Always with us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor

Politicians like to misquote Jesus to slash programs for the poor. Republican congressman, Roger Marshall of Kansas misused a quote from Jesus to support his program to reduce healthcare benefits for the poor. This is from the article on Stat from March 3rd, 2017:

“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” he said. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Did Jesus really say, “The poor will always be with us?” What is the exact quote? What is the context? What did Jesus really mean? How do we respond to politicians who use the Bible and Jesus to cut aid to those most in need?

Liz Theoharis is fighting back. She is the founder and co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and coordinator of the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Theoharis has spent the last two decades organizing among the poor in the United States and worldwide. She is the author of Always with us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor.

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Stand Your Ground: America’s Love Affair With Lethal Self-Defense

The good citizen defends his castle.   Punks, thieves, thugs, and rapists don’t stand a chance against a 44 Magnum in the hands of the good guy who stands his ground.   That is the myth.  The reality is that America’s love affair with guns and lethal self-defense has not made America safer, just more violent and more afraid.

Harvard Professor Caroline Light explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her book, Stand Your Ground:  A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Professor Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

Unlike the mythology of Dirty Harry and redemptive violence, America’s stand your ground culture and laws that accompany it do not protect the vulnerable against Mr. Stranger Danger.  Just the opposite.

Professor Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.

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Atheism and Christianity: Can We Talk?

Drew Bekius was a true believer.  He prayed the “sinner’s prayer” when he was three and was immersed in evangelical Christianity, starting an award-winning ministry in his high school.  He became a minister and a leader and he was skilled at the job.

But a few years ago, the edifice began to crack.   He realized he no longer could believe the things he needed to believe in order to be a minister.   Now he no longer holds belief in God or Jesus or the church.  He is now a humanist coach and is the president of The Clergy Project.  The Clergy Project is online community for former and active religious professionals who no longer hold supernatural beliefs.

In many ways Drew is still a minister at heart.  He is a caring, thoughtful person who wants to help people overcome stereotypes and to understand each other even when they might not agree.   In particular, he wants atheists and Christians to talk to each other.

We discuss his journey and his new mission that he outlines in his book, The Rise and Fall of Faith: A God-to-Godless Story for Christians and Atheists.

The Rape of Eve: Newly Discovered Texts of Resistance (Celene Lillie)

The Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 has provided a number of alternative Christian texts.   They were not included in the Bible. They have been dismissed by many orthodox Christians as Gnostic or even heresy.  Yet new scholarship is discovering the complexity of these texts and the value they have for many today.
Dr. Celene Lillie discusses three of these texts in her book, The Rape of Eve:  The Transformation of Roman ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis. In each of these texts, “On the Origin of the World,” “The Reality of the Rulers,” and “The Secret Revelation of John,” Eve is portrayed as having been humiliated by the cosmic powers but experiences restoration.  She sees these Nag Hammadi stories as affirmation of women’s value and wisdom and as myths of resistance to Roman imperial power and to Rome’s culture of rape and domination.
Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of the recently established Tanho Center and on the pastoral and adult education staff at First United Methodist Church in Boulder, Colorado. She has collaborated on and coordinated many different research projects, most recently as Director of Translations for A New New Testament edited by Hal Taussig (2013). She is the author of The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis (2017) and the co-author of The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation (2010). Her research interests include gender, violence, and trauma in early Jesus/Christian literatures ranging from the New Testament to Nag Hammadi.
   

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Change the World by Ending Human Trafficking

Justin Dillon is a former musician turned filmmaker and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Made in A Free World, a platform that brings together consumers, organizations, and businesses to dismantle the 150 billion dollar business of human trafficking. His latest book is titled A Selfish Plan to Change the World: Finding Big Purpose in Big Problems. His message to all of us, Find Your Riot.

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