As we enter the Advent season, we are taught to think about and to care for the less fortunate. A few weeks ago, Laura “The Thinking Housewife” and Auster had a series of posts about beggars, charity, the demands of the gospel, and the counsels of good sense. The topic is one that interests me greatly, rousing my Nietzschean suspicions about Christianity and challenging my views about how one is to live the double life that the gospel requires.
From The Thinking Housewife:
“The Entitled Beggar”
“Commanded to Give”
“Charity and Reason”
From View from the Right:
“Are we literally supposed to give to every beggar who begs of us?”
I find Jonah’s comment on Auster’s post significant:
I am not sure as I would go so far as to say I take issue with your contextualization of Jesus’ statement regarding begging, but I would caution that there is a point where the strangeness and sheer counter-intuitive other-worldliness of Jesus’ views, which was seemingly noticed by all at the time, is undercut by making too many attempts to line him up with the practical life-choices of a conservative, urban, resentful-of-the-squalor-of-the-left American.
While I do agree that, for example, the verses regarding the welcoming of strangers is in no way a comment on national borders policy, I do think we should recall that whoever we are, and however much try to align ourselves with the Christian way of life, the Christ remains a startling and singular figure, and there may well be directives that do not always align with what we’d ordinarily consider a convenient, prudent life-choice.
This is meant to serve not as a counter-argument, really, but more as a caution, a weight which must always remain on the same side of scale, the side of strangeness.
Proper commentary must wait. I’ll just note how queer it is to sort out the mess that is the human condition.
Also, you may wish to read my post about this topic from last year, “Effective Giving,” which offers some sound advice.