MATTHEW

John L.: “I have read and studied this passage from Matthew many times. To me what it says is that we should, ourselves, dig into our pockets and give something to the needy; we should, ourselves, volunteer where we are needed, give of our own special skills directly to those in need, personally work with the handicapped, the sick and those to whom we can supply a worthwhile benefit. Doing these things by gifts to charities is a good thing but no real substitute for the direct, personal, application of the gifts that God has given to each of us. . . . When one stands before God on that final day, it would probably be unwise to tell Him that the Government has now taken over all that charity stuff and that you paid your taxes to support it. I suspect that answer would get someone an eternity mining hot tar just downwind from the sulfur pits.”

☞ I’m not sure it’s either/or. The world has grown more complicated over the last 2000 years. So if the goal is indeed to help the least among us, perhaps we should favor – or at least not oppose – programs that do. Should we really not have enacted Social Security way back when and relied instead on alms for the aged poor? No Medicare? No Medicaid? No unemployment insurance? No public schools? No Pell grants or Hope Scholarships? No VA Hospitals? No debt relief for Third World countries? I think how we vote, and the policies we support, may have even more impact than what we can accomplish individually.

Rick L Boyd: “I’m confused as well. Do you adhere to the principle of separation of church and state, or do you seek a country where the federal government attempts to install the ruling party’s vision of Christianity? I recall many complaints from the left that, under Bush, the power of the government was being used to achieve religious goals and that Bush saw himself has having God on his side. Do you now believe that God is on the side of the Democrats?

☞ I don’t believe in God at all. But I respect those who do, and the many who take guidance from the Bible, which has lots to teach. So I wonder what such folks take Jesus to have meant in that passage? Help the poor and disadvantaged personally but vote against government programs or policies that help them? I don’t see why he would have made that distinction. Would he have guided them to turn the other cheek personally but to favor wars of choice? Minister to the sick personally but vote against extending the S-CHIP health insurance to lower-income families with children? Give their own food to the hungry but vote against food stamps? Would he have counseled his flock not to vote?

NICK KRISTOF

Writing in Saturday’s New York Times:

My friend M. — you’ll understand in a moment why she’s terrified of my using her name — had to make a searing decision a year ago. She was married to a sweet, gentle man whom she loved, but who had become increasingly absent-minded. Finally, he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia . . .

Read M’s story. It could be yours or mine one day.

AN IOWA REPUBLICAN

He voted for Reagan, Bush, and Bush . . . but he’s with 76% of America in wanting the choice of a public option – see his 60-second video.

MUDFLATS

Paul Rightley: “I read [that outstanding blog post you linked to last week, that Microsoft cobwebs prevented you from posting in its entirety] and can really resonate with it, since my uncle was in the 82nd airborne and was shot (and then captured) on 6 June 1944. He talked very little about his experience in a prisoner of war camp, but one thing that I do remember was the talk of the limited amount of turnip soup. How the prisoners would spend much time talking about recipes of various sorts. I can’t really imagine what it was like on the night of 6 June 1944 to be floating in the darkness down toward an enemy-held land. My uncle’s only memory that he told us about after he jumped out of his aircraft was of seeing a C-47 hit by an anti-aircraft round and exploding into a fireball. He did say that he wondered if the paratroopers had gotten out before the explosion, but it was clear that was not at the very top of his mind. That being said, one corollary to Godwin’s law is that the party that resorts to a Nazi analogy automatically loses the argument.”

☞ Let’s hope.

 

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