30 November, 2009

There exists a stereotype of the Christian who states that they care about the poor but in reality they do nothing. Jackson and Perkins are attempting to dispel this stereotype of the Christian community. As always there is a biblical definition given pertaining to the subject matter. This biblical definition includes the three different socioeconomic tiers mentioned in the New Testament. To contrast that definition they also give the definition given to the word poor by the United States. They also address seven causes of poverty and four different partnerships in order to solve the poverty problem.
The Church has been seen to talk a lot about helping the poor but to never actually lift a finger. When in reality the book addresses that “a person is most likely to give if he or she is religious, conservative, and married with children in an intact home, religion being the strongest factor.” “Brooks actually found that those who build their political and social platforms on the issue of poverty are among the most uncharitable.” This is the evidence given in the book when they make a case for the amount the church donates. The statement is also made that the Church needs to be willing to vocalize their giving, but not in a boastful manner.
The Biblical view on poverty is that we must support those who are less fortunate then ourselves. This is defined grater in the New Testament into three different socioeconomic classes. They are plousios, penes, and ptochos. Plousios is the people who do not need help and “who need not work to survive or even thrive.” Penes are people who live paycheck to paycheck; or who “focus is upon meeting the physical needs of each day.” Lastly, ptochos are the “people who cannot sustain themselves because they are too old, too young, or too handicapped to work.” Out of these three classes mentioned in the New Testament both penes and ptochos are considered to be in poverty.
The book addresses seven different causes of poverty economic depression, natural disasters and wars are listed first. The book states “Hurricane Katrina ranked as the third most intense hurricane to ever strike the U.S. mainland. Louisiana and Mississippi are still dealing with damaged infrastructure and economies.” There are examples of these causes of poverty in the Old Testament the famine in the time of Joseph is one example listed. These conditions bring about a time when people have to do more with less creating extremely stressful economic times for all involved.
Government corruption, oppressive policy and persecution are the second on the list. “Persecution and improper government policies can be just as harmful to the economic well-being of citizens as a severe natural disaster.” Some of these policies include limiting specific professions by handing out licenses. This is one way the government looks out for its citizens as well as hinders them by limiting jobs. There are many laws designed to help the poor but in the end result in hindering them. The book uses rent control and minimum wage as examples.
The third cause of poverty is banking or lender abuse. “On almost any commercial city block today you will find a payday loan establishment that makes money by lending money, primarily to the working poor until the next payday.” The book claims the goal “would be for communities to help the working poor gain the life management skills that in many cases would make payday loans unnecessary.”
Breakdown in the family is the fourth cause of poverty. Today many men leave their family with no means to provide for themselves. Causing both an emotional and economic tension within the family.
Personal addictive behaviors also cause an economic strain on an individual or a family. These individuals not only have to support their addiction but their family which can be extremely costly.
Jackson and Perkins also attribute poverty to laziness. Men with this problem “are either paralyzed with fear or do not put in the diligence necessary to have true success.” Laziness is a common problem within the culture; we always are looking for the easy way out.
The book addresses the possible steps which need to be taken to stop poverty. They evolve individuals, churches, businesses and the government. According to Jackson and Perkins it is the individuals responsibility to ensure their family and community receive a four year college degree allowing them to make more money. The only problem with this is if a bachelor’s degree becomes as wide spread as a high school diploma.
The government’s role is to be fixing the long term problems which cause poverty. “When the government takes on the role of Robin Hood, people privately give less to charitable causes.” The government needs to focus not on the short term fixes of giving people money and food stamps but to avoid things like corruption.
The church needs to invest time, money, and effort into its communities in order to provide assistance to the poor. The book cites many churches which serve their community through soup kitchens, or some kind of outreach ministries which let the community that they are there to help.
Businesses are according to Jackson and Perkins to promote the causes which are too big for an individual or church. They also want the business to issue micro financing loans. In the current state of the economy there are very few businesses that are willing to hand out loans.
The overall goal of this chapter is that “serving the poor is part of our personal responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves.” This chapter did an excellent job with the biblical definition of poverty. It also did a good job when it came to the causes of poverty, though they should have been reordered in the greatest to least impact on the problem of poverty. The solutions presented to push back on poverty do not solve the problems presented they deal with one out of the seven causes of poverty.

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