In Other News – Malcolm Gladwell Points Out How the Poor Will Be With Us Always

One would not know there is news outside of Caitlyn Jenner and The Duggars. These two stories continue to dominate. On the one hand many of us are grappling with a subject we know very little about – transgendered persons. On the other hand some of us are shaking our head over a subject we hear too much about – unreported abuse.

Is It All About the Ratings/Traffic?

nielsonBoth stories draw ratings. Why else would the media be spending so much time and energy reporting when there are plenty of other newsworthy subjects?

My friend Marty Duren wrote a piece on Caitlyn Jenner, For God So Loved Caitlyn Jenner. Traffic to the post crashed the shared server on which his blog host maintains his site. Marlee Matlin Tweeted it. The Washington Post picked it up. His follow-up piece, Loving the Way Jesus Loved, has not garnered the same traffic.

The first post obtains to Christian spiritual transformation. What we face that we do not understand, especially where people are at the center, we must address what we can control, our reactions. They should be governed by love. His second post points up that love is not sentimentality and that underneath our first move to love the other/Other remains questions that haunt what we do understand.

Most of us do not like events that unsettle our already formed beliefs. We rarely think about how our own actions subvert those same beliefs. We just keep trucking on thinking our beliefs and our actions follow in lock step.

That brings us to the Duggars.

I care not to rehash the details of the family and my points of disagreement with some of their personal convictions. Instead, I am interested in the way the Christian Industrial Complex creates an environment that  harbors what we abhor in those considered outside the Christian in-group. Imagine the internal institutional dissociative disorder that would allow a parent to say, “The girls were asleep. They did not know what was going on.”

And, Dennis Hastert resigned from the Board at Wheaton.

No, I am not suggesting that Wheaton knew anymore than the Family Research Council. But, there are too many stories, on a much lesser scale, where in an attempt to protect an image, a belief is shuttered in favor of the perceived pragmatic benefit. Sadly there are plenty of these illustrations in the Christian Industrial Complex at its highest levels and its remotest locations.

Transformation does not come simply by changing our beliefs. We prove too often how we subvert our own beliefs.

Don’t Get On Malcolm Gladwell’s Bad Side

gladwelltwitterMeanwhile, John Paulson gave a $400 million gift to Harvard. According to this story, that brings Harvard’s endowment to $36.4 billion. There is big money in higher education, just not for students.

Gladwell found out about this and he took to Twitter.

Looks like Gladwell is practiced as a Twitter Outlier!

The Poor Will Always Be With Us . . .

Now here is a real story. We spend hours reading everyone else’s opinions on Caitlyn Jenner. Guilty. We spend hours thinking through our own responses. Guilty. And, an issue the world faces, not just Christian people, gets glossed by an Annie Leibowitz photo shoot.

pooralwaysWe need the Jenner story. It continues to anesthetize us to larger problems that combined humanity does not have the will to face down. Can you see how there is little hope for Caitlyn? If we cannot muster the will to talk these billionaires into eliminating poverty worldwide in favor of a school named in their honor, what hope do those transgendered persons have who do not have the fame and notoriety of a Caitlyn Jenner?

You may have decided on an ontological answer for Caitlyn’s situation. You may have a prescription for how she might find freedom that may not come with a gender transition. You may want to point the world to how right you are and how wrong others are. But, if we cannot identify a huge human need, like poverty, and agree to address it together, how in the world could you possibly think you could offer, even in the Name of Jesus, something hope-filled?

And, that is what Jesus meant by the poor will always be with you. For our chief interest most often lies in how right we are in contrast to others. Everyone loses. Most of all, the people most marginalized and shunned who desperately want to fit in somewhere, remain forever outside all in-groups.

Sadly, these stories illustrate just how wrong we all are, together.

The Open Hand

Metaphors may help us. Capturing the imagination and pointing to possibility comes when our rupture old patterns with new ones. Jesus described it as new wine in new wineskins. Since it is hard to find any new metaphors under the sun, how about we return to an old metaphor as a future, even current, possibility.

The first mention of the poor’s interminable presence in the Scriptures is in Deuteronomy. Written to admonish the haves, the writer suggests the key to hope for the poor is an open hand. What if we extended that metaphor beyond the willingness of the haves to open up to and for the poor of the world financially? What if we could see in that metaphor a way to grasp the hand of those who suffer on the edges of our world of binaries? What if in an open hand we find ourselves transformed by the very love we claim to posses?

Maybe then, just maybe, our actions and our beliefs would find a hope-filled alignment.

If you should ignore the open hand, surely there may be judgement.

And, Gladwell may Tweet about you.

Featured Image – Malcolm Gladwell

Image Credit – Nielson

Image Credit – Keep Things As They Are

Image Credit – Reaching Hand


About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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