Ethics and Poverty

As we continue through yet another year of American recession, people continue to struggle, and many are even losing homes and livelihoods. Help agencies are struggling to meet the many needs.  In an election year, politicians are utilizing the stumbling economy to blame political rivals.

But, what about people faith? What responsibility do people of faith have toward those who are struggling
and in need?

The difficulty of this problem is illustrated well by a Buddhist story about a new king who, at the beginning of his reign was told by a wise man to rule his land with great justice. The wise man advised him to alleviate poverty by giving property to the poor.

But, the King forgot this advice after a while and there was great suffering with many poor people. Some people became so poor that they started to steal. One of these poor people was caught and dragged before the King for judgement. The King demanded to know why the man had stole. The man said that his family was starving and there was nothing else he could do to avoid starvation.

In response, the King remembered the wise man's counsel and gave the thief a plot of land to cultivate and survive from its fruits. When poor people heard of the King's charity, some started stealing just to gain such a piece of property. The frustrated King dragged one such real estate speculator before him and made an example by having the thief decapitated.

Seeing the power of the sword, all the people of the land took up weapons. They started robbing and killing and the world became a hellish place of violence and greed.

The story illustrated well the troubles faced by governments and leaders. But, what should be done?

Here are some thoughts from religious texts:
“He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.”(Prophet Muhammad)
"The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want" (Jesus of Nazareth)
There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty, social injustice, inequality, oppression, environmental degradation, and as long as the weak and small continue to be trodden by the mighty and powerful. (Dalai Lama)

Who is supposed to help the poor? Are they required only to help themselves? Is this the role of government, faith institutions, or something else? What personal responsibilities do we have?

Join us for a conversation about ethics and poverty this Wednesday at Short's Brewing Company, 7pm.


Surprise Guest At unTapped

We had a surprise guest show up at unTapped tonight!

THE  D E V I L, It turns out he sits on Dan's left shoulder! :

Of course, this got Ron to observe how contemplative the Devil appeared:

The Devil Made Me Do It

Most religious people in the Western world have a concept of the Devil (or Satan). Some people see Satan as a tempter - an actual person or spirit that tries to trip us up in life. Others see the devil as God's adversary - somebody that is trying to dethrone God and place himself in charge. Others see Satan as a metaphorical concept, or a character that represents the evil of the world.

So, what do you think? Is Satan a concept? Is the Devil a cartoon that sits on your left shoulder and whispers nasty thoughts? Perhaps there is no such thing as the Devil or Satan.

Join us tonight for our conversation at Short's Brewing Company. 7pm in Bellaire!


Are We Free? Are Our Neighbors?

Christian theologian JRD Kirk wonders whether we are playing double standards with our theology. He offers a challenge:
 If we truly believe in the freedom that we say we value so highly. If we believe that God does not want to force compliance or love (for then it would not be love!) then why do we so often see ourselves charged with enforcing compliance to the will, law, or theology of God as we understand it?
Are we free to say 'no or 'yes' to God? Many people seem to believe our free will is an important part of belief. (Without freedom to say 'no', there is no choice, right?) So, this brings up a question: if we feel that it is important to have a choice in our faith, is it equally important that our friends and neighbors have a choice? A more challenging question is this: How can we say that we value others' freedom if it is not an option for them to reject our perspective?

Has anyone ever rejected your perspective on faith? Was it okay that they rejected it or were you genuinely disturbed by their rejection. How about vice-versa? Have you ever rejected someone else's perspective? What was that experience like?

I hope you can join us this Wednesday night at Short's Brewing!


In order to live man must believe in that for which he lives.
- Huston Smith
unTapped is a conversation about faith and spirituality. There are many people frustrated by being forced to think of faith in the same old patterns, and would prefer to explore spirituality in different ways.

Anything goes here. No matter where you are or who you are, we want to hear from you. Feel free to join in the conversation!

You can also join us in person, every Thursday night at Short's Brewing Company in Downtown Bellaire, MI.