Poverty is not sanctity

Daily Reading for June 13

Two final points need to be made to counter a sentimental understanding of poverty to which people sometimes appeal. First, poverty is not sanctity. It goes along with all moods. Depravity and viciousness are found among all; so too gentleness and prayerfulness. Second, extreme poverty is distinct from the elegant simplicity of life that many seek. It is harsh, burdensome, and not generally desirable. Yet those who live in these conditions at times flourish with amazing generosity, hospitality, and faith, and challenge our own overdependence upon material comforts and our own fear of material impoverishment. We have much to learn from them. As the theologian Dorothee Soelle writes, “From the poor of Latin America I learn their hope, their toughness, their anger, and their patience. I learn a better theology in which God is not Lord-over-us but Strength-in-us.”

From What Can One Person Do? Faith to Heal a Broken World by Sabina Alkire and Edmund Newell. © 2005 by Church Publishing, Inc. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org

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