Most of us are familiar with some variation of the King James Bible’s translation of John 1:14:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  If one looks at the original Greek of the Gospel of John, however, one finds that “dwelt among us” doesn’t quite capture the true meaning of the phrase.  You can see the original Greek variants here (sorry, I couldn't get the fonts to work to show it here).

It's the phrase "kai eskenosen en emin" that is translated “and dwelt among us,” a phrase that the translators obviously thought made more sense in our culture (and that of King James) than what the Greek actually says:  “and he set up his tent in our midst.”  It’s been rendered many times, many ways over the years, as he “tabernacled among us” and more, but that’s the basic sense of it.  But how can this be?  What kind of people set up tents among us?  Is this Jesus as Occupy protestor?

Too much of a stretch, to imagine Christ on the side of the tent-dwellers in so many of our public spaces this fall protesting economic injustice and plutocracy?  Then remember some of the words Mary sings when she discovers she will give birth to the Messiah:

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

-Luke 1:51-53

 

Happy Christmas Eve.  Occupy Earth. 


Comments

Craig McKee | 12/30/2011 - 1:48pm
I'm just pleased as punch to read that the OWS people have moved out of Zucotti Park and headed to IOWA caucuses, and are hopefully heading for New Hampshire. America has seen the results of a powerfully united grassroots movement in the Tea Party. Who knows what the OWS can achieve?
EXCELSIOR!
Rick Malloy | 12/29/2011 - 4:41pm
To those who are unaware of the political nature of the Gospels, read this article from bustedhalo (http://bustedhalo.com/features/busted-john-dominic-crossan) in which scripture scholar Dominic Crossan illumintes the political meanings of the infancy narratives. 

And the Hebrew prophets were certainly not Tea Party republicans.  Read Amos.  He certainly would not have approved the 1% going from 12.5 times median income in 1980 to 36 times the median in 2006.  And would Jesus be in favor of that ratio going to 80 times the median?

Listen to law professors today:

Don’t Tax the Rich. Tax Inequality Itself.
By IAN AYRES and AARON S. EDLIN   December 18, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/opinion/dont-tax-the-rich-tax-inequality-itself.html?_r=1&ref=opinion?ref=opinion
THE progressive reformer and eminent jurist Louis D. Brandeis once said, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” Brandeis lived at a time when enormous disparities between the rich and the poor led to violent labor unrest and ultimately to a reform movement.
Over the last three decades, income inequality has again soared to the sort of levels that alarmed Brandeis. In 1980, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans made 9.1 percent of our nation’s pre-tax income; by 2006 that share had risen to 18.8 percent — slightly higher than when Brandeis joined the Supreme Court in 1916.
Congress might have countered this increased concentration but, instead, tax changes have exacerbated the trend: in after-tax dollars, our wealthiest 1 percent over this same period went from receiving 7.7 percent to 16.3 percent of our nation’s income.
What we call the Brandeis Ratio — the ratio of the average income of the nation’s richest 1 percent to the median household income — has skyrocketed since Ronald Reagan took office. In 1980 the average 1-percenter made 12.5 times the median income, but in 2006 (the latest year for which data is available) the average income of our richest 1 percent was a whopping 36 times greater than that of the median household.
....

Part of our goal is to change the way politicians speak about income equality. Framing the income of the wealthy in relation to the median income will help us all keep in mind the relative success of the middle class. Our grandparents would be shocked to learn that the average income of the 1-percent club has skyrocketed to more than 30 times the median income — just as we will be shocked if 20 years from now 1-percenters make 80 times the median, which is where we will be if inequality continues to grow at the current rate unabated.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is right to decry the increasing power of the 1 percent as a threat to democracy. President Obama is right to characterize the present as a “make-or-break moment” for the middle class. As 1-percenters ourselves, we call on Congress, for the sake of democracy, to end the continued erosion of economic equality in our nation.
Ian Ayres, a professor of law at Yale, is the author of “Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done.” Aaron S. Edlin, a professor of law and of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, is co-editor of “The Economists’ Voice: Top Economists Take On Today’s Problems.”
Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

J Cosgrove | 12/29/2011 - 11:25am
Mr. Beigel,


Thanks for your response.  I bet if we both sat down over a beer or a hamburger, we would have a lot in common in how we feel and could get along just fine.


As far as what one does with one's wealth, I believe all who are fortunate enough to earn large amounts should be generous with it.  I believe many are and that few are just accumulating it like Scrooge McDuck so they can count it.  Some examples from class mates of mine from business school who were far more successful at making money than I was.  One recently gave $10 million to Notre Dame.  Another built the new football stadium at Stanford University but has also donated lots of money to charity.  A graduate several years before me donated $150 million to the business school to set up a program for developing businesses in poor countries.  I met several of my classmates who have moved on from their business pursuits and are essentially working pro bono at activities that are helping their local communities.


I live within a couple miles of the Rockefeller estate in suburban NYC and they have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity.  They have also donated thousands of acres of their property for public use.  One of the nicest places to hike near New York City is their estate as there are literally over a hundred miles of trails on their property that anyone can use and it is beautiful.  The list goes on and granted some never use their money wisely, a large percentage comes back to the common people.


But if you read the article I posted above, you will see why I am not a fan of Wall Street.  They do some very useful things but the trend in the last 25 years has been very negative as many have learned to game the system and essentially make huge amounts from activities that are not productive. 
Andy Beigel | 12/29/2011 - 10:44am
Mr Cosgrove - One need only listen to Newt G, Mitt R., Eric C., Rush L., the list is pretty endless to hear the valiant conservatives attack the poor - you are ppor because it si your own fault - a populatr line.  
As far as conservatives doing more to help the poor - perhpas the classicl conservaitve has done so, but today's variety not so much.  Even though there are "studies" which support this idea - the design of the research is flawed - self-identiifcaiton does nto always match reality.   
Ido not deny anyone their wealth - by the way - I do wonder though when is enough enough?  At what point does being wealthy become the end in itself and lead to teh worshipof mammon?  
I do not share teh aspirations of OWS.  I think that they have called our attention to a grave disparity in this country, just as the Tea Party called out attention to issues within the way the country is governed.  I think that all of us should be uncomfortable with what both groups have pointed our, and rather than vilify them we need to undersrtand them.  (I don ot equate by teh way OWS with liberal ro the Tea Party with conservative). 
J Cosgrove | 12/29/2011 - 9:00am
Here are a couple things people should consider in all this.  Wall Street is different from the rich.  Now granted that there are lots of rich people on Wall Street but they are not the only ones in our society.  Money is made in lots of different ways.  I personally am not a big fan of Wall Street.  In fact I am a major critic of it.  But I am also not a critic of wealth per se, and am only interested in how it is eventually used.  Here is a devastating article that appeared yesterday in the National Review which is highly critical of Wall Street by a conservative.


http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/print/286704


Also here is an amusing summary of what taking all the money from the rich would accomplish.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=661pi6K-8WQ 


 
J Cosgrove | 12/29/2011 - 8:41am
Fr. Keane,

Why don't you try to lay out what you think the specific objectives of OWS are.   Then we may be able to debate on the same playing field.  My observation is that the objectives are very vague and that does not help because any concrete goals must have specific means to reach them.  When this is done, we can debate both the goals and the means suggested to achieve the goals.  And what has happened in Berkeley may be very different from what happened in Oakland and New York and other cities.


Mr. Beigel,


''that is why when I hear the valliant conservatives attack the poor I cringe -''


Who is attacking the poor?  I haven't seen that anywhere here.  What is being disputed is how best to help the poor.  My experience is that conservatives do much more to help the poor than the liberals.  But if you want to discuss specifics then start a dialogue and not cast negatives at people.
Andy Beigel | 12/29/2011 - 8:25am
I read with some dismay the comments of Ms. Ho-Ohn, Mr.Maher, and Mr. Cosgrove.  Ms. Ho-Ohn because why does AMerica have to be the police force for the world?  This preoccupation with that idea has added unknown trillions to the national debt that she decries.  
Mr. Maher, and Mr. Cosgrove because they insist on promoting the class warfare meme as an OWS event.  The class warfare meme comes from the conservative establishment which in its current manifestation is doing exactly what JK Galbraith said it does - Looking for a rationale to say that greed is moral.  Class warfare is not found in the Gospels, this is true, but it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of teh needle then for a rich man to enter heaven.  Mr. Maher is right class warfare is a divisive, that is why when I hear the valliant conservatives attack the poor I cringe - they, the poor are so divisve that it is best that we not see them - ask the rich man and Lazarus how that worked out.
Please refer to teh various sttements of the Popes on wealth and how it should be sued.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 12/29/2011 - 5:58am
Mr. Maher is correct (#22) that even if the "rich" were taxed 100% there would be no paying off the debt in a single year.

But the debt does not need to be paid off in one year to solve the crisis. It probably doesn't have to be paid off entirely at all. It simply has to stop increasing as fast is it is doing right now, stop increasing entirely as soon as possible, and begin decreasing in the near future. The essential thing is to make the country look enough like a solvent entity that we can borrow money at affordable interest rates until the debt can be made to begin to decrease.

Both demagogic solutions ("Tax the rich!" and "No more welfare for deadbeats!") are insufficient. The only way to solve the debt crisis is for the vast middle-class to accept a reduction in medical and retirement entitlement programs and simultaneously pay somewhat higher taxes.

As for "foreign wars," the world will have peace as long as and only as long as America is willing to buy it and fight for it. The trillions we spend on maintaining civilization on this planet are money well spent IMHO. The countries who rail more self-righteously about America's "foreign wars" are exactly those whose peace, prosperity and welfare programs would be impossible without the security America provides.
Tom Maher | 12/29/2011 - 5:32am
Jim Keane, S.J. (#23)

Excuse me.  The OWS movements around the country promenently referes to themselves as the 99% v 1% in signs that can be seen on TV news and videos in addition to their statements and literature that states they are the 99% v 1%.  The 1% refers to the rischest 1%.   The constant opposition to the 1% is OWS' trademark that OWS projects to the world.  The New York OWS in the hundreds have gone to the homes of wealth individuals to demostrate in additon to Wall Street.  This focus on "us" v "them" based on wealth is classic political class warfare invented and practiced by marxist for over a hundred years worldwide. 

Class warfare is not found in the Gospel.  Christ did not take political sides for or against people based on wealth unlike the OWS movement.  There is nothing spiritual or holy about the OWS class warfare poliitical efforts and advocacies.  The church does not agitate or condone agitation against people who have wealth.  There is nothing holy, spiritual or worthwhile about class warfare.  Class warfare is a known destructive force that divides people and condemns people for having wealth.  Having wealth is not an inherent evil and Christ frequently associates with wealthy people.  The Gospel is not about class warfare that is promoted by OWS movement. 
Tom Maher | 12/29/2011 - 12:58am
Robert Nunz (#19)

The national debt crisi of the United States and the Eurozone can not be solved by taxation at all.  Greece for example is in debt 140% of its GDP.  If you taxed everyone in the country 100% of their income Greece debt problem will not be solved.  (Many economist in gfact think Greece indebtness is so extreme it is beyond rescue.)  By the way high levels of taxation kill of an economy faster thatn fast so your total tax revenue will actually decrese making more debt likely. 

But of course OWS do not think of coherent tax policy based o?n? ??r?a?t?i?o?n?a?l? economic criteria?.? ? ??O?W?S? ?b?a?s?e?s? ?t?a?x? ?p?o?l?i?c?y? ?o?n? ?c?l?a?s?s? ?w?a?r?f?a?r?e? ?-?-? ?p?u?n?i?s?h? ?t?h?e? ?r?i?c?h? ?f?o?r? ?p?u?n?i?s?h??m?e?n?t? ??s?a?k?e?.? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
J Cosgrove | 12/28/2011 - 5:37pm
Mr. Nunz,


Instead of making derogatory comments about others, why don't you ask the editors to start a dialogue about the poor and how best to help them.  That way everyone can make their recommendations and then give their reasons. 
Tom Maher | 12/28/2011 - 9:16am
Craig B. McKee, Hoing Kong (#13)

Well living in Hong Kong must give you a much greater appreciation that we all live in a global economy than some of our home boy.girl commentators don't fully  appreciate.

It should be recongnized by all that even the potential for default(s) on nation debt,  let alone an actual default on national debt, by any of the Euro zone countires has huge negative worldwide economic impact.  The repeated near default of Greece onits debt this year has caused confidence in the worldwide banking system to be questioned. 

But It should be noted the six European nations that are having trouble fiancing there national debt and therefore their government operations do have very small military budgets and have not been involved in wars for years..  

Come on now.  The six European nations in financial trouble - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain  (the "PIIGS" ) and Belguim - debt problems have nothing to do with military expenditures or wars. 

The problem is goverenment role? in ?m?a?n?y? ?w?e?s?t?e?r?n? ?????????????countires has grown? ?t?o? ?u?n?s?u?s?t?a?i?n?a?b?l?e? ?p???r?o?p?o?r?t?i?o?n?s?.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ? ??I?n?c?l?u?d?i?n?g? ?t?h?e? ???U?n?i?t?e?d? ??S?t?a?t?e?s?.? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Amy Ho-Ohn | 12/28/2011 - 7:04am
Certainly, it is morally wrong not to repay a debt voluntarily incurred. But the role of the higher education industrial complex in the student debt crisis should not be overlooked. Many universities deliberately encourage students to take out large loans that it is obvious they will find difficult to repay on the salaries they can expect to earn with the degrees those same universities offer. Worse, in many cases, the institution is aware the student is not likely to even complete the degree. Once the tuition dollars have been shoveled into the universities' cash register, their concern for their students' futures often evaporates.

The eminently sensible Megan McArdle has proposed requiring the institution to undertake some of the risk, perhaps even to repay the entire loan if the student defaults after making a bona fide attempt to repay.
C Walter Mattingly | 12/28/2011 - 5:02am
Hi Karl (#12),
Evil Trinity member # 2 Mattingly here!
While ad hominem attacks are not uncommon for those who substitute castigating and impugning others who offer fact-based but unwelcome commentary when they have little to offer in the way of specifics or facts or desire to engage in genuine dialogue, it is still customary to encounter what that other actually said to provide at least the pretense of such engagement. As it is, your comment is left as mere invective shorn of substance. So among your quotes of Lady Whomever, etc, perhaps we can implant some specific, substantive dialogue.

While I am among the 65%ers or so who question the motivation and authenticity of a large segment of the Occupiers, I am unfortunately nowhere near the 1%er Bill Gates types in income the Occupiers demonize. Therefore it is not surprising that some in my family are paying back student loans that our taxpayers were generous enough to provide them, offering subsidized loans to pursue advanced education. This repayment is not easy for them; in fact, it is a burden that given present circumstances is harder than they anticipated. Yet they appreciated the generosity of the taxpayers' extending subsidized loans as they did not have established credit and took advantage of the offer. Having integrity to their word and the moral obligations they assumed when they borrowed the money, they are repaying those loans they sought and were granted by the goodwill of the nation's taxpayers.
The Occupiers of New York and elsewhere have taken a different approach. They have not asked for easier terms or extensions of credit, which have already largely been granted within the program, but rather have called upon others to join them in renouncing their commitment to repay, in effect, to break the law and stiff the US taxpayers who extended them the subsidized loans in the first place. Though not their only demand, this was one of the first major calls for action by the Occupiers.
So we arruve at the core of the dialogue, Karl. What you apparently call this a "petty legalism," others refer to it as living up to their commitment or honoring their word.
 
So here we arrive at your final words of condemnation, Karl. Which of these points of view represent integrity to word, respect for the property of others, which conforms more closely to those politically incorrect "shall nots," Thou shalt not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness? Which of the two, the one who follows the integrity of his word and attempts to repay the subsidized loans, or the one who follows the Occupiers and violates not only the law but his personal integrity of the obligation he assumed when he asked for the loan? Or as you so eloquently put it, which one is "small-hearted, small-souled, self-serving, and unworthy of the Gospel" as opposed to the actions that merit "well done, faithful servant?"
 
Liam Richardson | 12/27/2011 - 10:50pm
Ah, yes, we have the firm of Maher, Mattingly & Cosgrove et al. making a thinly disguised warmed-over Lady Marchmain gambit:

"I became very rich. It used to worry me, and I thought it wrong to have so many beautiful things when others had nothing. Now I realize that it is possible for the rich to sin by coveting the privileges of the poor. The poor have always been the favourites of God and His saints, but I believe that it is one of the special achievements of Grace to sanctify the whole of life, riches included. Wealth in pagan Rome was necessarily something cruel; it's not any more." 

The problem with this gambit is that, despite whatever kernel of truth there may be in it, it has the deeper of problem of tiny partial truths: its protestation of truthiness is really meant to blind us to how much of it is effectively a rationalization. It's a kind of petty legalism. It is to that extent small-hearted, small-souled, self-serving and unworthy of the Gospel.



 
J Cosgrove | 12/26/2011 - 4:47pm
''The poor are the undisputed darlings of the gospel. The rich and the rest of us are in great peril of going away empty if we do not fill the hungry with good things.''


Here is a comment I made from a thread a year ago about the poor.


http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=3678


''62.  This has been going on for a couple days and I will say something provocative.  The statement 'Jesus is for the poor' may be interpreted in the wrong way.  The message isn't to solve the problem of the poor but to solve the problem of those who are rich.  
 
There was a gospel a couple months ago about the rich man and Lazarus.  Lazarus seemed to have a free ride into heaven but the rich man was in hell and couldn't even warn his brothers about it.  Are the poor getting a free ride to salvation?  And if so why should we feel sorry for them.  The person we should feel sorry for is the rich man.  After all it is he who lost all.  Why do we automatically defend the poor?  Are the poor there for each of to do something individually.
 
My point being is that when we try to solve the plight of the poor through some coercive action on the masses are we really missing the point.  Is the real message that the rich must voluntarily use their resources to help the poor.  This is not saying that we shouldn't try to make society better in whatever way we can.  It is saying that each of us will be judged not by what political action we have taken but what we do individually through our actions and not by our votes on what others should do.
 
I could make a pretty strong case that the actions by liberal Democrats have hurt the poor immensely and that capitalism in general has helped their plight more than any government action.  But is that what Catholicism is all about?  It shouldn't be.  There is a line from the new testament
 
'For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.' 
 
When we have eliminated the poor by our attempts at establishing a heaven on earth have we missed what it is all about.  We are striving to reach Him not to eliminate every possible source of discontent in our world.
 
Did Jesus actually come for the 'rich?' '' 
Bill Mazzella | 12/26/2011 - 2:31pm
I think it is correct to say that the gospel is not Marxist while at the same time to acknowledge that many Marxist principles agree with the gospel. The gospel does not promote taking money from the rich but it does say that the rich are in severe danger of going away empty. While the church as empire as virtually ordained riches Jesus preached that the poor have the good news preached to them while the blind see and the lame are healed. Christianity, very much in this country, and for too long has been the church of the rich rationalizing and making the gospel what some want it to be than what it is. This is why the laws of this country will not grant a living wage to home help aids saying they are really "companions" not employees. They thus do not get a minimum wage. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/26/opinion/a-living-wage-long-overdue.html?_r=1&ref=opinion    

The poor are the undisputed darlings of the gospel. The rich and the rest of us are in great peril of going away empty if we do not fill the hungry with good things.
Tom Maher | 12/26/2011 - 12:17am
The author of this article asks: "Too much of a stretch, to imagine Christ on the side of the tent-dwellers in so many of our public spaces this fall protesting economic injustice and plutocracy?" 

Indeed it is well beyond a stretch.  This question is just a reformulation of the rediculous question: is Christ a liberal Democrat? The Gospel is being exploited and distorted to arbitrarily favor particular political  views of the OWS which are in fact quite bogus compared to all other political views.  But we very well know Christ did not take politcal sides such as favoring the Jews over the Romans or Samarians.  The Gospel is not about favoring certain political ideas or groups or disfavoring other politicals views or groups.  Marxism on the other hand is very much about class warfare as is OWS. 

It is wrong to ?interprete the Gospel to be justification for marxism ideology employed by ?O?WS.  ???????O?W?S???'?s?? ?c??l?a?s?s? ?w?a?r??f?a?r?e? ?i?s??? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????i?s? n?o?t? ?p?a?r?t? ?o?f? ?t?h??e??? ?????G???????o???s???p???e????l??????????????????????????????????.? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Robert Helfman | 12/25/2011 - 9:32pm
         I am inspired by the prophetic witness of the articles in America Magazine, and wish to applaud hte writer of the above article. It is encouraging to see such observations about the OWS movement at a time when the silence of clergy concerning the financial rape of our society was becoming a source of scandal to me. 
         I also wish to say that some of the best liturgical music ever written was composed by Jesuits, most notably from St. Louis. I use some of these songs to sing to the Lord in private worship even should the "guitar mass" have fallen out of favor with the resurgent conservative in today's church. 
         And yes, Vatican  II WAS a break with the past. as another writer in this magazine reminds us. Were it not so, I would not, an adult convert, be a member of the church today.
         I will not comment on the reactionary coments of some, as the invective likely to result could not be anything but disedifying. Suffice it to say, that the corporate culture has succeeded in brainwashing a major section of the American electorate.
         "You shall know the truth, and the truth sfall set you free". So sayeth the Master, and so be it.

C Walter Mattingly | 12/25/2011 - 10:49am
It seems fashionable here to compare the Occupy movement with biblical testament, although such comparison would likely be perceived as an inflated analogy to most citizens. Yet as one of the few clear indications of an agenda we have seen come out of the movement is an encouragement of college citizen students to break the law by refusing to repay the subsidized loans provided them by generous taxpayers, one at least does seem apt. Recall the master who gave talents to the three servants, the first two of whom repaid the master not only the original talents but also with the surplus their efforts had generated with the original gift. Well done, faithful servants, was the response. The third servant, however, had merely buried his talents in the ground and returned the original gift to the master with no interest or surplus, for which he was thrown out and chastized by the master for his failure to use his talents productively. Here, the Occupiers offer us a fourth servant, one who goes to the other three and tells them all to stiff the master and not pay back the talents at all. What do you imagine the master's reply might be as the master was railed against for giving the ungrateful servant the loan to use productively in the first instance? How about, "O, ye hypocrite!"  And likely something far worse to boot.
 
J Cosgrove | 12/25/2011 - 10:42am
Linda,

Thank you for your greeting.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to you.
 
Livia Fiordelisi | 12/25/2011 - 7:26am
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich he has sent away empty.

Merry Christmas, JR Cosgrove.
J Cosgrove | 12/24/2011 - 4:29pm
There is a flawed proposition in those who defend the OWS movement.  It is that one can help the poor by somehow taking from the rich or limiting the activities of the rich.  This a rather dubious proposition.


I am in no way defending the activities of many of the rich here but I believe defending the OWS movement gets in the way of what is really necessary to help the poor.  Maybe that should be the proposition we should pray over this Christmas.  How does one create real opportunities for the poor (both those who are financially poor as well as spiritually poor) to get out of their predictament or circumstances.
Andy Beigel | 12/29/2011 - 12:00pm
Mr. Cosgrove 
I agree that if sat down over a beer and a hamburger (my rural roots) we would find a great deal in common.  I did read the article you lilnked and agree that there is a difference between Wall Street and individuals who work at their business and do not game the system.  
I used to live near New York City and recognize the good the Rockefellers have done; even more I attended college in the Adirondaks and know much of the good they have done up there.  I think that you have hit the nail on the head so to speak - there  is a difference between the Wall Street millionaires and those who see their money as a means of social change and social good.  
Thank you for your response and I wish you well. 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 12/29/2011 - 9:29am
" ... if you want to discuss specifics then start a dialogue and not cast negatives at people."

I personally am willing to pay more taxes for these things:

First, programs that provide housing, food security, literacy training, heating oil assistance and such for the poor. I know some people take advantage of these programs. But I would rather pay for ten deadbeats than see one genuinely destitute person freeze to death in the streets.

Second, it seems to me (I know this is not popular.) we will have to provide some "make work" for a certain fraction of the low-income population. There are just too many people who are not employable in the modern economy. This is due to many factors: decades of neglect of schools and public health, smart robots, sub-optimal immigration policies, etc. But the Church is absolutely right that gainful employment is a necessity for human dignity.

We don't need to resort to the old 1930's fill-the-ditch/dig-the-ditch sort of thing. But we probably will have to pay to have some things done rather inefficiently.

Third, everybody needs to recognize that the so-called "unemployed" are actually doing a disproportionate share of some of the hardest work in the country; I mean, bearing and raising children. If we don't want to end up like Greece and Italy, we're going to have to compensate them for this work and make it possible for them to do it well. I am completely OK with paying women with small children to take care of them (and maybe attend some classes to help them do it effectively). This is not "welfare" or "handouts." Somebody is going to have to pay for all of us barren, old, whitey geezers' heart valve replacements, after all.

Basically, I think we have this about right up here in Boston. The whole country would be better off if we could all just be a little more Bostonian. IMHO.
Linda Tracy | 12/29/2011 - 12:45am
One interpretation of the story of the rich man and Lazarus is that the sin of the rich man was not in being rich, but in not even being aware of Lazarus the beggar laying at his gate in suffering and in need.
ROBERT NUNZ MR | 12/28/2011 - 2:23pm
As the year comes to an end, I think we should hav ea "c'mon, man" award for posts on the blog site.
I"m torn betwen nominating Mr. Cosgrove or Mr. Maher who think taxing the rich shouldn't be done to help the poor.
OY
J Cosgrove | 12/28/2011 - 11:13am
Mr. Liam,


Do you want to truly help the poor?  I do not know what your ideas are for helping the poor but taxing the rich is not one of them as far as I can see.  If you disagree, then maybe a dialogue could ensue and each could state their case on how best to help the poor.  I do not believe making unproven disparagements against someone is a good way to have a dialogue. 


And as far as Catholic theology is concerned, it seems that it is incumbent on us individually on how we contribute our own resources, whether it is money, time, organizational skill, mental efforts or prayer to help the Church and the poor.  And taking Catholic theology further, there is the gospel story which we are all familiar with about the talents and the servants which Mr. Mattingly mentions above.  Nearly everyone listening to it assumes the word refers to the English word talent but it does not.  The English word is derived from the ancient meaning.  A talent is a measure of wealth and a talent would probably be about a million dollars in today's values.  The servant who doubled his talents was singled out as good so it is hard to envision a Jesus who disapproves of wealth creation given  this story.  In fact wealth creation is what takes the poor out of its destitute and it is critical that this is recognized by Jesus.  But as we see from other parts of the New Testament, it is critical what the rich does with their wealth creation.


To give an example, a very wealthy Catholic and member of the 1% just died last month.  His name is Ted Forstmann and he organized and helped finance something called the Children's Scholarship Fund that has helped about 125,000 inner city kids go to private schools.  Before he died last month he and his colleagues raised over $400 million dollars for these children.  Mr. Forstmann has also done many other charitable activities.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia site on this topic


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Scholarship_Fund 


It is more of this what we need, not higher taxes.  Below is a link to an interview of Mr. Forstmann by Charlie Rose about the financial crisis and what the rich should do and their obligations.  It was recorded three years ago.  What we should be doing is using the rich to use not only their own resources but obvious talents to help the poor.  Not taxing them so some bureaucrats and politicians can use the money to benefit themselves.


http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/9332 
C Walter Mattingly | 12/28/2011 - 10:43am
Amy (#15),
I agree wholeheartedly. It appears possible that both state and private institutions have adjusted their payrolls and tuitions upwards to take advantage of the funds made available by the taxpayers, partially neutering the purchasing power of the loans to the students in the process. Tenured teachers teach fewer classes in invulnerable comfort. Hopefully this is changing. Meanwhile the community colleges serve most students economically and effectively. The idea of having the institution take some of the risk seems to have merit as well.
Craig McKee | 12/28/2011 - 2:18am
I totally agree with #11's identification of the root cause: ''the worldwide problem of severe economic decline due to the accumulation of excessive and unsustainable national debt.'' However, one cannot ignore that a source of much of America's currently unsustainable national debt has come not from programs of health, education and welfare, but from WAR - an activity which, by the way, has also astronomically increased the net worth of the global 1%. Coincidence? I don't think so.
The church's professed ''preferential option for the poor,'' besides being Scripturally based, also holds out a daily challenge to each and every individual to choose between these two questions:
1) HOW MUCH can I get today?
2) HOW MUCH do I need today?
The days of ''THE ONE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS!'' bumper sticker have come and gone, after all, have you seen very many HEARSES with LUGGAGE RACKS lately?
Tom Maher | 12/27/2011 - 12:05pm
OWS movement does not have the holy purposes that the author of this article and others imagine and uncritically gush over.  OWS is a partisan political movement advocating more government spending of every type. But  OWS political agenda  does not address our current national debt crisis.  Instead OWS recklessly advocates the creation of more and bigger government spending programs and subsidies.  The assumption OWS and others make is  that the nation has limitless financial resources when in fact the United States government is struggling to finance itself by huge 1.5 trillion dollar increases in the national debt.  In the last few months the United States government indebtedness has grown to more than 15 trillion dollars which is  more that 100% of the United States Gross Domestic Product . This amount of debt to GDP is unsustainable and extremely dangerous to everyone in the nation and threatens the ability of the United State to finance  government operations at anywhere near our current  levels of 3.6 trillion dollars.
 The financial health of  the United States economy is currently at risk in the same way that Europeans nations' finances were show to be at risk.  Six  European nations have fallen into severe long-term economic decline during 2011 due to their inability to continue to finance their large government debt equal or greater than their entire economy.  This national debt trap has profoundly limited  these  nations ability to finance their government operations. Drastic spending cutbacks were required  of all government services, pensions and salaries.
 This national debt trap will likewise  impact the United States in the same way. the European nations were impacted.   OWS' government spending  agenda will only make the United States debt crisis worse.  There is nothing holy or spiritual about  the impacts of the  national debt crisis these European nations are experiencing.  This national debt trap must be avoided by the United States.
 OWS politics are part of the worldwide problem of severe economic decline due to the accumulation of excessive and unsustainable national debt.
Smith Wilson | 12/27/2011 - 7:44am
Unity plays a very imortant role in such movement and there was great response  to it from all over the world.


swim fins
Amy Ho-Ohn | 12/26/2011 - 5:44pm
It requires no obstruction of the laws of economics to see to it that no American is hungry, cold, homeless, insufficiently clothed, illiterate or living in unsanitary conditions. The cost of all this is negligible. The national budget will never be balanced or busted by this sort of basic safety net.

Health care, OK, that's harder; everybody knows health care is a budget-buster.

This is beyond liberal and conservative; basic human dignity will not corrupt anybody and it shouldn't even offend anybody's libertarian sensibilities. Christians and Brights alike should be able to agree that guaranteeing a decent human existence is primarily a matter of self-interest. Not providing it is detrimental to public safety, public health, and long-term fiscal sanity.

I have always thought nothing could induce me to vote for Obama. But I may have to reconsider if the Republicans nominate Ron Paul.