Tag Archives: social justice

Pray Before You Vote

My sister-in-law’s brother wrote this for the East Portland Blog. Well done, Mark.

Please Pray Before You Vote, By Mark Erickson

By admin, on November 4th, 2012

My church arranged speakers over the four Sundays preceding the national election to facilitate discussion concerning “Christian Faith and this Year’s Election Issues.” Last Sunday, retired North Park University Professor of New Testament, Dr. Cal Katter, focused on the dire economic issue of America’s widening gap between the rich and everyone else. Dr. Katter emphasized the importance of “leveling” instead of the current gap, which is trending closely to the disparity in 1928. In 2011, the top 10% owned 74.5% of America’s wealth (stock, property, savings, etc.) whereas the lowest 50% owns a paltry 1.1%. Dr. Katter stated Sweden and Japan have fared better than any other country at decreasing the economic disparity between the citizenry, and the United States fails significantly, especially when compared to Biblical teaching.

Where do the presidential candidates stand with regard to economic justice? Both candidates agree that the deficit must be substantially reduced, but neither are clear on how that would be accomplished, which deeply troubles me. Governor Romney would a) significantly increase military spending, b) give more bug tax cuts to the richest Americans, and c) dramatically cut Medicare, Medicaid, and discretionary programs that include supports for poorer Americans. President Obama proposes a very different budget that would seek to protect “the least of these.” He would not cut effective programs that empower poor people. President Obama wants a “Buffett Rule” that requires the richest Americans to pay more income tax. He wants to spend more on infrastructure projects and clean energy programs. President Obama is clearly closer to the shalom God wills.

Looking beyond our borders, President Obama has sought cooperation and reversed his predecessor’s unilateral approach to foreign policy and kept his promise to end military involvement in Iraq. He set a withdrawal date (2014) for Afghanistan. Governor Romney criticized President Obama’s expansion of foreign aid to reduce poverty and improve health in poor nations. Governor Romney, as previously stated, wants to significantly increase a Defense Department budget that is so completely vile and currently out of control, as I have commented previously (7/25/12 Arthur Herman of AEI and John Petkovic’s 8/19/12 entry). President Obama is clearly closer to the shalom God wills.

Two weeks ago Dr. Elizabeth Collier, a professor of business ethics at Dominican University, discussed immigration and quickly touched upon other related topics. America is a nation of immigrants. How do we welcome “the stranger?” The Catholic Church teaches that the human person precedes the state; President Obama has deported more people than his predecessor, according to Dr. Collier. The corrections industry lobbies heavily: increase incarceration rates and lengthen sentences in order to maximize profits. What a twisted outlook.

There are other issues where Governor Romney and President Obama differ sharply, e.g., “Creation Care” and the Affordable Care Act. Regarding the former, poor people are more impacted by pollution and climate change. Regarding the latter, it is embarrassing that the richest nation in the world has so many people without health insurance. Again, I believe President Obama is more aligned with what Jesus called loving your neighbor as yourself.

Please pray before you vote.

Mark Erickson

Daniel Berrigan’s 10 Commandments

These commandments from Jesuit Daniel Berrigan don’t eliminate or replace the original ten, but do offer wisdom. Since Buddhists have 108 sins, I think Christians can handle 20 commandments and 8 Beatitudes.

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.