“Book Recommendation: Poor Relief in England 1350 – 1600”: The Dorothy Option

“Book Recommendation: Poor Relief in England 1350 – 1600”: The Dorothy Option February 29, 2016

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…McIntosh also takes care to outline the change in attitude toward the poor as she finds it in legal verbiage. Rather than charity as a meritorious act, the new laws concerning the poor become much more concerned with control of aid recipients, placing much more emphasis on behavioral conditions the poor must meet, and implying that poverty was less a result of misfortune and more a moral short-coming on the part of the needy, an attitude McIntosh connects with the Puritan mentality.

Another valuable insight is McIntosh’s insistence that we not view “private charity” as something separate from public efforts to aid the poor when we are considering pre-Reformation poor relief. She rightly explains that the Catholic Church applied considerable pressure on its members and that the funds it distributed through its massive web of charitable organizations could not rightly be considered “voluntary charity” as we imagine today when we think of money freely given to American churches and then distributed from there to the poor.

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