HELPING THE POOR: IT'S ALL ABOUT US
OK, I'm just a lousy atheist, so obviously I have no moral compass whatsoever, but I'm a bit puzzled by this exchange, from a Beliefnet interview with right-wing senator and longshot presidential candidate Sam Brownback. I thought the point of helping the less fortunate was, y'know, to help the less fortunate, not to get your own ass into heaven. Brownback, however, seems to disagree:
It has been said that the most profound moral issue of our time isn't abortion but an economic system that oppresses the developing world, that helps ensure our wealth and their oppression. How do you respond to that?
Well, I would sure think about it. I don't know that I would agree off the top of my head. But, I would agree wholeheartedly that we're not doing everything that we can or should for the poor, and that hurts us.
The poor will save our souls. It's the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
I mean, and that story haunts me because it's a story about us today. You know, Lazarus is a poor man laid at the rich man's doorstep and even has sores that dogs lick. And the rich man walks out gaily by him every day, dressed in purple.
And he doesn't even give--and all Lazarus wants is the crumbs from his tables, and they both die. Lazarus goes to the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man goes to hell. And he says, Lazarus, help me out. Well, I can't.
And I just look at that, and I just go, if we just engage the poor, they'll save our souls. And that's what I look at when I see--and go into Africa or poverty situations here, or even in prisons, and you actually talk with people.
I get just lifted up sky high by just engaging. And all they want are the crumbs from my table. That's what we're talking about.
And I'm not talking about huge new big government programs. What I really think we need to do is to find ways that we integrate people, in the faith community, in particular, or any community here, with African orphanages, with water well drilling programs, with malaria programs, with faith-based initiatives in prison. I mean, we will solve a bunch of social problems, and we'll save our souls in the process.
Am I reading this wrong? It's almost as if he thinks the purpose of the poor is to save our souls.
And I know the "crumbs" part is straight from the Bible, but does Brownback seem to like it a bit too much? He keeps repeating it, and it's as if he's saying, "See, all you have to do is throw these schmucks a few crumbs and you can save your soul without breaking a sweat."
Other interpretations are welcome.