What Every Church Member Should Know about Poverty by Bill EhligThis book was a hard read for many reasons. From the inception of the book the title makes a clear distinction that there is a difference between the poor and a church member. From an analytical/scholarship perspective the book is helpful, however I found the book to be outdated and a product of the very disease that perpetuates impersonal relationships between the poor and churches. This book was written to a white middle to upper class audience and this is the definition of a church member for the duration of the book. Personally having been through poverty there are some legitimate facts in the book about the poor, however the approach and assumptions make this book only palatable to well-to-do people who are detached from 21st century life. The book attempts to inform, but the information creates a chasm that clothes the poor in an other-worldliness. It seems the poor are viewed as another organism to be understood from afar and approached cautiously through scholarship and programs. I believe the intention of the book is great, however reading the book as a person who has been in poverty as well as in church communities it puts a bad taste in my mouth.
The author(s) states,
The purpose of this book is to help individuals to look deeper, even into themselves, as well as into the lives of those who have need
After reading this book, it is clear that the individuals are those financially stable church members, who are privileged to not have integrated experiences with the communities around their churches. Personally growing up in the inner city there are luxuries one enjoys in the freedom of speech and relationship that middle and upper class church members do not enjoy and the author(s) make that clear. American church members in middle and upper class churches can choose to integrate or not and I believe many have chose not to for difficulty or ignorance. So, in this way I believe this book is a good read to someone who has never lived integrated in a multicultural or multi-cultural community.
The best part of this book is the truth that there are hidden rules that govern the modern day corporate church and embedded in these rules are methods of discrimination. To those impoverished or especially minorities discrimination in churches is nothing new, although white church goes in upper to middle class churches may not be fully aware of this discrimination. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remarked the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven oclock Sunday morning, this book helps in shedding light on why Dr. Kings statement is true, even today.
This book speaks to a shared collective thought process of upper to middle class church members in America who are predominantly white and evangelical. Thus, even the definition of ministry is confined to this shared theological understanding. This shared understanding is heavily rooted in Western thought and legitimacy of precepts and concepts through scholarship and intellectual prowess. Despite how factual and articulate these concept of effective ministry may be they can still be heavily induced by programmatic thinking, hence being a church member rather than a human being who must share in experience of a brother or sister in hard times. In some odd way the book is a product of its own vices. It reveals how the American Church operates as an organization and business that offers a Sunday service rather than an organism that grows and expands through relationship.
In closing, I see this book as more of an analysis rather than a book from the heart. The stories feel generic and judgmental, the poor are perceived as alien and sort of a specimen under a petri dish. My gripe with the book is that it may unintentional provoke churches to try and fix the problem of program with more program in reaching the poor. Though well meaning, the approach leads to further organization and homogenization of church culture, which is the very thing that needs to be deconstructed. I kept reading the book thinking, cultural integration should not be this hard. Again I am aware of my own bias, therefore I gave the book two stars for the data, research, and analysis of hidden rules in economic classes.
Pope Francis' poor church
What does it mean to be a poor church, for the poor?
Roberto S. Goizueta, the prominent Boston College theologian, has taken a path that in many ways is quite different from his father, Roberto C. As CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, the elder Goizueta, a Cuban immigrant, was famous for the innovative global marketing skills with which he transformed the soft drink giant. But despite their differences, the theologian says he learned a lot from his father. That was one of the reasons for his success. My father was able to think globally at a time when people were not thinking globally.
Thankfully, it is pretty rare to see that particular liturgical abuse anymore although I do still see — shudder! Theologically, we believe that the Eucharist is the most precious thing there is — the Real Presence, the Body and Blood of Christ. The main reason that the Church uses gold and precious medals to make vessels that hold the Eucharist is for this reason. They are intended to hold the King of Kings. However, there is another aspect to consider. A criticism often raised against the Church is that she does not live out true poverty, but rather that her bishops and pope live a life of wealth. There is an easy rebuttal to this, of course — the bishops and the pope rely on the charity of the Church and her members.
But what is the Church of the poor? Let me quote the answer of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) convened on Jan.
lewis and clark animals they found
Therefore, one of the first ways we can serve the poor is by genuinely loving them. We use them as objects instead of people loved through us. We make them listen to sermons before we feed them, ask them to join the church before we clothe them. It is important to do this because Jesus loved them enough to die on the cross for them. Through what sort of actions does this love express itself?