With the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.
1. The effects of childhood poverty last a lifetime:
“It turns out that poverty may affect the brain in more ways than you might think. Scientists have discovered that childhood poverty and chronic stress may lead to problems regulating emotions as an adult. The findings reveal the importance of combating poverty, especially when it comes to supporting children.”
2. Ohio has become the 25th state to expand Medicaid:
“Mr. Kasich [Ohio’s Governor], who initially declared himself an opponent of the Affordable Care Act and who has declined to set up a state online health insurance marketplace, has argued all year that his sense of Christian compassion, not to mention cool economic practicality, favored extending Medicaid to poor adults and those with disabilities who do not currently qualify.”
3. The evidence continues to pile up that early childhood education is crucial:
“While the analysis fully acknowledges that there is little, if any, difference in test scores between those who go to preschool and those who don’t, it also found that there are ‘long-term effects on important societal outcomes such as years of education completed, earnings and reduced crime and teen pregnancy.'”
4. Fox News notices that poverty is a real problem:
“We’ve had very slow economic growth, and particularly falling real wages for workers with less experience and less education for more than 30 years. So, this is a long trend in the making,” said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation.
Another study by the group Opportunity Nation found that one in seven young adults between the ages of 16-24 is “disconnected” — meaning neither in school, nor working.
5. Stanford is now offering a certificate on poverty and inequality:
“The Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality (CPI) launched a program this quarter that allows undergraduates to pursue a Certificate on Poverty and Inequality and become more involved in one of the center’s 10 research groups.”
This week’s lectionary doesn’t directly address poverty issues. So, instead, I will reflect on a passage from Ezekiel that is not in the lectionary rotation. This passage could perhaps be described as an epic rant against political and religious leaders who live in luxury, rule with force, and fail to take care of the sick and the lost.
Ezekiel 34: 2b-5: “Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not the shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they become food for all wild animals.”
But Ezekiel’s epic rant is not yet done. First, there is good news. God will be our shepherd. And then there is bad news. It’s not only the shepherds that have been behaving badly, some of the sheep have “butted at the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide,” and the Lord is going to judge between sheep and sheep.
Ezekiel 34:15-22 “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
As for you my flock, thus says the Lord God: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats: Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet?
Therefore, says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.”
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