In the languid days of midsummer, when church financial income is at low ebb, it is a comfort to remember that Paul too had stewardship issues in his churches. It’s not a new phenomenon. It turns out that every generation of Christians has managed to find something else to do with their hard-earned money besides offer it to the work of the body of Christ.
The new Century editorial
offers that if the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum for president,
his regular rhetoric about poverty might challenge President Obama to
engage him on it--giving voters a chance to hear two different analyses
of the problem instead of, you know, not hearing about it all.
Somewhat more quixotically, I've found myself wondering whether there's an opportunity as well in Santorum's recent claim that environmentalism amounts to a "phony theology." Stephen Prothero's reaction is to challenge Santorum's desire to draw who's-a-real-Christian lines; Rachel Tabachnick's is to trace the "phony theology" line to the influence of the Cornwall Alliance.
points both, but what interests me here is that Santorum's comments
point to one of the basic theological questions for Christian
eco-engagement: Is the emphasis on human membership in the wider
creation or on human responsibility for it?
The Joneses are surrendering!" a TV news reporter proclaims. "The family with whom we've tried to keep up is throwing in the towel!" The camera pans to four desperate looking people standing in front of a large house. "We've had it," the wife says. "We're exhausted. We never see each other. And we have so much debt that we can't keep up anymore. It's just not worth it."
In the story of David and Goliath, Saul famously insisted that David be outfitted in his own kingly armor. While this was a generous gesture, David found that he could hardly move. Rejecting the clunky armor, David retrieved five smooth stones for his sling.
Why is that man holding a sign, Daddy?” “He wants us to give him some money.” “Why does he want money, Daddy?” “Because he doesn’t have any and he’s hungry.” “Why aren’t you giving him any money, Daddy?” “Because I’m not sure he’s really going to spend it on food . . . errr . . .
This parable in Matthew is a sister to the song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5. In both cases, God is the farmer who has provided generously so that the vineyard will be very fruitful. In Isaiah, the distress is over a lack of good fruit despite fine care of the vineyards. In Jesus’ story, the fruit is good, but the trusted stewards are corrupt and self-serving.