Friday, June 11, 2010

Crack open my coconut and this is what spills out

Last week we went to a Gladney Family Association party at Noah's Ark pool. An ark full of weirdos. Awesomeness!

Where my sad attempts at a loving happy family photo came out like this:

Why, why, why do I bother.

Afterwards we decided to go down the street and try and Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile. In our bathing suits. Kause we're klassy with a kapital K. K? K.

To my sheer delight, all the kids enjoyed the food immensely

every one of them

every bit of it. Eva Rose said that the injera - a spongy, slightly sour tasting flat bread that Ethiopians use to scoop up their food - felt like a nice warm bed she wanted to crawl into.

Which was slightly odd, but sweet.

Kinda like this family.

Well, let's get real, we're more than slightly odd.

True to her Texas roots, Maggie treated it like a tortilla and made herself an Ethiopian fajita.

And I have to say that I am truly happy that my child is coming from a country that rocks the kitchenbah. I am lovin the Ethiopian food.

While we were waiting for our beautiful waitress to bring us some glory, five year old Eva Rose and I had a conversation. It went like this:

ER: Mom, are there only poor people in Ethiopia?

Me: I'm sure there are some rich people.

ER: Well, are the rich people Christians? I mean, like, do they worship the true God?

Me: Yes, most Ethiopians are Christians, so I am sure a lot of the rich people are Christians.

ER: (with a look of disgust on her face): Well then Mom, if there are Christians in Ethiopia who are rich, then WHY ARE THERE ANY POOR PEOPLE IN ETHIOPIA? Why aren't the rich Christians taking care of the poor people? Why aren't they doing their JOB, Mom?!?

Me: (slightly amused and very impressed) Well, honey, there are lots and lots of rich Christians here in America, and we have poor people here too.

ER: What?? Mom? What the freak?!?!

Okay, I made that last line up. She really didn't say what the freak. If she had I probably would have washed her mouth out with the funky Ethiopian mead that Walker was drinking because I am a parental hypocrite like that. Speak as I say, girl, not as I say, er, speak. Say. Speak.

But I must say my heart was overflowing. My girl is passionate. She always has been. For years we have prayed if only You would harness that passion for good and not evil, Lord! Because Prissy Lou is one of those take-over-the-world types. She could be Mother Teresa, or she could be Madame Tsao. Some days girl's both. Some five minute increments, girl's both.

But she had a point. A big, stinking, ugly point.

I am well aware that the situation of poverty in Ethiopia is incredibly complex.

And I am well aware that the situation of poverty in America is incredibly complex.

But the question, I believe, is still valid. If the rich people are Christians, then why are there any poor people??

Because 99.999% of you reading this blog are rich. Don't believe me? Click here. And here.

And God only commands us to take care of the poor people, like, oh THREE HUNDRED TIMES or something.

I'm also aware that American Christians do more to help the poor than anyone else in the world does. So am I saying that it's not enough? Eeeeeeee-yup. That's what I am saying. And guess what I am learning - sometimes our good intentions not only aren't enough, but they are actually detrimental.

Last week our church recommended that as a congregation, we read a book called When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Ourselves. This book has kept me up past my bedtime every night this week. I've read quite a few books on poverty lately, and this one is so refreshing and informative, I cannot recommend it enough, to all Christians - from those on the mission field to those who wonder if you should hand a dollar the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign.

And then tonight Kristen posted about something similar that her daughter said at dinner, and she got some negative comments, one in particular saying that she only posted about poverty in Africa to give a guilt trip to her readers. (To which I respond: And your point is...? Because we all reek with the stench of guilt. Take a trip. A long trip. Bring some beef jerky. And a moon pie.)

On top of all that, last week Melissa Hill (if you don't read her blog, you are so missing out) posted this quote from David Platt's book Radical (so on my wish list) that I just can't get out of my head:

We take Jesus' command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say, "That means other people." But we look at Jesus' command in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," and we say, "Now, that means me." We take Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, "That means some people." But we take Jesus' promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say, "That means me."

In the process, we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all.


Yeah. My mind has been churning this week.

Tell me, sweet invisible friends. What's on your mind this week?


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