Winners and Losers

At the same time, I have been watching the draconian budget cuts enacted by our cousins in the United Kingdom, where I spend a lot of time, and have talked to a number of Britons who deplore them, and I fear what may happen to real live breathing Americans if similar cuts are enacted here in hopes of balancing the budget or reducing our tax burdens. I was suggesting earlier that my theological undergirding tells me we must take care of those who are in the most danger in our society -- children, single parents, the elderly, the homeless, the dispossessed. I believe we are our brothers' keepers, and that means than in some way, shape, or form, I am called to care for those who suffer, those who hunger, and those who need shelter.

I give money regularly to a homeless man I've adopted; I give to the less fortunate through the homeless ministry of my downtown Austin church. Individual philanthropy and church help are good and essential things. But government is the only institution large enough and with the appropriate infrastructure to take on these issues, which means that part of my taxes are needed to care for my fellow Americans -- and for those around the world who suffer.

I'd love to keep more money in my wallet. I struggle every month to take care of my family.

But as I've been saying in the past few columns, a Christian political ethic ultimately has to acknowledge that it's not all about me.

And I will willingly give up some of my hard-earned money so someone's life can be saved by the health insurance they now have; so someone's baby can be born healthy because of the pre-natal care they've been provided; so old folks needn't go hungry or go without the medicine keeping them alive.

All of those things are provided by the taxes I pay, and they and many other things I value, from infrastructure to art, are the gifts of taxation.

To make holding on to our own money an absolute value leads us in dangerous theological and political directions, and money is something I want to explore further in next week's column, since as I suggested earlier, I think all Americans are losers in this election because of money.

And if that doesn't bring you back next time, I don't know what will. Until then, may God bless you and keep you, and may God call us together into love, compassion, and service.

11/3/2010 4:00:00 AM
  • Mainline Protestant
  • Faithful Citizenship
  • Economics
  • politics
  • Christianity
  • Protestantism
  • Greg Garrett
    About Greg Garrett
    Greg Garrett is (according to BBC Radio) one of America's leading voices on religion and culture. He is the author or co-author of over twenty books of fiction, theology, cultural criticism, and spiritual autobiography. His most recent books are The Prodigal, written with the legendary Brennan Manning, Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination, and My Church Is Not Dying: Episcopalians in the 21st Century. A contributor to Patheos since 2010, Greg also writes for the Huffington Post,, OnFaith, The Tablet, Reform, and other web and print publications in the US and UK.