Commentary & News

The War on Poverty: Timeless Truth – Our Key to the Future

The War on Poverty: Timeless Truth – Our Key to the Future

By Kelly Monroe Kullberg

When I am wrong, and when I am lost, I am presented with opportunities to turn around — in Biblical terms, to repent. Repentance is the gift of being set right to enjoy the journey and the fruitfulness of living rightly. When a well-founded nation is wrong and lost — with evidence in every news report — that nation is presented with opportunities to turn around. Progress is possible when we return to our spring of life and vitality. Such is our present crisis and opportunity.

America’s “war on poverty” did not begin in 1964 with LBJ, but in 1776 with men and women who had come to understand, by looking still further back in time, the created nature of humankind. They believed in a loving God who had endowed us with capacities of conscience, creativity, and generosity. Their theological anthropology, if you will, yielded love for all people. To love those in poverty was to help an inherently valuable human being back to his truest self as a creative and contributing member of a community and a nation.

“The poor” were not seen in Christian America as mere material or political recipients of welfare programs. (As of 2012, there were more than 80 means-tested programs.) Neither burdens nor victims, we are human beings loved by God and man with unalienable rights and intrinsic worth. And as more people were restored to create and give back, the more generous a nation we became to the vulnerable who could not work — the more able we were to give to, as Jesus put it, “the least of these.”

America’s wellspring, our True Vine of the love of God, gave life to every branch of society: the family, churches, justice and the rule of law, a free press, the marketplace, the arts and sciences, schools, hospitals. Some good news is that today, hundreds of nongovernmental organizations such as Poverty Cure are moving again, from aid to enterprise.

Yes, we have fallen from our original glory as people and as a nation. But at the heart of the human story is an offer of redemption — this is where life gets exciting — of following the One who can make us more fully alive, again. The Author has entered the play and shown us our story. He has shown his face. His heart. Apart from this same God, we are merely glorious ruins. But with this God, we are on the journey of becoming healers and lovers and parents, of growing as artists and entrepreneurs and servant-leaders with the humility to repent and return to the source of life.

How tragic and how ironic that America’s “leaders” are discouraging those who know this Vine, and that they continue advancing solutions that lay an ax to the very Vine who gives us life and could revive us. Timeless truth is our key to the future. Thus the way forward is to go back home. In the famous words of a poet who himself turned toward home:

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploring

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, remembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning  . . .

— T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets” (full poem here)

 

— Kelly Monroe Kullberg is the author of Finding God Beyond Harvard,  founder of the Veritas Forum, and founder of Finding God In.

2020-04-02T17:12:12+00:00