Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Forgive Us Our Debts

Religion Dispatches had this biting and passionate article on why we ought to oppose the debt-driven crimes of our era, A Matter of Life and Debt: The Role of Religion.

Here's the paragraph that was illuminating to me - and disturbing.
Question: All right. But aren’t these weighty systemic questions better left to experts and economists? We religious folk have a lot of other issues to worry about—issues that we are more competent to address.

Answer: Actually, just about all of the issues that we religious folk insist we really care about—issues like world poverty and hunger, resource wars and environmental degradation, human trafficking, widening domestic inequality, shrinking access to quality higher education, declining on-time graduation rates for low-income students and students of color, urban neighborhood blight, stress-related health problems, declining family life and domestic violence—are directly related to systemic debt oppression.

If the most urgent moral question of the 20th century was the question of color line, perhaps an equally urgent moral question for the 21st century is the debt line—a line not at all unrelated to ongoing race-based oppression.

What can a local church do in light of such global and insidious financial sins?

An immediate beginning is to live out the heart and mind of the early church that we read about in Acts 2 and Acts 4. When someone who is part of the church community has a need, work is done to meet that need. Stuff gets sold, connections get made, help is given to meet that need. The bigger the need, the bigger the sacrifice. But after awhile this kind of activity will force the local church to say: instead of treating the symptoms, how can we bring healing to the sickness?

If Anchor is committed to the long-term work of helping make our neighborhood a better place to live, we have much to learn. Our collaboration with others like NeighborLink and Fort Wayne Fatherhood Coalition and Lutheran Social Services and Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County, and other churches like Grace Presbyterian and First Mennonite and others are all part of this work.

But we still, at some point, have to prophetically address those institutions in our city that propagate the insidious financial sins that undermine our neighborhoods.

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