Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Love for the Sojourner

Deu 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  

This is one of several reasons I cannot vote for Donald Trump, and one of the reasons I am an uncomfortable Republican.  Love and care for the stranger, for the aliens among us, is one of the fundamental attitudes of God, and therefore should be fundamental to God's people.  There is no question about what is meant: the Israelites were a foreign people living and working in Egypt during a time of famine and therefore economic hardship in their homeland, and were discriminated against by the Egyptians in later years, to the point of slavery.  They were not just visitors to Egypt; they had migrated to Egypt and settled there while poor and needy. 

Love and care for the stranger, for the alien among them, was everywhere enjoined upon God's people in the Old Testament, always referring back to this fact that they themselves had once been oppressed aliens in a foreign land.  In the New Testament, this concept is brought forward even more explicitly and strongly, in that non-Hebrews were not only to be tolerated, but were also given the right, with the Jews, to become God's people with equal inheritance.  

Definition of citizenship and immigration regulations is clearly the right of the sovereign state, but God's people cannot think that advocacy for prevention of immigration, especially the immigration of the poor seeking better economic opportunities, much less the advocacy of restriction of rights to aid and healthcare and education, is Godly advocacy.  Do we really think Jesus, if he could vote in US elections, would vote for sending poor families back to their poor land of origin so that we Americans could enjoy a still better standard of living?  Is that not precisely what Israel was told not to do?

God is specifically concerned for the poor, and specifically concerned for aliens.  The alien poor are doubly his concern, and should be ours also.  Sorry Donald, and sorry Republicans, but I can't be with you on this issue. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Alas, Babylon

I have just been reading Isaiah chapter 13 and following; an oracle against Babylon.  What a perspective one gets from reading literature that is over 3000 years old!

Babylon was the premier empire and culture of its age.  Huge public works, a walled city, a complex government with grand viziers and satraps.  It was beautiful and prosperous.  Almost certainly the people who lived during its prime could not imagine a world in which it was not preeminent, let alone nonexistent.

Now, some 2500 years later, it is utterly, completely gone.  Covered by sand.  No trace except archeological digs.  Again, gone.  First it was overthrown, then abandoned and occupied only by wild animals, as described in the prophecy, then (now) simply gone.  How sobering.

Today we in the US, and certainly in the "West" generally, consider ourselves "the greatest people, the greatest nation, nothing like us ever was."  

   We worry about ISIS.  We worry about economic slowdown and collapse.  We worry about global warming, that will cause desertification of our tropics and inundation of our coastal cities.  From the 3000-years-hence point of view, all these fears will almost certainly be realized.  We will be utterly gone and forgotten, just like the Babylonians.  The Egyptian pharaohs, The Medes and Persians, the Roman Empire.  Read the beginning of Ecclesiastes.  There will be no remembrance of us.  

Does nothing last?  If our greatest works become dust and ashes, to what end do we live?