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Extortion in the name of Jesus? Lord, have mercy.
It might be better for me just to turn up the music in my earbuds and make sure that I don’t read the newspaper anymore. In fact, it seems like people who are just ignoring the news altogether are happier. Getting upset about the government shutting down is irrelevant to many of us mainly because the government seeming does nothing for the common person, and so if it’s shut down, it doesn’t matter because the people shutting down apparently aren’t working anyway. (This Congress has passed less laws than any other one in modern history.) But I think Jesus would be upset. Extortion is an evil strategy and I think Jesus would rage against the machine and defend the poor, who are getting the mud end of the stick here. The stick that Ted Cruz and company can’t see clearly see in their own eyes, that is. Here’s what Cruz tweeted the other day and how I responded: https://twitter.com/Jonnyrashid/status/387191757328617472 I really meant that. What the U.S. House of Representatives is doing, as Miley Cyrus comically put it on SNL last week, is blackmail. Pundits on the left have been saying it all along. House Leader John Boehner said this last week:
"All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow."
And this isn't a G.O.P. issue fundamentally, it really has to do with a radical faction of Republicans that are controlling the House who are committed to ending the President's signature piece of legislation--whose main purpose is to give Americans that can't afford insurance, insurance. The hostage crisis that the House of Representatives and the Tea Party have waged on the poor in the U.S. has been in planning for months--not surprisingly the Koch Brothers and the Heritage Foundation are at the center of it!
Just to let you know, other Republican leaders like Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, John McCain, and James Baker have all disagreed with the House's ideology. It bad governance, for one, and for another, it's about a law that has been such for three years, signed by the president, and affirmed by the conservative Supreme Court.
The problem that I have with all of this is that much of this is done under the guise of Christianity. Ted Cruz is known as a fundamentalist Christian. I'm trying to help people follow Jesus and I am certain that Cruz is an obstacle in my way. People are leaving the church, in my experience, because they fear that we are like Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz's dad has a church in Texas that preaches the prosperity Gospel (good believers and followers of Jesus are rewarded financially, to be it crudely).
As a Christian, I need to disassociate myself from other people in order to help redeem the world for Jesus. I don't have a political agenda, generally, but I do have one that steers potential followers of Jesus away from people's whose radicality and extremism and disregard for the welfare of others keeps them at a distance from Jesus.
Someone might need to get on the floor of the U.S. House and preach James 5 at these haters of the poor:
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
Wicked policies actually not only starve the poor, when so-called Christians are perpetrating them, they starve them from salvation too!
And what's the all over? A policy that will apparently save my family about $100 a month in insurance costs. I stayed up late enough log onto the Obamacare website and signed up for cheaper health insurance (that offers me the same thing my current plan does), it's just cheaper. It actually worked for me.
The argument from John Boehner and company is that Obamacare isn't popular. Well at noon on Sunday when I couldn't log on, it seems to be very busy. I imagined it like the grand opening of a restaurant where the line was a mile long. And unlike Comcast, who kept me on hold for about 30 minutes that day, when I called the government to ask for help, I got it in just a few minutes.
I don't give the anecdote to really declare my support for Obamacare. It's a corporate mess and it keeps evil insurance companies (who need their own James 5 preached against them) alive.
My main point is that I have a sword in my mouth that speaks for the poor in the United States and Jesus issued it to me. I want to use it to speak prophecy against the extortionists that are holding the nation hostage--not just from their material needs (health care, food stamps, etc.), but also from getting a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I think, in Circle of Hope, we offer the fundamental antidote to the fundamentalist Christianity that is rejecting the longings of the poor--the least of these, whom Jesus is also in.