Category Archives: Spiritual & Religious Writings

if any man is hungry

If any man is hungry, this is both a religious and a political concern, and out of a religious concern for one created in God’s image, political means must be devised for ensuring that everyone gets enough bread — which is a suitable definition of the art of politics. —  Robert McAfee Brown The Spirit of Protestantism 1961

Brown writes that hunger is a religious concern. I think it if far more a spiritual concern. How we deal with hunger determines the depth of our discipleship and is a real indicator of just how vital our spirituality actually is. If there is no real care, compassion and ministry with those of our family lacking their daily bread, then our spirituality must be treated as suspect and is superficial at best, and at worst, a total sham.

However, Brown is absolutely correct that we must ensure the political will to empower the poor and hungry with the basic right to provide themselves food. The lack of political will  among global leaders to seriously address ending hunger is one of the single greatest obstacles to ending hunger in our lifetime.

 

forgive us

For the sin we have committed by ignoring the poor….

And for the sin we have committed by not respecting God’s image in every human being….

 And for the sin we have committed by not allowing others to become what they could be….

And for the sin we have committed by keeping silent in the face of evil….

For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.

Robert Hammer, Jack Riemer, and Jules Harlow in Yearnings: Prayer and Meditation for the Days of Awe published in 1968

“And flesh and blood so cheap!”

 

Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. – Lamentations 4:9

The words of the Prophet Jeremiah echo loudly today as we witness the brutality and senseless violence in South Sudan. The echoes can be heard in the headlines as the world’s leading relief providers have already started warning of an even uglier tragedy beginning to unfold in that young and reeling nation.

Famine is coming to South Sudan. Unless immediate response is mounted we are being told to expect the starvation, not of dozens of children, not of  hundreds of children, not of thousands of children, but to prepare for the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of innocent South Sudanese children.  These are the children who will  starve to death within the next six months, pierced by hunger, unless we act to prevent it.

Already malnourished and weakened, these children cannot survive the agony of their life draining away as it will during the hunger season. Once the rains begin the hope of these children, the life of these children, will wash away.

I am reminded of the words of Thomas Hood, the 18th century English poet. In The Song of the Shirt he wrote:

“Oh, God! That bread should be so dear!
And flesh and blood so cheap!”

Jesus as Liberator

 

There is a convergence today between the Biblical view of Jesus as Liberator, and the cry of oppressed peoples for liberation. For our own day, to “see the world through the eyes other than our own” has simply got to mean seeing it through the eyes of the poor and dispossessed. When the story of Jesus and the story of human oppression are put side by side, they fit. They are simply different versions of the same story. The cry of the hungry is overwhelming. The cry of the politically and economically exploited is overwhelming. The cry of those in prison and under torture is overwhelming. The cry of parents who know that their children are doomed to stunted and warped lives is overwhelming. . . . There may have been other emphases needed at other points in Christian history when talking about Jesus as Liberator, but I am persuaded that for this time and this place, the claim of Jesus to bring freedom, and the cry of the oppressed peoples for freedom, converge and cannot be separated.

                                                                                                                                        Robert McAfee Brown

none are so blind

I have a vision of a world without hunger. And I am committed to ending hunger in our lifetime. Like Gandhi, I know that “this world has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed.”

Meeting the real needs of the poor and hungry simply requires sharing the abundant resources with which we have been so richly blessed. And the amount needed is far less than we might imagine.

A $175 billion a year would easily meet the Millennium Development Goals. That breaks down to less than $250 a year for the 850 million of us that have an above average income (based on the average income of Portugal, the lowest income nation in Europe).

This amount, $175 billion, would allow us to cut the number of poor and hungry in half. Think about it, less than $250 a person could save millions of lives a year and bring even more millions out of the shadow of crushing poverty.

Why don’t we make it happen? Are we too selfish to care? Or is the deeper truth that we are in chains ourselves, too chained by our riches to break free enough to act on behalf of those dying from our refusal to see the truth?

The words of Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage in the third century seem appropriate.

Their property held them in chains…chains which shackled their courage and choked their faith and hampered their judgment and throttled their souls…If they stored up their treasure in heaven, they would not now have an enemy and a thief within their household…They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves.

getting the record straight

Let’s get the record straight: God don’t make no junk.

According to the account of creation in Genesis, God created the world perfectly. We read in Genesis 1:31 that, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

God don’t make no junk. That means that there is no reason for even one child to suffer from hunger in a world perfectly created. That is the world in which we live.

Do not think, even for a nano-second, that 25,000 die every day from hunger and hunger-related causes because there is not enough food for everyone.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s get the record straight. There are plenty of resources.

Here is the truth. These are the facts taken directly from Wold Hunger: Twelve Myths, by Frances Moore Lappé. I quote:

The world today produces enough grain alone to provide every human being on the planet with thirty-five hundred calories a day. That’s enough to make most people fat! And this estimate does not even count many other commonly eaten foods–vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. In fact, if all foods are considered together, enough is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day. That includes two and a half pounds of grain, beans, and nuts; about a pound of fruits and vegetables; and nearly a pound of meat, milk, and eggs.

No child dies from hunger because there is not enough food. God created the world perfectly.

There’s more than enough food for our entire human family. We just need to share. God don’t create no junk.

 

the ultimate truth

I am a poet. And although I enjoy almost all poetry, I am especially drawn to the work of mystical and ecstatic writers. The struggle to express the inexpressible is a powerful magnet for me.

One poet I read a great deal is the the great Indian mystic, Rabindranath Tagore. I recently came across a quote from him worth repeating.

In love we find a joy which is ultimate because it is the ultimate truth.

Tagore is right. Love is the ultimate truth. As the Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, wrote, “He who loves brings God and the world together.”

Isn’t this exactly what our broken and hurting world needs? Isn’t this what will lead us to a world where hunger is nothing more than a distant memory?

Abdul Baha, who lived in the mid nineteenth century, captured my feelings perfectly in I HEARD HIM SAY, when he wrote:

Let us have love and more love; a love that conquers all foes, a love that sweeps away all barriers, a love that aboundeth in charity, a large-heartedness, tolerance, forgiveness, and noble striving, a love that triumphs over all obstacles.

This is the love of dynamite power. This is the love that heals the world. This is the love that can end hunger in our lifetime. This is the love in which we can truly find the joy that is ultimate. This is the love that is the ultimate truth.

the principle of existence

As we fast approach St. Valentines Day, I thought a word or two about love might be in order. Experience has taught me that many of us have some misconceptions about the day itself, and even the subject of love.

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” Saint Augustine

The truth of Augustine’s words continue to echo down through the centuries since they were first penned by this saint. True love is manifested in action. Love is not gushy sentiments, Hallmark cards, expensive chocolates, and dozens of roses. Love is the active response to those around us most in need.

Benjamin Disraeli wrote that, “We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.”