Guest Column to The
A few months ago, Chris Dux took me to task for an op-ed I wrote in The Paris News. He sent the same list of complaints to my website so I chose to answer his challenges there instead of belaboring our conversation in public. Now it’s my turn to challenge something in his latest essay: “Wealth creation is happening faster than ever before” (March 24).
Dear Chris, I have appreciated the back and forth debates between you and your Democrat counterpart, Gary O’Connor. You both express your viewpoints clearly and courteously; this is what we expect from our political leaders.
In this last piece, you presented your argument that wealth inequality is not a major problem because you believe economic growth at the top benefits our entire society.
I know that this is a major conservative position and I’m not surprised to see you make the argument. However, the way I see it, too many regular Americans are struggling and don’t ever benefit from wealth trickling down from the wealthiest. So I guess we will have to agree to disagree on your rosy picture of wealth in America.
But here is where I must speak up: your last sentence, the apparent pinnacle of your argument quoted Jesus. “Jesus must have been okay with wealth inequality because he always spoke the truth, ‘the poor you will always have with you.’”
Oh my goodness, Chris! What were you thinking? It is this very attitude that I took issue with before: this way of baptizing the positions of the Republican Party with divine sanction. As I said in my earlier response to you: “God’s will on earth does not align with the Republican platform.”
Instead of bending Jesus’ words to prop up political positions, isn’t it more faithful for us to bend our practice and beliefs to align with Jesus the Word of God?
Instead of using Jesus to support Republican policies that keep the poor trapped in wealth inequity, how about finishing Jesus’ sentence in Mark 14:7 and see where that leads: “For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish.” Please tell me how your party might enact “kindness” to the poor within its platform and policies.
A person who argues that the first part of Jesus’ sentence informs their politics cannot argue that the second part of his statement does not. Showing kindness to the poor is not just an individual charitable concern. Rather caring for the poor is also a societal responsibility – especially for anyone who would claim that this is a “Christian” nation.
Wouldn’t it be more authentic for all of us who claim to be Christian to actually live the prayer Christ taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
If more Christians lived out this prayer within our politics, then we would surely be working together on this earth to try to accomplish some of the justice we imagine must be “God’s will in heaven.” I can’t imagine that God’s kingdom could ever be characterized by the kind of vast wealth inequalities typical in all the imperfect kingdoms we humans create for ourselves.
I hope you and Gary will continue your left/right dialogue, but I encourage you to stick to politics; your particular version of conservative Christian theology really does not improve your arguments.
By the way, I’m still open for that cup of coffee you offered.
Read Lamar County Republican Chair Chris Dux essay here. (This online version is limited to 300 words and so the final sentence is not included.)
Read Lamar County Democrat Chair Gary O’Connor essay here
Bill Collins’ Letter to the Editor is here. It is behind a paywall but this is my favorite part: “Once again the ever lovely and effervescent Charlotte Coyle has come forth with an opinion column …”