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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Simplfy, Endure and Pray, but Work for Justice.

One of the things unemployment does is make you reevaluate your priorities and your possessions.  I was already low income, so I had little in the way of expensive services or habits to cut off.  I had already almost eliminated by CD and video buying habits  I used to haunt  I have although large numbers of books and vinyl in storage.  In the near future I will be trying to sell many of these books on line, my original intention for many of them.  I have brought a batch of them  home to begin put them on line.

I have also been going through my video collection (in my rooming house room) purging out all the mistakes, duplicates, and I'm tired of that already films. I have gotten together about 100 to 150 DVD and VHS to sell off, along with some games and x-box equipment I got from departing roommates. (I'm not a gamer.) This is a little bit to extend the unemployment funds without selling what I may find of use for film nights at church or with friends.

Today I saw on the news how many people are graduating out of unemployment still unemployed, without an income.  While the bankers have recovered and proclaimed the recession over, we are reducing our lives down to less and less. Sure, no Obamavilles have have appear yet, but the sense of prosperity is gone for most Americans. (See Hoovervilles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooverville)

Friday I was in a Bible study on the book of Job.  I think my roommate and friend Scott, in light of how many of us are suffering now (including him--he is reduced in hours at work now) wanted to study Job. Job has always been the classic study in suffering because of how well he takes it.  Not well in the sense of not complaining.  He complains almost bitterly to God over his losses and his illness.  But his complaints are a prayer to God that is not conditional on material results.  He prays because he is innocent and faithful.  He wants restoration, but he knows that God has his ways and times.  He seeks a mediator (for a Christian that is a foreshadowing of Christ.) We suffer in this life not as punishment for sins (for we are all sinners, even a Saint sins seven times a day and yet our suffering is not allocated according to our sins) nor for the sins of others (except in the sense of original sin).  Most of our suffering is either natural, or if inflicted by man, seldom has a just cause.  And yet most of the suffering others inflict on us is not deliberate or mean spirited, but simply from the shortcoming of economic and social activity, or the alienation and poor communication that divides us.

  Later in the Bible we read Ecclesiastes where it addresses this by saying "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity." We suffer a life that makes no sense unless there be a God.

So immediately like Job, I see the need to pray, to argue my case with God.  Not because he will necessarily restore me in this life.  I may die poor.  That's Gods choice.  But because either in this life or the next I want him to restore me.  If I am in the wrong let him show me.  If I am not, I still have faith in him, but I seek through his son mediation for restoration of my well being.

However, we are not to be fatalists either.  The old saying that God helps us when we help ourselves applies. We who are poor or unemployed are to seek justice, are to seek social change.  That is the lesson I get from Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers movement.  We don't have to choose being the spiritual and the seeking of justice.  In fact they need to be tied together.

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