In Praise of Curmudgeons

There are two kinds of curmudgeons:

  1. Curmudgeons whose crankitude is endless and indiscriminate. Good things happen and yet they rarely acknowledge them.
  2. Curmudgeons whose hope for the world endures in spite of all cosmic ridiculousness. They sound cranky at times and yet their basic faith that human beings are capable of virtue remains.

We know which we are.

People who spend their lives in tireless service to others in the likeness of Christ actually do get tired.  There are glimpses of good and then someone tells you that her white daughter got assigned a black roommate and “of course we had to move her out of that dorm room” or someone makes a comment about your decision to wear capri pants to worship rather than “something more appropriate.”  And you begin to feel grouchy and might even whisper “What’s the use?” to no one in particular.

Following Jesus can be hard.  I’m not sure we are truly following Jesus if it isn’t a little hard.

We are on the cusp of the 50th Anniversary of The Poor People’s Campaign organized by Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  The hope was to address issues that create poverty and declare war on those issues, resulting in more justice for all.

Happy Anniversary to the Poor People’s Campaign but we don’t have as many laurels to rest upon as we’d hoped.  This article is very helpful for dissecting data between poverty stats in the 1960s and poverty now.  The author, Yves Smith also says that:

“Poverty is multidimensional.  It radiates into housing, health, education, criminal justice, and upward mobility, which in turn affect economic poverty.” 

Talking about poverty is not as sexy or uplifting as talking about so many other things (e.g. Wonder Woman, cute shoes, vacation plans.)  But Jesus talked about it a lot.

I recently heard someone say that “nobody in America is truly poor.

It’s true that many who live below the poverty line have mobile phones and televisions.  But economists explain that measuring poverty is complicated.

If we are measuring poverty according to how many people are receiving benefits like food stamps, free school lunches or housing subsidies, we are overlooking those who are not receiving those benefits because they are no longer available or they are unaware that they are available.  Ask your local church group doing mission trips in rural areas this summer if they have noticed how “truly poor” our fellow citizens are.  We have a long way to go before every child has clean drinking water in the United States, much less a solid education and healthy food options.

Our culture rewards those who are always positive and smiling. But note that Jesus himself was not always the meek and mild prophet who chucked little children under his chin. Note that even Jesus loved the poor enough to toss tables from time to time.

For what injustice would we be willing to be like Jesus?  For what injustice would we toss tables – or simply speak up?

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