Do today’s faith communities understand that good news to the poor might imply addressing and ending the conditions that create poverty?
Decades ago, the Brazilian Bishop Dom Hélder Câmara put it this way: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist. ”
Yes, the questioning of capitalism (what Brian McLaren calls “Theo capitalism”), causes quite a ruckus. It is the People of God proclaiming Jesus as Lord, as opposed to the Empire, and it’s mythologies of “freedom” and “capitalism”. We have seen the deceptions in those words at play in the lives of the vast majority of people, and most painfully in the desperately poor. More and more of the 99% are seeing the boundaries close in on them, and so when the people begin to question the justice of this, the cries of “heresy” arise in the secular liberal democracy sphere, with “communist” and “socialist”.
Dr. Reiger describes this increasing sense of the hegemony of the 1% over the 99, and the increasing angst of larger and larger numbers of the latter, but also as the opportunity to be converted from a relative security to solidarity with others in this common predicament.
As those of us who do not belong to the one percent are increasingly pushed to the sidelines, even people in the middle are beginning to understand that we are more likely to be in the same boat with the poor and with working people. Solidarity is no longer a matter of the privileged helping the underprivileged; it is a matter of understanding what we have in common and how we all need to work together to organize and to embrace a different power.