The Least, First

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Pro-life, Pro-Obama

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Where can you find the lowest abortion rate in the whole world? See if this answer surprises you:
Western Europe

Douglas Kmiec

Douglas Kmiec

I found that figure on a website called Prolife ProObama, where I was greeted by a letter from Douglas Kmiec. And there a strong case is made that – well, obviously – pro-life voters may accomplish more for their cause by voting for Barack Obama rather than John McCain.

Douglas Kmiec is no fuzzy-headed liberal. He was Ronald Reagan’s legal counsel in the White House, also serving that role George H.W. Bush. Kmiec, a committed Roman Catholic, was dean and professor of law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and at Notre Dame. And he’s now a professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University.

And he writes:

  • The most frequent reasons given by women seeking an abortion are that a child would limit ability to meet current responsibilities and that they cannot afford a child at this point in their lives.
  • Unintended pregnancy has increased by 29% among poor women while decreasing 20% among higher-income women.
  • Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women.

Strange, eh? Abortion generally is slowing in the USA. So why would it be soaring among poor women?

Over at  God’s Politics, I came across Tony Campolo on the same subject:

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven.  The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

There you go.  Most women who have abortions do so because Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm

World Wealth

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Sometimes people get put out because they feel the US pays more than its share of world needs. And it is true that the raw numbers are higher from the US than from other nations.

The issue reveals something important, though: We know too little about how very rich the US is compared to the rest of the world. Look below and see a truly astonishing fact: 34% of all the wealth that exists in human civilization resides in North America.   Breathe deeply and think on that.  One third. “So what,” one might ask, “ought to be the US’ share of world needs?” [See the related post What percent of US budget goes to foreign aid?]

Read the specs:

How the world’s wealth is distributed –

the top two percent own half

Where's the money in our world?

Gizmag, in 2006, summarized a study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University:

Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe, and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90% of total world wealth. (Figure 2: Regional Wealth Shares) Although North America has only 6% of the world adult population, it accounts for 34% of household wealth. Europe and high income Asia-Pacific countries also own disproportionate amounts of wealth. In contrast, the overall share of wealth owned by people in Africa, China, India, and other lower income countries in Asia is considerably less than their population share, sometimes by a factor of more than ten. […]

[T]he richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. […]

Hear it?  The bottom half of our world’s people own barely 1% of global wealth.

We have no idea.

Let’s change it.

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Written by Monte

September 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Jesus’ preference for the poor (my sermon for January 28, 2007)

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apsemosaicstcatherinesmonasterysinai-c565.jpg[FYI: this sermon is a combined version of two – we were snowed out on January 21. You’ll see quotes here from Disclosing New Worlds, video The Miniature Earth, screencaps from Global Rich List, and Syed Abbas (supreme leader of north Pakistan’s Shia) from Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations … One School at a Time. Hope you find some good stuff!]

Early in his ministry, Jesus goes home to Nazareth. As any observant Jew would do, Jesus goes to synagogue on the Sabbath, where he’s invited to read the Scripture aloud and teach. Here’s what he reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

“To preach good news to the poor …”

What if every church in the world represented itself that way? What if our buildings said (on the outside): GOOD NEWS FOR THE POOR.

I hear those words with some discomfort. Because, to be honest, I have often scarcely heard them at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 30, 2007 at 1:27 am

About ‘The Least, First’

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The Merciful Samaritan
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I’m a pastor.

So I’m working my way through Luke’s gospel (I think it was) one year, and I realize, “Man, if I take these stories as they come, I’m preaching about Jesus and poor people week after week.”

This was a worrisome change from priorities I’d always followed.  Yet, in another way, it wasn’t:  I’d been taught to value speaking with integrity.  In recent years, especially, I’d wanted to be clearer in my own mind that what I was teaching was reflective of what seemed to matter most to Jesus.  For it wasn’t hard to see in history that religious dogmatism had trumped Jesus’ example time and again, and with sometimes horrible results.

I decided to walk through the Jesus stories and talk about what he talked about.  And if I did it with integrity, what he talked about most would be what I talked about most.

I ended up at this nexus of Jesus and poor people.  In fact, stunned by it, I asked my church one Sunday morning to tally up how many times it happened in Luke’s core chapters, 4-21.  How many times would Jesus be caring for someone in poverty (widows) or isolation (lepers) or someone considered by the culture of the day to be of low prestige (women, children, foreigners), or hated (Samaritans and tax extortioners) or thought to be under God’s judgment (adulterers and people in disasters)?

Poverty in a developed nation, as seen in Harl...
Image via Wikipedia

And how many times would he tenderly make such people the heroes of the stories he invented, scandalizing his audiences?  Telling of the “good” Samaritan would be like using a black man as a role model to Ku Klux Klan members during the Jim Crow South, or a Native American as an example of virtue in a 19th-century U.S. Cavalry outpost—or an immigrant without papers as an example of familial love before a modern anti-immigration convention.

Between the two, we counted 27 events in 14 chapters! “If we wrote the history of our church in 14 chapters, would there be two stories of our caring for disenfranchised people in every chapter?”  Hardly.  And if I were to represent the teachings of Jesus with integrity . . . well, you see the point.

It’s been a few years now.  The impression has been confirmed again and again.  “In as much as you do it to the least of these,” Jesus would say, “You do it unto me.”

If I take Jesus’ example – the least, first – and look at relationships, politics, foreign policy, race, economics, gender, culture . . . where do I end up, week after week?

Your thoughts?


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Written by Monte

February 1, 2006 at 9:56 pm

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