Easter thoughts, by @DavidOAtkins

Easter thoughts

by David Atkins

It's Easter Sunday, and the New York Times has a story that will surely melt the hearts of every conservative God-fearing Christian out there:

Welfare Limits Left Poor Adrift as Recession Hit

Perhaps no law in the past generation has drawn more praise than the drive to “end welfare as we know it,” which joined the late-’90s economic boom to send caseloads plunging, employment rates rising and officials of both parties hailing the virtues of tough love.

But the distress of the last four years has added a cautionary postscript: much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.

Faced with flat federal financing and rising need, Arizona is one of 16 states that have cut their welfare caseloads further since the start of the recession — in its case, by half. Even as it turned away the needy, Arizona spent most of its federal welfare dollars on other programs, using permissive rules to plug state budget gaps.

The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow.

Esmeralda Murillo, a 21-year-old mother of two, lost her welfare check, landed in a shelter and then returned to a boyfriend whose violent temper had driven her away. “You don’t know who to turn to,” she said.

Actually, never mind. God-fearing Jesus-loving "Christians" in these red states don't give a shit.

Sometimes I fervently wish the afterlife they believe in were real. It would be fitting to see all these hypocrites and pharisees who protest their faith loudly in whited sepulchers and houses of stone face the wrath of the God they pretend to worship as they claw desperately at the altar of Mammon, hating their neighbors and kicking against the pricks at even the thought of even a widow's mite being spent on a stranger in their land, burn for eternity in a lake of fire.

On that note, I also feel compelled to say that the conservative religious mind baffles me. It makes no sense whatsoever. If I truly believed that this life were but a fleeting test against a sea of eternity, it would be stupid beyond belief to store up wealth or engage in politics in this world. I would immediately devote myself to faith and good works, knowing that nothing in this life mattered a whit, and looking intensely toward the hereafter. Putting my position in the hereafter at even the slightest risk by engaging in petty hostility and selfishness, pursuing business and earthly pleasures would be the height of irresponsibility, like playing with matches while standing in a pool full of gasoline.

When I encounter fervent believers, I'm not compelled to attempt to disabuse them of their faith. After all, they may be right; I myself am agnostic on the larger question of universal origins; and disabusing people of their faith is both pointless and potentially quite harmful to them. I do, however, want to sit them down and ask them if they've actually read their own damn book and thought about what it means they should do. Consider Matthew 6:25-34:

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

"So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

There is no such thing as a worshipper of business and capitalism, and a worshipper of Jesus. They're diametrically opposed to one another. Why they're unable to see this is beyond me.