be found near you.

    We all need friends to sit with us the way good, dependable friends do; that is, without laying prejudgments or authoritative, parent-like demands on us. We can all enlarge our circle of friends from outside our usual social spheres to include the poor, who are never far from wherever we are.

    Consider that in our insanely busy lives, we somehow manage to find time to be an attentive and caring presence with our friends. Developing a rapport with someone in need and maintaining a friendship with him or her feels like a rewarding, enriching pleasantry—the stuff of which good memories are made. Doing for the poor only as a Christian duty to scratch off a do-good list leaves nobody feeling enriched…

    A common tendency in ministry to the poor is just that — that it’s ministry to the poor instead of partnership with them. Friendship implies partnership—navigating this life thing together, as equals. Too often, we assume to know what poor people need to provide for themselves without asking them what they need—without seeing them as equals. Too often, we see ourselves as the haves who somehow know what’s best for the have-nots.

    When Jesus encountered the blind man, Bartimaeus, he asked him a direct question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51 NRSV). Jesus knew that the man in front of him wanted his sight, but asking the pointed question gave Bartimaeus a sense of empowerment that he’d probably never felt. The fact that somebody cared enough about him to ask what he wanted made him feel that, for once in his life, he mattered to somebody in this harsh world.

The book is available at Amazonbooks.com here.

Also at barnesandnoble.com here.

Day was the founder of Catholic Worker Houses of Hospitality for the poor, publisher-editor of the radical Catholic Worker newspaper, and a fierce resistance leader.


So this is how we make America great again: We wage a “War on the Poor” and crush the old and vulnerable among us with what amounts to “Death Panel Healthcare.”

It’s as if Republicans are waging a War on the Poor. But considering how much Paul Ryan and so many other Republicans embrace the Darwinian, “Survival of the Fittest” economics of Christian-hater Ayn Rand, we shouldn’t be much surprised.

Silly Sarah Palin–who quit as the governor of Alaska in her first term because the heat in the kitchen was too much for such an icy woman to take–once warned that Obamacare would create “death panels.”

The “death panel” scare was a fiction, of course, but Palin raked in millions of dollars for a few years as the leading basher of all things Obama.

This was before Donald Trump became the leading Obama basher by creating the (racist) fiction that President Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii (which, by the way, is a state in the United States of America, which someone should explain to Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the always forward-looking state of Alabama).

We’ve come a long way from the days when Republicans actually worried about fictitious “death panels” thinning out the population.

Now we have Republicans who are giddy about passing what amounts to “Death Panel Healthcare.”

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

The proposed Death Panel Healthcare law–which someone should explain to Trump is only a proposal and not yet a law–is the handiwork of Paul Ryan, a man who used to give Ayn Rand’s books to staff members.

That would be the religion-hating philosopher and hack novelist Ayn Rand, whose entire economic philosophy was based on “survival-of-the-fittest” and the conviction that Selfishness is Good.

No doubt about it: Rand would be happy, happy, happy about the Trump/Ryan plan.

Then there’s this from 2011:

Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand Problem

It [God’s soliloquy in Job 38] is incredibly biologically accurate, sexy and crunchy.

It’s a sarcastic speech that God gives, taunting Job: “If you’re so smart, can you tell me where I keep the wind and the snow? Can you whistle up a storm? Can you tell the waves where to break?” For Job, like for all people, all he could say was “No, you’re in charge. Can I sit down now?”

My realization was that for us now, that’s changed. We are large enough now to spit in God’s face—and we are. Now it’s us who have to decide how high the waves go, how many storms we are going to get and how strong they’re going to be.

— Environmental activist and Methodist Bill McGibben

Bill McGibben: the leading voice in environmental activism–and a devout Christian (Methodist Div.)

Let us now praise professor, author and activist Bill McGibben, if only for three reasons:

1. He’s known as the most famous environmentalist in the world because he’s the smartest, most sensible and tough-minded environmentalist in the world–and probably the most universally respected.

2. McGibben is one scientist who is a devout, unapologetic Christian who gets extra points for being a Methodist.

Go here to check out his interview with “America” the Jesuit Journal (one of my favorite Christian journals I read online every day).

3. He’s not Bill Nye the Science Guy, who, as it turns out, is a total crackpot who may not be the most credible spokesman for science and the environment.

I mean, you won’t find Bill McGibben getting down with Rachel Bloom on her “sex junk” in what looks like an old Saturday Night Live skit.

Leath Tonino: a fine and mighty journalist, essayist and poet from Vermont.

Vermont free-lance writer Leath Tonino appreciates the natural and simple things in life. He’s a terrific writer whose essay “In Pursuit of Bird Poop” was a notable mention in 2016’s The Best American Science and Nature Writing.

Read it here.

He wins my vote for the poem below published in the February edition of The Sun magazine.(Link here.)

The last line with its reference to “crooked-in-the-best-sense” delighted me to no end, considering how politicians are crooked in the other sense.

“Write-Ins For President”
LEATH TONINO
I elect that bull elk in the Snake River.
I elect that raven in Canyonlands National Park.
I elect autumn moonlight on metal roofs.
I elect the strand of barbed wire that fell from the post and is now woven into the tall brown grass.
I elect the tall brown grass.
I elect my neighbors’ cat — the neighbors who are always cursing one another and screaming hateful things — because every morning he sits with me on the fire escape and watches the sunrise without meowing.
I elect the feeling of boots laced tight.
I elect potatoes cooked however.
I elect Vermont’s faded, sagging, leaning, crooked-in-the-best-sense-of-the-word barns.

If you’re new to the blog check out my book The View From Down in Poordom: Reflections on Scriptures Addressing Poverty.

It’s available at Amazonbooks.com, here, and Barnes & Noble online books.

The Rev. Kent Ingram of First United Methodist in Colorado Springs said he has been a “faithful foot soldier” who obeys church law, yet he is supporting Oliveto. He struggled for years regarding the church’s LGBTQ stance, and when he learned from the congregation’s youth minister that six gay youths have attempted suicide because they “thought there was no place for them in God’s love,” Ingram made up his mind.

“Lives were at stake,” he said. “The integrity of the gospel was at stake.”

— From a story in The Denver Post about United Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto

DENVER, CO – August 22, 2016: Bishop Karen Oliveto posed for a portrait in the Denver Post Building on August 22, 2016 after being elected the first openly gay bishop in my beloved United Methodist Church. (Photo by Vince Chandler / The Denver Post)

Below is a link to a story from the Denver Post about the United Methodist Church’s Bishop Karen Oliveto, whose unforgivable sin, according to my beloved UMC, sadly, is loving another woman.

I hope and pray she prevails today, but that’s hoping against hope considering that the dominant segment of the church can’t accept that Christ-loving people of the same sex can live in honest-to-God love with one another as much as straight couples.

Here’s the story, and a followup will be forthcoming on the turnout of today’s decision about this embattled church leader.


Consider this the latest in our series we call here at the blog the “Trump Truth Alert,” in which we call out the President of the United States for routinely lying through his teeth, incapable of passing the Rotary Club 4-Way test which asks first: “Is it the truth?” (See here for more on that.)

In tonight’s edition we raise the question, “What’s wrong with this video?”

Hint No. 1: Pavarotti’s been dead for 10 years.

Hint No. 2. The great tenor’s family didn’t appreciate very much candidate Donald Trump using Pavarotti’s music at Trump Pep Rallies.

But you’ll find Trump saying this to Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni in the vid:

On July 21, last year, when then-candidate Donald Trump was using Pavarotti’s music at his Trump Pep Rallies, the great tenor’s family issued a statement that included this excerpt:

    “As members of his immediate family, we would like to recall that the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the world view offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”

See more of the statement here.

God is the truth and the truth matters, even if President Trump has no relationship with truth.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”

— From the Book of Job, 38:4

Being the nationalistic Texan I am–and being an old newspaper scribe who loves good print journalism–I thoroughly enjoyed reading the ever-great Texas Monthly magazine’s profile of the genius filmmaker and native Texan Terrence Malick.

Malick, who doesn’t give interviews, has made such offbeat but hugely acclaimed and original films as Badlands (1978), Days of Heaven (1998) and The Thin Red Line and, currently the movie Song to Song that is set in his beloved hometown Austin.

The much-acclaimed movie-making genius Terrence “Terry” Malick, now 73, pictured here when he played football back in the day at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Long considered one of the most private and reclusive people in the arts, Texas Monthly points out that the enigmatic Malick hides in plain sight in Austin these days, two-step dancing with his wife at Austin night clubs.

I commend Texas Monthly writer Eric Benson’s superb profile of Malick to you, which you can read here.

In the video below are scenes from my favorite of Malick’s movies, The Tree of Life. It was filmed in Bastrop, Texas, not far from where I grew up, and also in some of the most remote places on earth. Malick spent more than 30 years filming scenes for it.

I’ve written here before about it being a thoroughly spiritual if not outright Christian movie: it’s a sublime, surreal, non-linear story and meditation on the age-old questions about evil, suffering, beauty, grace and nature.

Listening to the music from the movie always makes me feel like God has entered my mind, body, soul and spirit to the max.

The music in this collage of scenes is from the late, great Christian composer John Tavener’s “Funeral Canticle” from Tavener’s album.”Eternity’s Sunrise.” ( was introduced to Tavener’s music by a seminary classmate in 2000. I’ve been listening to Tavener since. More on Tavener herehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tavener.

I could look at and listen to this beautiful vid all day.

And furthermore …

If you’re interested…

There was this analysis from Bishop Robert Barron when the movie came out in 2010.