Another Monday, another post for Times And Seasons. This morning’s topic is the addition of the fourth point to the threefold mission of the Church: to care for the poor and needy. Why wasn’t it originally included in 1981? Why was it added in 2009? Read the post for my thoughts, and stay tuned for a longer treatment of the topic from Walker and me coming soon.
4 thoughts on “Monday Morning Mormonism: Caring for the Poor and Needy”
I understand the admonition to *care* for the poor to be more about individual and communal practices, not a political program. That’s the biggest problem I have with your post.
Also, inasmuch as you are arguing against a tax system that allows incentive-preserving taxes (e.g., proportional taxes) to redistribute incone,, I don’t think empirical evidence supports your conclusion, at least in any straight forward way. Inasmuch as you are not arguing against such programs, it’s not clear to me what you are arguing against. Non-market-based communism? I think most modern liberal, communist, or socialist advocates today propose working in accordance with some form of market-based system of incentives….
I have other questions/gripes, but I’ll save them for later (when I have more time).
Nathaniel can answer for himself, but as one who is assisting in the “longer treatment of the topic,” I’m arguing against anti-capitalist sentiments like this (held by many Mormon intellectuals): http://www.withoutend.org/boss-critique-nibleys-leaders-managers/#comment-13044
Thanks for the link, Walker. This is very helpful.
Although I think the point is a bit muddled in that comment, I hope you guys address one of the legitimate and important points that the comment raises — in particular, the sense in which market-based cultures tend to become more materialistic. This, it seems to me, is a very important point, and I think it is the most pressing and difficult practical matter for us to grapple with.
Anyway, I’m very excited about the series of posts you guys will be doing, b/c I think these are very important issues and they are too frequently discussed by rather naive anti-capitalist ways. I especially hope that you address the not-merely-political issues, that regardless of whether we are more or less sympathetic to redistribution-heavy politico-economic policies, we must face the challenge of preventing the increasingly competitive global economy, and our lives that are so imposed upon by economic concerns, from crowding out a focus on more spiritual concerns — concerns that transcend merely economic ones.
Too often, it seems to me, the attitude Nathaniel is suggesting leads to a rationalizing attitude that my *spiritual* responsibility is primarily to contribute to economic growth (as a kind of parallel to the Friedman-like logic justifying a narrow focus on maximizing shareholder value), and so this absolves me of giving to the figurative (and literal) beggar that I encounter on the street. Of course I doubt that you or Nathaniel mean this, it’s a common enough attitude that I hope you will explicitly warn against the danger and seductive nature of this rationalizing attitude….
Thanks for your comments, here and on the T&S post. I’m grateful for the replies so far because they’re definitely helping us refine our arguments. In some ways, this was like a trial run of the longer, more formal argument that we (Walker and I) are working on together.
I don’t know if we’ll get to all of your concerns in just one article, but I definitely think they are important concerns. I think this is a vital area of inquiry that has had far too little attention from folks who have both some technical expertise and also a fundamentally theological/spiritual perspective. To me, it is all part-and-parcel of the idea that we must find spirituality in the mundane as opposed to having a kind of dualistic attitude where practical considerations operate under one set of principles and assumptions and spiritual considerations operate under another one. That is really Walker’s specialty, and it’s why I’m so excited to be writing with him.
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