Let God’s Blessings Trickle Down Slowly (and Other Stuff The Bible Doesn’t Say)

Let justice trickle down like a leaky faucet… 

Praise God from whom all blessings trickle down, like a glacier slowly melting in a climate crisis…

God’s blessings trickle down in increments, once the wealthy have sufficiently boosted the economy by saving their own asses again…

Peace is trickling down like an unenthusiastic river… 

And water will trickle through the desert like it hasn’t rained in years, because it actually hasn’t, so what did you expect? 

And Jesus said, “I am the slow trickle of life. All who come to me will probably be thirsty again in like 5 minutes.” 

It’s Monday and I’m out of fancy words, so let’s just cut right to it. This new GOP tax bill is reprehensible. Full stop. It was pushed through in the dark of night, behind closed doors, with notes and amendments literally scribbled into the margins. However the well-controlled narrative might allude to tax cuts for middle class families, those cuts are a sham. The benefits are short-lived relative to the damage that will be widespread and long-lasting. This new plan benefits none but the slimmest margin of the very wealthiest among us–and actively harms all the rest.

The rationale of a “trickle down” effect is absurd. They tell us that giving all these breaks to the wealthy will boost the economy; that the rich getting richer will mean more jobs and all around better life for those at the bottom of the food chain. But history has proven this system to be a farce, again and again. The only thing that happens when the rich get richer is that the gap widens; the middle class disappears; and the whole system collapses because there is nobody holding the center. There aren’t enough people who can afford to buy the stuff and employ the services… The housing bubble bursts, the market takes a dive, and everyone goes into survival mode. Meanwhile, the poor–who always suffer–struggle to live day to day,waiting for those fabled few drops to roll down from the top.

faucet-trickle1

Adding insult to injury, our conservative lawmakers couch this new plan in the language of morality and values, and so they somehow win the support of the Christian voter base. This is the most grotesque irony, because “we”– people of faith– serve a God of abundance. The God of peace that flows like a mighty stream, and justice that rolls down like waters. The God from whom ALL BLESSINGS FLOW, not slowly meander down the pipeline. We follow Jesus who is the water of life–not the drip, not the sip, but the bottomless well that will never run dry. When we answer the poor and the working class with the promise of an eventual “trickle,” we affirm the myth of scarcity. We echo the world’s mantra of “never enough,” and continue the culture of greed in which the primary goal of most ordinary citizens is to hold more tightly to their stuff.

This does not end well.

For an added layer of irony, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who champion this bill are adding more than a trillion dollars to the national debt (WHICH I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW MANY ZEROES THAT IS) so that the one percent do not have to pay taxes on the airports in which they land their private jets. I’m not being a smart-ass this time, that is literally in the bill.

More ironic still? The same “fiscal conservatives” have long said that the government should not be in the business of benevolence, but rather, care of the poor should be the job of the church and other religious institutions. That’s all well and good, but when you grind the middle class down to a nub, disposable income dwindles… When things like higher education and healthcare and childcare (not to mention home ownership) become completely unattainable to the public at large, who do you think is going to sustain the church? Here again, the bottom drops out. When nobody can hold the middle, the whole system comes to a grinding halt.

And if you want to talk about separation of church and state in the meantime, then let’s discuss how some of the other scribblings in this tax bill are designed to blur those lines… So not only do we run the risk of our churches becoming money laundering operations for political candidates–we further enable a system in which high profile pastors can, hypothetically, endorse a serial sex offender for a major office; demolish women’s healthcare in the name of “life;” and then receive a healthy (tax-free) supplement from whatever Super Pac bought our pulpit in the last election.

 

These broken and grotesquely intertwined systems are not the fruits of democracy; they are not even entirely the outcome of capitalism. What we have become, in essence, is an oligarchy. Historians and economists have been warning of this for decades, and it has finally come to pass. The rich get richer; they buy themselves into office (because really, being independently wealthy is the only way to get elected these days); they use the power of both government and, increasingly, organized religion to protect their own interests; then they wrap it all in the language of virtue and, sometimes, even scripture. The heads of corporations get more wealthy and more powerful; while the people who manufacture, serve, and/or deliver their products cannot earn a living wage (much less afford to buy the products).

And when the law sides, again, with the wealthy, they use their privilege of place to assure us that the benefit will reach us too. Eventually.

People of good faith (and good people of no faith), reject the notion that lifting up the mighty will somehow, later, eventually, help the weak.  While the government alone cannot end poverty, its policies can certainly contribute to the suffering of the poor, and ensure the demise of the middle class. I do not, in any universe, pretend that Democrats have all the answers to our economic woes. But this bill, as it stands, is pure evil. And experts on both sides of the aisle say the fallout will be disastrous.

In this season of Advent, we hold out hope for new life that comes to all. Not just to the wealthy, the elite of the empire. New life comes, not in some slow, eventual drips… but rolling, rushing, flowing like it cannot wait to reach the thirsty people on the ground.

If you want to activate that hope and put some flesh on it, step away from the shiny mall and get on the phone right now. Tell your lawmakers that you are concerned about the burden on the national deficit, and the many ways that this plan will hurt the most vulnerable in our communities. Tell a personal story if you’ve got one. And then, learn how you can get involved with the Poor People’s Campaign, a grassroots movement for moral revival that has nothing to do with propping up wealth; and everything to do with bringing justice into our economic system.

Remember that our God is a God of abundant life. Blessings that overflow, peace that rushes like a mighty river, justice that rolls down like water; and we follow Jesus, who is the water of life.

There is no trickle about it.

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