Worth Reading - 10/13

1. Arthur Brooks and John Powell at the American Enterprise Institute note that a major obstacle to helping the poor is the lack of respect so many well-off Americans (including middle class) have for the poor. This is worth a read:

Research consistently finds that Americans exhibit a disturbing level of antipathy towards those on the economic margins. In a 2001 word-association study, researchers from Kansas State and Rice Universities asked subjects to rate how well a variety of words described different social groups. Compared to their ratings of middle-class people, and given no information except economic status, the average subject described poor people as 39 percent more “unpleasant,” 95 percent more “unmotivated,” and twice as “dirty.”

In another 2002 study, researchers from Princeton, UCLA, and Lawrence University asked students and adults to gauge society’s views toward several often-stereotyped groups. Other out-groups were demeaned as either incompetent but personally warm, or unfriendly but competent; only the poor were consistently classified as both unfriendly and incompetent. Americans, it seems, have a uniquely low opinion of poor people: We offer them neither our empathy nor our respect.

2. Aaron Earls is spot on with this essay about being a compassionate Christian in a world flooded with causes demanding attention:

In our age of perpetual outrage, that may be one of the most commonly asked questions. After all, the list of needs and worthy causes are unending.

Should we not be expected to voice impassioned concern for every problem and enthusiastic support for every good cause? Even more than that, why would we not be constantly, actively, publicly doing something, doing anything, doing everything to bring all the good goals to pass?

Would this not be the case even more so for the Christian? We are called to follow after the all-loving heart of God and obey the justice-obsessed Scriptures.

Doesn’t that require being passionate about every worthy cause and being intimately concerned about every injustice around the globe and across the street?

Many Christians are already doing something, but they can feel internally convicted and externally pressured to do even more.

3. In her witty style, Anne Kennedy critiques the failures of contemporary clothing fashion to accomplish the basic thing that clothing is for. It's an enjoyable read with some thoughts worth pondering.

I mean, as I was wandering around Walmart two days ago, and enjoying myself to the uttermost, it did occur to me that someone out there (probably Facebook) seems determined to force the young woman of our day into the ugliest imaginable garments. Once you start cutting bits out–the shoulder to set off the fatness of the arm, the bit midway down the leg to illuminate the fatness of the thigh, the midriff to show off the fatness of the stomach–you have misunderstood the Point of clothing.

I mean, the point of clothes is not to get the attention of the Harvey Weinstein of your social circle, no matter what anybody tells you. And it’s not to be as dowdy and covered up as possible. And its not to only be comfortable. And its not to make a few numbskulls very rich and everybody else in the world very poor. Although, I do understand, in saying this, that I am poking the eye of the entire economy of the world.

No, the point of clothes is to cover the body with gentleness and kindness–such as what God did for Adam and Eve after that unfortunate trouble over the apple or pomegranate or whatever it was. The point of clothes is for protection–your naked flesh can’t win against the elements, especially in post industrial, economically fading upstate New York. And for kindness–to cover the awkward and broken bits. And for beauty–to give you a sense about yourself in time and space that you are a person valuable enough to be clothed and cared for, not flung down by the side of the road like a ruined carcass.

4. Lottie Moon is one of my favorite missionaries. This recent post about her distinctive traits helps remind me why she is an important figure in the history of international missions.

Lottie didn’t merely play at missions but confidently persuaded others to consider the reality of people going to an eternal hell. “We implore you to send us help. Let not these heathen sink down into eternal death without one opportunity to hear that blessed gospel, which is to you the source of all joy and comfort,” she wrote.

Lottie defied the limits of generational, cultural, and missional norms for the sake of the gospel. I want to be so bold. With nearly three billion people who have never heard of Jesus, we should dare be the same kind of rebel, disrupting casual mission thinking and ambitiously resolved to get the gospel to all nations at all costs.

I’ll unapologetically ask the same words as Lottie: “Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of the Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?”

Let us go. But if we stay, let us give, so that others may be sent.

5. This episode of "Adam Ruins Everything" helps explain how systematic racism has perpetuated racial inequality in the United States.