The Least, First

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The War on Greed (starring Larry the Loophole)

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How tax loopholes aid corporate buyouts—and how corporate buyouts result in layoffs, deteriorating schools, roads, and bridges—and fabulous wealth for the richest Americans.

A great primer in about 3 min . . .

So. It’s probably not among the poorest Americans that you’ll find the biggest moochers. And it’s not what government gives the poor that causes bridges to fail and factories to close and schools to struggle. For, think of it: It would take a trainload of payments to poor people to match the revenue lost from one corporate raider.

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.Franklin D. Roosevelt

That is the heart of the issue. It is always the “least of these”- the poorest and must vulnerable – who test our commitment [to the essence of our faith].- Jim Wallis


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Written by Monte

May 7, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Palm Sunday Rebellion

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Here’s the last half of my Palm Sunday sermon.  In the opening, I talked about how obvious it must have seemed to Jesus’ Palm Sunday followers that he was beginning a military coup.  Find out why at Disclosing New Worlds.


Sagrada Familia #6
Image by Alex Millà via Flickr

There’s no question in their minds that Jesus is there to conquer. And Jesus has intentionally played the part. He knows the local puppet governor will hear. He knows the Roman military machine will hear. And he knows he’s throwing rebellion in their faces.

How will tyrants respond? Think of shouts of “Free Tibet!” in Lhasa.  Or the student uprising in Tienanmen Square. Or singing the Chechen national anthem in public in Chechnya. Peasants pitching rebellion are crushed without mercy.

Extra troops were in Jerusalem during the Passover, in preparation for this very kind of thing. Passover, after all, was about the liberation of the Jews from a foreign government. The Romans would be putting on a show of force.

He’s come to wage war, all right – but no one is understanding what kind of war he’ll fight. The Romans are small potatoes to him – he’s waging war on death and darkness and power, and he’ll defeat them all.

But the crowd’s expecting literal war. And that’s not what Jesus does.

Hosanna filio David
Image by Lawrence OP
via Flickr

How strange it is that everybody there makes that mistake, and we study it, and wonder how they can have missed it. And then our generation reads Revelation’s war-talk and assumes without question that Jesus’ will return in the future to fight a violent war. As McLaren observes, when Jesus comes back to fight, his mighty sword comes out of his mouth! I want to smack my head. How could I have overlooked the obviously metaphorical language used there?

Could we still be like the 1st century crowd, expecting Jesus to bring war? Could we be making the same mistake?  Doesn’t it matter that warfare is completely inconsistent with everything Jesus demonstrated?

But here’s another strange thing: It’s all outside the city.

See the last verse? He goes to the temple, looks around, heads for Bethany. Once inside the city, the acclaim is gone.

Outside of it, the crowds adore him. Inside of it – in the seat of religious power and government power – nobody shows up. As Lawrence Moore writes at Disclosing New Worlds: Read the rest of this entry »

A landmark: Text of the Obama speech on race

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“A More Perfect Union”
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Constitution Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tuesday 18 March 2008

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Posted in patriotism, Politics, Race

Bridgestone/Firestone -accused of slavery- buys big on SuperBowl

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UPDATE: Ahhh. I was so glad I had shared this with my church on Sunday morning before the game. The ad I saw was beautiful, even better than I’d expected (after all, how high are one’s expectations of car ads?). Watching it, I was satisfied to know that a few more people found it a reminder that those tires have run over a whole lot of very poor people.

Truth works slowly, but it still sets people free.


Want to help change the world during the Super Bowl? Tell your friends about Bridgestone-Firestone.B-F is spending about $10 million to up their corporate image via ads during the game. They’ll be looking good. But B-F has a very dark secret that makes all the snazzy car shots a little sickening: B-F exploits Africans so egregiously, it’s been accused of slavery. Consider these excerpts from Foreign Policy in Focus:

Liberia is rich in natural resources and Africa’s largest producer of natural rubber. It is also one of the world’s poorest countries. Liberia’s impoverishment is directly related to the wealth … that because of a history of inequality and exploitation benefits multinational corporations and some wealthy Liberians at the expense of the citizens of Liberia. […] Firestone Natural Rubber Company … has experienced increased international scrutiny for exploiting the people and natural environment of Liberia since … the publishing of a groundbreaking report … entitled “Firestone: The Mark Of Slavery.” […]

Bridgestone/Firestone North American has become the largest tire and rubber company in the world … Firestone’s rubber plantation occupies a large percentage of Liberia’s land mass and was, as a result, for a time responsible for more than half the tax revenue in the country. […]

Firestone’s officially 14,000-person Liberian workforce is comprised mostly (approximately 70%) of rubber tappers … Tappers and their children are held in virtual bondage, isolated from the world on a million—acre plantation and dependent on Firestone for everything from wages to lodging to food and medicine, all of which are desperately inadequate. … housing has not been renovated since its construction in 1926. Most of the houses do not include running water or indoor toilets. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 3, 2008 at 1:01 am

How Big Business raids the third world thru the World Bank

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The Secret History of the American EmpireRemember Halliburton, and the suspicion that Mr. Cheney had directed vast Iraq contracts to it? The suspicions arose for a reason: apparently, it’s been SOP for government and multinational corporations since WWII.

I’m reading John Perkins’ phenomenal The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption. Turns out, the World Bank and IMF are tools by which multinational corporations use government to re-direct billions into their own coffers. Here’s the tip of the iceberg:

Created at Bretton Woods in my home state of New Hampshire in 1944, the Bank was charged with reconstructing countries devastated by the war. Its mission soon became synonymous with proving that the capitalist system was superior to that of the Soviet Union. To further this role, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Religion