Monday, March 26, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, "An Easter Hymn"
In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No one can heed all of these anniversaries; no one can ignore all of them.
A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here
A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Irony - long on the sick list - has finally died.
No, not died. Irony was brutally assassinated, point blank, mafia style.
It is a cynical world and I'm not naive, but this latest news is so over-the-top as to be nearly unbelievable.
I'm talking, of course, about the latest news about the new Lorax movie.
You remember Dr Seuss' beloved book, The Lorax - a silly but powerful warning against the twin dangers of commercialism and attacks against the environment. This book has been an environmental primer for over a generation.
And, as things go, there is now a CG animation movie made of the story which is fine, as far as that goes. But along with any new kids' movie these days, there is always the commercialism that goes with it. And that is to be expected, if deplored.
But this time, they have really gone over the top: Mazda is using the Lorax (he who "speaks for the trees") to shill their "Sky-activ" SUV!!
In the commercial, you can see a pristine Seuss Land with the colorful Truffula Trees and humming fish and clean skies, and then, driving through this Eden, you see the clean pretty Mazda SUV.
To use The Lorax to shill something so diametrically opposed to the message of the book... it's just disgusting and amazing (they actually say that this SUV has the "Truffula Seal of Approval..."!!) Did Mazda really think there would be no pushback to such a cynical display of the worst sort of commercialism?
yuk. yuk. yuk.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Continuing in Job...
[Job speaking...] I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me...
Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.
Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.
...I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls...
[Job, still...] If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?
Did not the one who made me in the womb make them?
Did not the same One form us both within our mothers?
If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,
if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless - but from my youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided the widow -
if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or the needy without garments, and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep,
if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint.
For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
[Job's friend speaking...] Is God not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of God's hands...?
...God's eyes are on the ways of mortals; God sees their every step...
God punishes them for their wickedness where everyone can see them, because they turned from following God and had no regard for any of God's ways.
They caused the cry of the poor to come before God, so that the Lord heard the cry of the needy.
As noted in the previous post, Job moreso than most books of the Bible must be handled carefully. Job's friends speak, but not every word from them is a good word. Job speaks, but not every one of his rants speak for God.
Having said that, I think we can see clearly in Job, the great reverence/importance that ancient Jewish folk placed on the treatment of the poor and otherwise marginalized.
How one treats the poor and marginalized and how one deals with one's employees and customers is a measurement of one's morality. Even the "friends" of Job with their sometimes flawed reasoning echo this great biblical concern, and do so frequently and emphatically.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Part of an ongoing series looking at all the many passages in the Bible that deal with wealth and poverty issues. You can see the links to the other passages in the series under the heading "The Bible and Economics" below.
Today, I'm looking at the book of Job, which is a different sort of book than most of the Bible. The book is included with the books of Poetry (along with Psalms, Ecclesiastes, etc) and tells the story of Job.
Job is a very wealthy man who was always considered to be wise and moral. Then suddenly, terrible things happen to him. His children are all killed. He loses all his wealth. And finally, he becomes ill with a painful skin disease.
The majority of the book involves conversations between Job and his three friends (although, perhaps not such great friends) about the nature of life, God and human suffering.
Because of the poetic/parabolic nature of Job, one must be especially wary of lifting individual verses out of context. Not everything that Job or Job's friends suggest is reliable or morally sound.
With that said, here are some passages that touch on their ideas of wealth and poverty and related issues...
[Job's friend speaking...] If I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before God... provides rain for the earth; God sends water on the countryside.
The lowly, God sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety...
God saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; God saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth...
[Job's friend speaking...] Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung...
His children must make amends to the poor; his own hands must give back his wealth...
What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving; he cannot save himself by his treasure...
[Job speaking...] Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?
...There are those who move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen.
They drive away the orphan’s donkey and take the widow’s ox in pledge. They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.
Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labor of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children...
The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.
Lacking clothes, they go about naked; they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry...
When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up, kills the poor and needy, and in the night steals forth like a thief...
[Job speaking of his own righteousness...] Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing.
I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.
I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger...
More to come...