If you take the Bible literally…

My friend Bill Elwell e-mailed me this quote by Marilynne Robinson, a Christian novelist whom I greatly admire.

marilynne-robinson41People who insist that the sacredness of Scripture depends on belief in creation in a literal six days seem never to insist on a literal reading of “to him who asks, give,” or “sell what you have and give the money to the poor.”

In fact, their politics and economics align themselves quite precisely with those of their adversaries, who yearn to dis-burden themselves of the weak, and to unshackle the great creative forces of competition.

The defenders of “religion” have made religion seem foolish while rendering it mute in the face of a prolonged and highly effective assault on the poor.

I am wary of overgeneralizing.  I would never say that Biblical fundamentalists as a group fail to follow Jesus’s teaching about giving to the poor.   I’d guess, for example, that there are Creationists in the Salvation Army, which does as much to help poor people as any organization I know, and whose political and social program, if enacted, would make the world a better place.

I recall that, 15 or so years ago, I was part of a team of volunteers for Catholic Family Services, helping resettle refugees from other lands in their new home in Rochester, N.Y.  I am a Unitarian Universalist, our team leader was a Lutheran woman and our other team members were an Irish Catholic women and a born-again Christian man, with amazing stories about people whose lives were transformed overnight by a single revival meeting.   We worked together very well.

All that said, I think we all have encountered the type of person to which Marilynne Robinson refers.  If the shoe fits, put it on.


Marilynne Robinson interviewed in the American Conservative.

Marilynne Robinson interviewed in the Atlantic Monthly.

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