Smart people saying smart things

Charlie Pierce: “In Which the GOP Reminds Us How Little They Care”

This is what prevails when you scratch down beneath the pretty surface — a party so completely fking unhinged that it thinks that a treaty on the rights of disabled people is some sort of one-world plot to steal the liberty of a third-rate moron like Jim Inhofe. This is conspiracy-theory brought to government. This is what’s there beneath all the perfumed words about “reforming,” say, Medicare and Medicaid. They simply do not care. Their prejudices and their paranoia must have pride of place over any help to be given to the less fortunate among us. Christians, my ass, They’d have been signing up for luxury suites on Golgotha.

Kristen Gaylord: “Stuff Christian College Kids Don’t Like”

Thus, for this group of young, Christian-college twenty-somethings, charity work is good, but political work is iffy. Protesting against contemporary slavery is honorable, but protesting against discriminatory hiring prejudices might take things too far. Non-objective art is beautiful; feminist art is discomforting. Talking about community is commendable; talking about alternative economic systems is extreme.

Jason Kuznicki: “Help.”

Do you want to give food? Add up its retail price. Take that money out of your wallet. Flush 90 percent of it down the toilet. Send the food bank the rest. You’re still helping more than if you gave the food.

John L. McKenzie: “Apocalypse is the cry of the helpless …”

Apocalypse is the cry of the helpless, who are borne passively by events which they cannot influence, much less control. The cry of the helpless is often vindictive, expressing impotent rage at reality. Apocalyptic rage is a flight from reality, a plea to God to fulfill their wishes and prove them right and the other wrong. Apocalyptic believers could hardly think the saying, “Go, make disciples of all nations,” was addressed to them. Had apocalyptic believers dominated the church since the first century, there would have been no missions to unbelievers, no schools, no hospitals, no orphanages, no almsgiving. The helpless cannot afford to think of such enterprises; they can only await the act of God, and then complain because that act is so long delayed. The gospels and epistles rather tell the believers that they are the act of God.

Sarah Bessey: “In which it’s a two-part invention”

Sometimes, I keep secrets because not enough time has passed for me to be able to really write about something. I keep secrets because it’s not yet time to tell that part of my life. I keep some secrets because it would hurt others to have it aired publicly. I keep secrets because only one part of the story can be told but really there is so much more going on behind the scenes.

I keep some secrets because I’m embarrassed or ashamed, others are because they are too dear and too precious for mass-consumption. I keep secrets because my appetite for truth and transparency doesn’t supersede my responsibility to care for the emotional well-being and hearts of others, and because most of our lives don’t occur in a vacuum.

I keep secrets because my family and my friends didn’t sign up to have their lives aired publicly.

I keep secrets because I like having my own life, tucked away, just for me. …

  • fraser

    First?
    I suspect a lot of the treaty opposition comes from the general far-right/religious right suspicion of treaties. Which make us subject to International Law and steal away American Exceptionalism by tying us to other countries (curiously I don’t hear much complaint about the WTO and similar arragements).

  • fraser

    That is not meant as an excuse for the anti-disability vote.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Do you want to give food? Add up its retail price. Take that money out
    of your wallet. Flush 90 percent of it down the toilet. Send the food
    bank the rest. You’re still helping more than if you gave the food.

    This reminds me so much about when I was in school and they introduced the new state requirement that all students do community service (Eventually, I am told, the schools organized this into a class that everyone had to take that would put them on a project. BUt in those early years, it was literally just “get someone to sign these papers that you did 20 hours of community service or you don’t graduate. You’re on your own.”), wherein they taught us that there were three forms of community service. COntributing money was the first and least important form. Being involved behind the scenes was the second and of middling importance. But Real True First Class Community Service was the kind where you were physically out there in public interacting with poor people for the world to see.

    This always struck me as being a little I dunno, loaded? Like they decided what they wanted the answer t obe then worked backwards to build a system that gage that as the answer

  • stardreamer42

    Re Tolkien: “Did you know he was a Christian?”

    Well, DUH. He was a white upperclass Englishman in the first half of the 20th century. What else was he going to be? Diversity? They didn’t need no steenkin’ diversity! (Which the author appears to understand, but the students she is describing don’t.)

    Jesus wept.

  • Beruthiel

    Do they know he was Catholic, since I hear that could debar him from being a Christian in some circles.

    And … upperclass? JRRT is the poster boy for the lower middle class boy made good. If you want a genuinely upperclass white Englishman of that era, see Winston Churchill, man who cannot be described as Christian by any meaningful definition of the word.

  • Amaryllis

    [Tolkien] was a white upperclass Englishman in the first half of the 20th century. What else was he going to be?

    An atheist? (Bertrand Russell, Alfred Ayer, Francis Crick, Julian Huxley…)

    A Vedantist? (Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Gerald Heard… )

    A Neo-Pagan/Wiccan? (Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner.. )

    … not to mention the exhaustive list of prominent Englishmen of Jewish heritage …

    Moreover, Tolkien’s Catholicism wasn’t merely a kind of cultural Christianity– like that man in Good Omens who, when he shirked going to church, it was the C-of-E parish church down the road that he avoided going to, and he wouldn’t have dreamed of not going to any other.

    Tolkien’s Catholic faith was important to him emotionally and philosophically, and to many minds, he did a better job integrating his faith into his works than C.S. Lewis ever managed to do with Narnia.

    ETA: and having re-read the paragraph in question, I’m not sure that I’d describe Tolkien’s work as “innocuous” (nostalgic I’ll grant her). And I certainly wouldn’t apply the word to Eliot.

  • arcseconds

     I don’t have facebook.  Where are my legions of venerating 20-something Christian hipsters?

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Around here the Safeway grocery stores have $10 paper bags full of food that they want you to pick up, carry around with you, and then buy, at which point the store takes the bag back and donates it. There’s no option to just make a $10 contribution without hauling a bag around with you (or if there is, they don’t say so).

    This is fractally wrong:
    The stuff’s in individual bags. It came from a warehouse, got bundled up, hauled around a store, then shipped to a distribution point. Much more efficient to go from warehouse to distribution.

    We have a city (maybe county) wide law “encouraging” us to use our own bags (the net result seems to be that shopping baskets are disappearing thanks to people who don’t want to pay 10 cents for a bag, claim they’re just taking the basket to their car, and keep the basket). So all those are in the bags the city would rather we weren’t using at all.

    Lots of people use the baskets instead of the carts.  The bags aren’t conveniently near the checkouts, they’re right by the door. If I were to pick up one of those bags, that’s my basket nearly full already, so I don’t, and I’ve never seen anyone else with a basket and a bag.

    It’s entirely possible the bags are reusable props and the actual donations really do go straight from the warehouse to distribution, but regardless, what’s the point? To get warm fuzzies from carrying around a “Donation bag!” while shopping?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TBW5HRVF3KFSDWVF34Z4XKVFJQ KrisM

    That Charlie Pierce link is spam, please don’t do this to me.

  • Tricksterson

    Linked to the article when I tried it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think KrisM’s problem is the website the article is on.

  • arcseconds

     While you’re right to emphasize the diversity of the upperclass Englishman, I think stardreamer42 still has a point.  After all, it’s not as though it’s unusual for English writers of the early 20th century to be Christian.  Aside from the already mentioned Lewis and Tolkein, we could name Orwell, T.S. Eliot, Oscar Wilde, W.H. Auden, &c. &c.

    Christians today often adopt a curious conceit whereby despite the fact it’s the single most popular religion in the world, they act as though it’s still a fringe, underground movement, conducting secret meetings in catacombs to avoid persecution by the Romans, where it’s an exciting discovery to find ‘he’s one of us!’. 

  • Amaryllis

    Yes, you (and stardreamer42) are  right about Christianity being a kind of default value for your basic 20th-centruy Englishman. It’s probably that, in so-called real life, I spend a lot of time among people who tend to see the world in broad sweeping generalizations.  So, I guess, as soon as I hear “Of course all X are Y” I find myself bleating, “Most X are Y, or it’s not unusual for an X to be Y, but you can’t assume that any particular X is Y, because Z…” Just out of habit.

    And the Christians described in your second paragraph are the kind of “Christians” that I want to put quotation marks around the word, because they seem to be using it in a different way than the rest of us.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Have you talked to the store manager about changing this?

    We have 5 Euro donation bags in our stores, too. Only in the month before Christmas, the bags are near the cashiers and the donation box directly behind, so you don’t lug them around.
    They are packed with food that the “Tables” (the charity that collects surplus, close-to-perishing-but-still-good food throughout the year from warehouses and stores and distributes to the poor who don’t have enough money to eat) have established – by talking directly to the poor and looking at their own shelves – to need: flour, pasta, cans – things that last long, but are seldom donated because they don’t run out.

    This is done because putting up donation boxes for money is problematic and presumably because when you’re doing your own grocery shopping, to think of another family needing food, too, esp. before Christmas, but not knowing what to give, it’s easy to take a prepackaged bag and donate it. The easier the charity makes it for people to donate, the more people do donate.

    And because the distribution network is already in place around the year, it doesn’t create extra cost, work or problems. (The Tables still have a website where they ask for money donations to buy food that isn’t left over, for gasoline for the trucks and so on.)

    It’s similar to the argument about not donating clothes or surplus grain for Africa, because the shipping costs are far too high in relation to the effect: anybody who is interested in and activly reading about donations knows this already.

    I also find the argument that the 3rd world needs our help more urgently wrong. It’s doing morality by the numbers, so helping 10 kids is better than helping 5.

    It also overlooks other possibilities of help besides giving money: giving political leverage, like writing letters to politicans or signing petitions to change unfair trade agreements, combat corruption and the practises of the world bank etc.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It’s a huge chain; the store manager has no control over it. They also have a much simpler donation process that goes through the debit/credit card machine; just push a button to add a few dollars for the charity of the month. There’s no charity this month, though, not even food.

    I should email them a suggestion that they do both.

  • Danivon

    Our local foodbank did it really simply. They give people a shopping list as they go into a store. It not only says what they want, but things they do not want (I guess they had enough dry pasta and rice so those were in the ‘do not buy’ list.

    Perhaps they could have achieved a slightly better value from donations of money and buying wholesale, but I think they get far more this way and people know that what they donate is needed. Plus, we found that rather than the 1 item they asked for, we had a bag full.

    And while maybe the UK should not need such charity, or it might go further elsewhere, I actually am pretty andry that the recession and the Tory/LibDem austerity drive means hundreds of people in my town are reliant on a foodbank. I not only want to help them, but I also want to use other means to stop the need.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    I don’t think anyone’s saying that nobody in a country like the UK or the US needs the charity. It’s just that, in the UK or US, there’s plenty of food for everyone. The issue is unequal access to food, not quantity of food. So giving food is an almost meaningless gesture. The Red Cross got a bunch of food donated to them after Hurricane Sandy and it mostly just sat in a warehouse. The Red Cross doesn’t need food. They can get all the food they need. People were going hungry in the aftermath of Sandy because, due to destroyed infrastructure, the food couldn’t get to them. And giving the Red Cross more peanut butter isn’t going to change that.


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