Streams of Justice: Against recycling

The latest endorsement from Streams of Justice, Dave Diewert’s social justice group, is of “The One ‘R’ Posse”:

Communiqué from The One ‘R’ Posse!

Operation Knock Over Recycle Bin and Strew The Contents All Over The Street!
Just say no to Recycling! If you Reduce and Reuse, there is no need to Recycle. Recycling is just a way for capitalism to ride the back of environmentally conscious people with out ever having to actually change their fundamental system.

In Seattle during the anti-WTO convergence, in 1999, we set a dumpster of cardboard recycling on fire. This action was widely misconstrued as a bunch of hooligan police provocateurs attempting to besmirch the good name of respectable protesters and rioters alike.

Our goal in Operation Set Cardboard Dumpster On Fire was to prevent the recycling trucks from coming to pick it up, using fossil fuels and ever increasing road networks to bring it to the recycling depot, process it then transport it in more trucks to factories to manufacture it into goods consumers would drive their cars to malls to yet again purchase, starting this whole ‘recycling’ charade all over again. How many times can one recycled box be recycled before the recycling process itself becomes just another toxic pollutant!

After being lambasted in the corporate media and ruthlessly chastised by all factions in the Left, we stopped everything we were doing and retreated to re-evaluate and perfect our strategies. After a decade of intensive internal theoretical and strategic development, we finally returned, only to find our actions meeting the same merciless critique by our allies.

On Feb 13, 2010 as part of the convergence against the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the One ‘R’ Posse knocked over a recycle bin in solidarity with the Left, and to move forward our own cause of stopping the ‘recycling’ ruse consumers have been duped into by so called environmentalists who are decreasing their carbon footprint with one foot while just making another one with the other foot!

The One ‘R’ Posse took into consideration that setting that cardboard dumpster on fire, while preventing the production of greenhouse gasses in transport and manufacturing only added to Global Warming by adding milligrams of smoke into the atmosphere. After being thrust into the global spotlight of criticism and a decade of internal reflection, we changed our tactic. We realized the world just wasn’t prepared for the radical reality of a dumpster fire. We needed to take action that makes sense under current social conditions. Littering was the solution we chose. City workers were thus employed to clean up the plastic bottles, creating jobs and showing solidarity with Union workers. At the same time Environmentalist NGO’s can rest easy that no carbon emissions were unnecessarily created. Workers and environmentalists are finally united over the same bin!

This is beyond satire. I’ve tried to satirize these people. But the reality is so much more farcical and ridiculous than any satire that I could imagine.

This sort of thing on the part of Christian social justice group makes Glenn Beck’s recent statements seem not only justified but eminently fair and sober minded:

In recent radio show, that was broadcast on more than 400 affiliates, he told his listeners to leave any church that uses the phrases “social justice” or “economic justice.” “I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site,” he said.

“If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!” He went on to say, “If you have a priest pushing social justice go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them. [Ask them] are you down with this whole social justice thing?”   (Read more: http://network.nationalpost.com/; The National Post is now on Facebook. Join our fan community today.)

Of course in the National Post article did not interview Canadian theologian Dr. Craig Carter who has a series on the problem with the term “social justice” that pretty much agrees, in a sophisticated manner, with Glenn Beck’s warnings.

Craig Carter did two recent posts on “social justice”:

What is my beef with social justice I

What is my beef with social justice II

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O Anarchist, Where is your faith?

Christian anarchists, communists, and socialists seem to view the economic world as a pie.  You can only cut it up so many ways.  So if a rich person has a lot of money, then he has a larger portion of the pie.  For them, economics is a zero-sum game.  A poker game is a zero sum game:  at the end of the game there is only as much money as what the players originally brought to table–it’s redistributed differently, but its the same amount of money.  Thus, in the view of these people, if wealthy Christians have money, they have defrauded the poor.  That is why perhaps they support political systems that would force the wealthy to relinquish their riches; but in the end, where ever such a system is tried, everyone ends up living in dire poverty; communism shrinks the pie.  We’ve seen it in dozens of countries.  In my view, these Christians do not understand economics nor do they have sufficient faith in God:  “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11.6).

My goal as a wanna-be righteous investor is to increase the size of the pie.  Christian ministries don’t usually generate wealth themselves but depend upon Christian men and women who work jobs or who have successful businesses or other investments.  Those ministries like Streams of Justice which aim toward political advocacy requiring more funding for the poor will have a negative impact on the bottom line of these Christians and decrease their ability to give.  If we are smart, Christians donors must begin to resist the politics of envy and so-called Christians ministries which have lost faith in a big God and instead turned to big government for solutions.

I found an example of envy and of lack of vision on PoserorProphet’s blog, where he, in his typically jaundiced and imbalanced fashion, criticizes a large Vancouver church for mistreatment of the poor. The sycophants of his blog–I call them that because I’ve learned that if like me you are highly critical of Poser, he will not even allow you to comment on his blog–some of the sycophants of his blog believe that Broadway Church has defrauded the poor with the buildings which are “a country club” for its members.  The Pastor of Broadway, Darin Latham came online and defended the ministries of his church, saying that they do devote considerable resources to helping the poor:

You failed to mention, however, that hundreds of thousands of those dollars we raise feed over 150 homeless every Sunday morning of every week of the year, plus we supply groceries to 120 families every week, free of charge. We also run a free clothing depot… Not to mention a few geared to income housing complexes we operate throughout the city.

But despite his efforts, some of Poser’s readers were unimpressed:

Subversivechurch writes (sic):

Notice Darin does not touch on the topic of the operating expenses (salaries, ultilities, upkeep, etc.). And the chances are pretty high that he won’t either because when people start looking at the revenue… I mean income… I mean tithes of a church and where they go, you start to see why I refer to the IC [institutional church] as a country club. The amount of money that stays within the IC for the benefit of the members is vastly greater than the money that is used outside of the building. [snip]

Would a congregation realize that if they hadn’t built such a large structure, they could have helped a mother avoid depression by feeding and clothing her child, or a father not decend into violence because he can’t find work and feed his family?

Pastor Darin rightly defended his church as having the building to do all kinds of ministry: Christian education, counseling and worship.  For the subversives, the only thing they know is envy which sees economics as a zero sum game and God as so puny that he cannot provide all of our needs according to his riches in glory.  So they begrudge the church’s use of an expensive PA system:  Envy.  So why not have big mega-church?  Personally, I don’t like mega-churches and I think they come with their own challenges.  But if God called the founders of Broadway Church to build a mega church, then that is up to God, isn’t it?  I will testify, however, that the one time that I suffered from want I was helped by Frank Merriwether, who was at the time a College & Career Pastor at Broadway.  So I owe a debt of gratitude to that church.  Why is it that these arrogant anarchists believe that their agenda is the only one that Christians should concern themselves with.  They insist:  become like the poor, become homeless, identify with poor homeless, have solidarity with the poor–the whole world revolves around the poor.  Yet the homeless in Vancouver number about 3000.   I hate to tell you this, but there is over 600,000 people in that city and they all have spiritual needs, every single precious one of them.  It is not just about the poor.  It is about reaching out to the grandmother whose grandchild was killed in an accident and she can’t pray anymore.  It is about the parents who live in an upscale neighborhood whose daughter can’t be found.  It is about that depressed computer programmer who wants to swallow a bottle of pills.  It is about the widower who lies awake at night wondering if God is there. It’s about teaching kids about God in Sunday school; it’s about helping young people find their vocation in the Lord; it’s about helping the working poor and the working well-off, because we have spiritual needs too.  God cares for the poor, but he also cares for every single one of the rest of us too.  And it is about that guy at Regent College who was lonely and ran out of money while waiting for his student loan cheque.  John 3.16 says that God so loved the poor, right?  No, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son …  And what about these passages:

The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3.9)

This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2.3-4)

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Tim 4.10)

But why can’t a church like Broadway, if some have a vision, have strategic ministries for the poor (which they do) and keep their building?  Is God so weak that he can’t provide both everything the church needs to pay for that wonderful facility and staff in addition to ministries for the poor?  Where is your faith?  These people have a puny view of economics and they have a puny god.

What happened to the Pauline concept of the body of Christ?  Isn’t it possible to have some people care for the poor and others who care for the elderly?  Some to care for the teens and others who dedicate their time to missions?  Why should the toe or eye say I don’t need you?  Why should the belly button say if you aren’t a belly button and do exactly what I do, you are not a member of the body, and you are not doing what you should be doing for the Kingdom.  Poppycock!

The Christian God, the one and only God, is big, and he has the resources of glory at his disposal.  He can provide Broadway Church both with resources to maintain their church building and to provide for the poor, as he calls the congregation to movement.  It is just simply silly to suggest that God would insist that they use that facility for the homeless or as a warehouse for feeding the poor, etc., when it is used by the congregation for worship, Christian education, and all the other ministries.  Beware, these anarchists are trying to sow seeds of dissension and envy, and the rest of us, the evil institutional church people, don’t have to put up with it.

Is investing a sin?

I am a DIY investor.  My inspiration was my grandfather, a man whose wealth paid for most of my studies including Northwest College, Regent College and the University of Cambridge–through loans to me, through an inheritance, and through my father paying the rest after inheriting the bulk of my grandfather’s estate.  So I owe my studies to an investor.

Though I am what I am through investing, I feel attacked lately by the writings of Christian protesters at the Olympics (here, here). So I’ve been writing to explain my point of view; but others have not liked it.  One commenter critiqued the Righteous Investor thus:

I get to the end of a post like yours and feel saddened by a kind of void without content, the sort of thing that passes for serious thought in our moment. From reading a few of your posts I see that your concern is to ask, “how can people call for the redistribution of wealth if they are against wealth.” But alas there is no inconsistency, paradox or contradiction: to be in favor of the redistribution of wealth is to be against all personal riches of financial sorts, or as Dave [Diewert] says, to ‘reject the invitation to use power and privilege to secure the personal comforts of political and economic domination.’

This Nathan also was evidently upset with me for my position about Dave Diewert.  I explained that his exposition of Diewert’s thought is a direct attack on what I do.  I am in the process of accumulating wealth in order to make wealth.  That is what an investor does.  That is what Warren Buffet does.  To be against “all personal riches of financial sorts” is a condemnation of all investors.  Are you investing for your retirement?  Sorry.  Are you investing in house? Well that’s personally comfortable isn’t it? Jesus rejected turning bread into stones, so you must also reject the fruit of your own labor and divest yourself immediately of all you own and become a ward of the state, just like what Diewert wants to make of Vancouver’s street people .  I’ve noticed that Diewert’s solution for homelessness in Vancouver is that all the people of Canada must pay higher taxes (excerpts from interview with Dave Diewert):

The political elite are driven by an ideology that eases the tax burden on the wealthy members of our society and cuts the support systems for those in need. We are seeing played out before us a political agenda that views certain members of our society as disposable, useless, expendable entities. …

We need to insert our vision of the embrace of God for his whole world into the political arena, and challenge the leaders to take up this vision of care for all. The churches cannot be silent on the structural and political fronts if they are to really care for the outcasts of our society. Love of my neighbor who is homeless also involves speaking truth to power on issues of structural injustice and ideological blindness. Following the ‘Truly Human One’ (Son of Man) means working at all levels toward a truly human society, in which shared resources and mutual dignity and care are extended to all — especially the least.

And this from the Streams of Justice website:

We are finished with homelessness, tired of knowing that thousands of people across Canada are forced to sleep on the streets. Solving homelessness is not rocket science – it means providing houses and supports for people who need them, through a funded National Housing Strategy.

We call on the organizing community in Vancouver to join us in sending a message to the Harper Government that cannot be ignored!

Because it is hard to fault Diewert’s work among the poor, I think that many Christians might be unwilling to criticize his political activism.  His solution however is the same tired liberal idea of high taxes and a nanny state that takes care of us when we fall; this is replacing the vision of the Kingdom of God with statism.  But I contend that when you pay for poverty you will only get more of it. Get off the backs of the wealthy and they will invest their money, and those investments will create jobs and the whole society will begin to improve as more wealth is generated. I don’t know what the solution to homelessness is, but it certainly isn’t government.  Government is a large part of the problem.  Government takes away our money in the form of taxes, while itself verging always upon bankruptcy with its unfunded liabilities.  To reduce this burden,  the Canadian government allows individuals to have too seldom used RRSP’s and TFSAs so that we as working Canadians can have some of our own money to save and invest; but when taxes are so high, how many Canadians actually have any money to put into such investments?  Dr. Diewert, Candians already pay enough in tax.  The solution is not more government funding, but government getting off the backs of individual taxpayers so that they can fend for themselves.  Consider the following story of resident of Diewert’s Tent City in an article that mentions him (nationalpost.com):

His name is John, and he has what he calls an “addictions problem.” It cost him his carpet-laying job at a swank new hotel and condominium development downtown. “I showed up wasted,” he says. “I didn’t get paid and I lost my apartment, and now I’m here.”

Here being the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver’s slum. Where, on Monday night, John wound up. He spent what little cash he had and got wasted again. He’s not feeling sorry for himself or making excuses. “I wrote my own story,” he says. “It’s my fault.”

So Diewert’s solution is to force responsible hardworking Canadians to pay more taxes to help irresponsible people like John. The end effect of this would be to force all of us onto the streets, because Diewert’s vision, as Nathan suggests, is the renunciation of all wealth of a financial sort.  The Globe and Mail recently had a series on the failing pensions of hundreds of thousands of retired Canadians–if they had been allowed to keep more of their money when they were working, they would be less likely to fall into poverty now that they are retired.  If governments exercised sound fiscal policy and didn’t run continual deficits to pay for all the excessive social programs, wanting to be our nanny, then there could be a stable currency and people wouldn’t have to put their savings into risky assets and end up being poor because the stock and the real estate markets crash.  Government is already causing too much instability by extending itself too far and trying to do too much; through excessive taxes, the government has also greatly weakened and undermined all other institutions that might help the poor, including the church and the family.

Let’s get back to the question:  Is investing a sin?  It requires the accumulation of wealth that is then invested to acquire more wealth.  If you accept Dr. Diewert’s view, I guess I am a “bourgeois Christian” (in the words of another of Diewert’s friend), and my investments are sinful.  That is why they favor high taxes on the wealthy, so that nobody will have the personal capital left to become an investor.

Eventually a vision like that leads to poverty like what we see in Cuba or East Germany before it was reunited with West Germany.

Paul’s approach was different.  After warning against the love of money, he urges Timothy with these words (1 Tim 6.17-19):

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.

Paul urges generosity and good deeds.  By this standard, it is hard to fault even Warren Buffet who gave away billions to charity.  But Paul does not demonize wealth itself but rather the love of wealth.  The wealthy then demonstrate their detachment from wealth through their generous support of charitable work.

My answer simply is that investing is not a sin, provided that the one who invests is a righteous investor, as suggested by 1 Tim 6.17-19.  Off the top of my head, here is a list of righteous investors who are considered men and women of God in the Bible:  Abraham, Job, Barnabas, Erastus (?), and Priscilla and Aquila.

The political elite are driven by an ideology that eases the tax burden on the wealthy members of our society and cuts the support systems for those in need. We are seeing played out before us a political agenda that views certain members of our society as disposable, useless, expendable entities.