September 6 - 12, 2004
The Left Behind series has captivated the religious imagination with visions of a post-rapture world. But reports and statistics about the conditions of the American economy reveal who is really left behind: American workers.
Check out this week’s Gleanings for sobering viewpoints and facts.
Closest to the point, while worker productivity rose by 12 percent in the last three years, median household income dropped by 3.4 percent, the Economic Policy Institute reported in its study, The State of Working America 2004/2005. In previous generations, wages rose proportionately with productivity gains, the report notes.
“While workers have been remarkably productive in recent years, they have not participated in the benefits of their own increased productivity,” concludes Bob Herbert in a syndicated column. “That doesn't sound very much like the American way.”
Others have concluded the same thing.
“The U.S. economy is imprinted with a collection of American ideals about work and life. Chief among them is the belief that those who are willing to put in an honest day's work will have food on the table and a roof overhead,” writes The St. Petersburg Times in an editorial. “This Labor Day, amid an anemic jobless economic recovery and a growing disparity in household incomes, that ideal seems almost quaint.”
“Corporations are making record profits, but wages are low,” labor organizer Donald Criss said in the Texas City Sun. “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There has always been a division between rich and poor, but that division is growing more and more. I don’t see how that could possibly be any good.”
Christians have always been concerned with the welfare of those whom Jesus characterizes in Matthew 25 as the least among us. And when the greatest economic engine the world has ever known prospers some people and leaves behind the least among us, it’s an issue for stewards.
-Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor
Management: A Spiritual Exercise
"What would happen if we accept God’s gift of tithing when we accept God’s gift of money? If we give off the top, we claim our place as 'givers' before we admit that we are 'consumers.' That puts our priorities in order and establishes a framework of gratitude around the rest of our financial affairs." By Henry Morris, pastor and stewardship consultant.
should God care what we believe?
"God wants us to know how much we are loved. God sent God's son for that very purpose. Jesus nailed to a cross is the only picture God has ever sent us of who God is. That is the ultimate statement of love for all of us." In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.
is not about money
"Stewardship is about being a person of character who is worthy to be given a great trust and being found faithful as we carry out the will of the master. Even if money is involved in carrying out our trust, it is only a tool that is used as we carry out the will of God." By Pastor Jim Bliss of Resurrection Lutheran Church (ELCA), Dublin, Calif.
Every member visits: Challenges as opportunities
"People are learning that stewardship is not a dangerous monster threatening to break into their homes and steal their money. Commitments to the Lord and His church are generously given following a visit by trained visitors to every member household." By the Rev. Kurt Wandrey. In the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.
Weekly Gleanings, a sampling of articles with stewardship implications from the popular press.