The Occupy Protests

The Other 6
| |

My grandparents were immigrants who arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs, but their poverty and godliness propelled a work ethic that paid off in my family. I never lacked the essentials, for which I am deeply grateful. My grandparents and parents loved us and spent time with us, so we always “felt rich.”

The “Occupy” movement, which started on Wall Street in the U.S., has spread to Canada as well. On one hand, I sympathize with the “Occupy” protesters in Canada because “between 1980 and 2005, the median real earnings of Canadian workers stagnated, while labor productivity rose 37%” (International Productivity Monitor, Fall 2008). This is, in part, the result of international trade agreements that have allowed cheap overseas labor to compete with our own work force. Yet those trade agreements have also improved our exports, resulting in jobs and making imports cheaper, as a trip to Wal-Mart reveals.

Furthermore, although our standard of living has stalled, global improvements have gone through the roof. It’s bittersweet for those of us who are unemployed, but this summer the United Nations reported that by 2015 the overall poverty rate is expected to fall below 15 percent, well under the 23 percent targeted in the Millennium Development Goals.

For instance, in East Asia (including China and India) the number of people rising above extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day) between 1990 and 2015 is estimated at 775 million. Do we comprehend how valuable that is? Interestingly, it is largely trade liberalization and global spending that are responsible for this—the same ingredients that created the wealthy 1 percent against whom the Occupiers are protesting.

While I sympathize with the Occupy movement, I respectfully disagree with their basic premise that the rich should be taxed more. Here’s why.

  • First, the world as a whole has gained a great deal from the work ethic and intelligence of the rich. The economic pie is bigger because of them (as is, apparently, our greed to have a slice we haven’t earned). We benefit from the wealthy because their companies and spending employ the rest of us, and their taxes contribute far more than I ever will. In fact, the rich are not only taxed at a higher rate than I am, but they’re also taxed indirectly through corporate taxes, since most of their wealth is generated corporately.
  • Second, the rich became wealthy because we purchased the products, services, and entertainment we needed or wanted. And they offered it to us in an intensely competitive global economy, ensuring that we weren’t hosed at the till.
  • Finally, comparisons of wealth are all relative. Of course the richest 1 percent have more than I do, but so do the poorest in Canada compared to the poorest in India. Should we tax the poor here to benefit the poor there, just because there is a great disparity? The poor here would protest, “But I worked hard for that!” Indeed. So have the rich.

Each of us, rich or poor, seeing the needs of the world around us, can determine before God what we should both spend and give away for the greatest good. Many of the rich in the developed world already give generously, for which we can be thankful. As for me, I take to heart what Paul told the Thessalonians: “. . . make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands . . . so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).

About the Author

Rev. Daryl DeKlerk is pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Barrie, Ontario.

See comments (39)

Comments

Is this really an appropriate topic for The Banner? Just because a Christian has an opinion about a political issue, it doesn't mean the political issue is a Christian one.

My oh my -- an article in the Banner about world economics/politics written by someone who actually has a very good sense for what they're writing about. This is rare indeed.

As to the comment of Anonymous, that makes me smile because when articles in the Banner about such subjects is quite left of center (which is the norm), "Anonymous" people don't show up to tell the Banner to stay out of politics.

Count me on the side of Anonymous if what he/she is saying is that neither the Banner nor the denomination should become a political animal. On the other hand, if the Banner/denomination are going to become political animals (which they have been, only mostly very left of center), then they should at least be honest brokers about the views CRC folk have, which to date they have not been.

Whatever the decisions made by the Banner/denomination about abandoning the Kuyperian sphere sovereignty boundaries for the institutional church, I compliment Rev. DeKlerk on his article. It is quite uncommon to encounter Pastors who have a good understanding of economics and politics, especially at a global level. Beyond that, the article is very well written.

It sure would be nice to see this article on the WCRC (World Communion of Reformed Church) website, but that's just dreaming (to the WCRC, this article would be clear heresy). Maybe posted by our own Office of Social Justice as well? Unfortunately, that too would never happen.

I concur with Doug. I'm hoping and praying that this is not just an "equal time" anomaly.

Perhaps we may now even see an article stating that the Bible is indeed the Word of God; and therefore, that is how we should read it.

I agree that we should steer clear of all political issues here. I disagree that The Banner typically disseminates liberal opinion, however. If one thinks what is generally written here passes for "liberal", perhaps it is because they have purposefully sheltered themselves from mainstream liberal thought. Outside of our CRC realm, what is printed here is largely middle-of-the road at best.

Perhaps that is why many liberal commenters here choose to remain anonymous. This church is an amazing family in many respects, but I for one don't want to be the black sheep.

Are you really opening this can of worms? Shame on you.

You write, "The poor here would protest, 'But I worked hard for that!' Indeed. So have the rich."

They both worked hard. So their wages should be relatively similar, not grossly dissimilar. How does one "work" that much harder in order to make millions? They don't. They earn money off the backs of someone else.

Your first paragraph contradicts your entire argument. You benefited in life because of your family's money!

CLUELESS!

Again the banner gets off course. Please please please refocus and stop trying to cover every culturally hot topic.

It's sad you don't get it.

Jennifer Carlson said. "Perhaps we may now even see an article stating that the Bible is indeed the Word of God; and therefore, that is how we should read it."

Jennifer-don't hold your breath! But wouldn't that be wonderful if the church really believed the Word of God. Then we could stand in unity, putting to death the vain philosophies and false teachings of evolution, homosexuality, social justice (socialism/marxism), interfaithism and the gender neutralizing of God. So to, the smorgasbord of beliefs, that our denomination seems to promote and insist we accept.

If we believed in the holy pure Word of God, then we would know and protect the truth. We wouldn't be able to lock arms and come under the influence with straying denominations in ecumenical movements. Nor re-shape our doctrines to conform to the control of the United Nations and their Millennium Development Goals. We wouldn't be able to maintain our membership in the way-ward World Communion of Reformed Churches. Our Colleges and learning institutions would have to comply with Scripture. Now that would be true academic freedom!

But then...we might be hated by all men for the sake of the Gospel. A price, I believe, this denomination is unwilling to pay.

"truthmatters" would have a very tough time if we complied with everything the Bible required.

Instead, he prefers to "pick and choose" which parts of the Bible he'll go along with.

This is the reason why oh-so-many have left the CRC--her hypocrisies.

"truthmatters" only comments on articles where he feels change in the CRC is coming, i.e. Homosexual, Tradition, Evolution, etc. Never will you find him making comments on articles where GOOD DEEDS ARE WRITTEN! ONLY WHERE HE CAN INDUCE DRAMA! Just read the articles!

Abraham Kuyper said, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"

C.S. Lewis has said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan”

I don't think Kuyper or Lewis would argue that the Banner should stick with religion and stay out of politics and economics. Interesting, DeKlerk argues for a quiet life where Christians mind their own business and critics in these comments argue that the Banner should mind Christian business by staying out of politics.

The simple fact is that the top 100 CEOs in Canada earned an average of $8.4 million; 27% higher than in 2009. There is a growing divide between the highest income earners and everybody else. If you would agree that no human being has a legitimate claim to a multi-million dollar income, then we have a societal problem.

Will Christians be silent, or will we engage in God's claim over politics and economics?

DeKlerk was silencing the voice of the oppressed (those making PEANUTS compared to the MILLIONS that the rich are making). He writes, "The poor here would protest, 'But I worked hard for that!' Indeed. So have the rich." This shows how OUT OF TOUCH he is with the younger members of society.

The poor can barely afford to keep their lights on; the rich are only getting richer. Maybe you should apply your Christian reasoning THERE.

Good for what Kuyper and Lewis say; when do they trump individuals living today? Today you quote Kuyper and Lewis; tomorrow you'll quote the reformers (i.e. "Sola Scriptura", which means Kuyper et al. don't matter!!).

The founders of Sojourners did some research and found that the Bible refers to the poor and disadvantaged over 2000 times; so commenting on political issues that deal with the poor is certainly appropriate. And it seems to me that there is much Scriptural justification for being more concerned about policies that protect the poor than the wealthy.

Robert Duiker:
You are partly correct, however Kuyper differentiated between Common and Saving grace, the latter being the special role of the institutional church. In Kuyperian thought God is sovereign over goverments etc. There is nothing wrong with free market oriented Christians engaging organizations like the Acton Institute or those who believe more in central planning etc. from joining a group like Sojourners. The Banner, however, is part of the CRCNA, thus should be focused on the Word/Sacrament ministry of the church, imo, fwiw

I'm also one of those who would be cautious about how we deal with social and economic issues. This is the territory for wisdom and prudence.

Rev. DenDulk does a fine job highlighting changes in global economics, and had he left it there I would be rather edified. It's when he moves to the domestic front that he gets in trouble. There are three areas where I get cautious.

First, biblically: Scripture (and experience) does not allow us to take an uncritical eye on the rich or the poor. Whether we look at Proverbs, James, Luke or the prophets we encounter cautions about wealth and the spiritual dangers that arise from riches. The human, fallen nature of ours makes it easy to self-deal and look only after ourselves and our families. This note was missing in Rev. Den Dulk's essay.

Second, economically: the treatment of the rich, the notion that they "earned it" would benefit from greater study of the structure of wealth. While some grow wealthy by leading and building teams in entrepreneurial organizations, other paths include the financial sector (a segment that has expanded substantially in the US economy in the past generation), natural resources, real estate, and inheritance.

As to earning it, as late as the mid-70s the chairman of Herman Miller was limited to a multiplier of 35 -- his income was to be no larger than 35 times that of the average wage on the floor. And that company was not alone. Today, the multiplier is on the order of 300 - 400: has the executive suite become that smarter in this past generation?

Finally, Rev. Den Dulk runs into the real differences between the United States and Canada. The two nations have quite different tax structures, and differing political approaches to their tax systems. Thus to say we shouldn't raise taxes will mean one thing where there's a 13% GST, say, but quite another where such phrases have a particular political and partisan cast.

The question that he has stumbled into is that of what makes a tax rate just -- this is an interesting topic, but I am not sure it is one for a general publication such as The Banner.

How I made Rev. Daryl DeKlerk into DenDulk beats me. But I did, and I apologize. If there were an editing tool, I would have cleaned it up. This apology will have to do.

Thank you to William Harris for your comment about the chairman of Herman Miller's salary vs. today's leaders' salaries (whoa, even though 35-times higher salary than that of the average worker is still an incredible number). Things all around are much different today than from the 70s.

You could copy your comment you wrote, "Flag as inappropriate" to remove it, and simply paste it editing the author's correct name.

I like the example of today's salaries compared to those of the 70s--I hope other people (likely those who are older) will now somewhat better understand today's job field!

Regardless of well versed Rev DeKlerk may appear to be in matters economic, as Doug Vande Griend suggest, he's probably not an economist. My first reaction is that he (DeKlerk) stick to his vocation.
There is no doubt that there is an increasing gap between the very rich and the very poor, one that cannot be bridged simply by taxing the rich (not only some CEOs but also professional football, hockey, tennis, and basketball players, lawyers, and movie actors). Calculations have shown that the revenue generated by increasing the taxation on this segment of the population is not all that much because the percentage of the very rich is small (1%). "Do the math!" Therefore, taxing the "rich" would be little more than a punitive action.

I don't agree with Rev DeKlerk's second comment, that "the rich became wealthy because we purchased the products, services, and entertainment we needed or wanted. And they offered it to us in an intensely competitive global economy, ensuring that we weren’t hosed at the till." Many of the rich become wealthy because they know "how to play the game" using rules designed by their friends in government. A rather simple solution to reduce, at least to some extent, the influence of big corporations on politics, is to severely limit contributions from corporations to political parties or candidates. This has already happened at the federal level in Canada where donations from corporations and labour unions are no longer allowed and contributions from individuals is limited to ~$1100. As to ensuring that the consumer is not "hosed at the till," this is being done by outsourcing manufacturing offshore. The consumer who has money (and this includes the "1%") may not be "hosed at the till" but this is cold comfort to the unemployed or underemployed

Comparing the poor in India with the poor in North America is meaningless. Yes, in some countries, the poor may have to make a living on "less than $1.25 per day" but they don't have to pay $15 for a haircut, as I have to. We tend not to compare ourselves to somebody with the same education in a developing country but with our neighbours. If everybody on my street can afford a winter vacation and I cannot, I may feel "poor" even if I am aware that somebody with the same education in India cannot afford one either. I relate to my neighbours, not to somebody in India or Zimbabwe.
There are a couple of simple ways to address this important social issue. One is, as I have mentioned earlier, is to reduced the influence of corporations and labour unions on politicians. Another is to close off loopholes that allow the economically fortunate to avoid paying taxes. A third way is to rely more on consumption taxes instead of on income taxes. If a "1%-er" and I both want to go boating, let both us pay a hefty sales tax, she on her 60-ft yacht, I on a kayak.
As to Rev DeKlerk, maybe he should concentrate more on preaching the gospel and leave a discussion on economic inequalities to Christian economists, political scientists, and sociologists. But, by raising the topic, he may well accomplish this and. as some lady said, "that's a good thing."

I'm also one of those who would be cautious about how we deal with social and economic issues. This is the territory for wisdom and prudence.

Rev. DeKlerk does a fine job highlighting changes in global economics, and had he left it there I would be rather edified. It's when he moves to the domestic front that he gets in trouble. There are three areas where I get cautious.

First, biblically: Scripture (and experience) does not allow us to take an uncritical eye on the rich or the poor. Whether we look at Proverbs, James, Luke or the prophets we encounter cautions about wealth and the spiritual dangers that arise from riches. The human, fallen nature of ours makes it easy to self-deal and look only after ourselves and our families. This note was missing in Rev. DeKlerk's essay.

Second, economically: the treatment of the rich, the notion that they "earned it" would benefit from greater study of the structure of wealth. While some grow wealthy by leading and building teams in entrepreneurial organizations, other paths include the financial sector (a segment that has expanded substantially in the US economy in the past generation), natural resources, real estate, and inheritance.

As to earning it, as late as the mid-70s the chairman of Herman Miller was limited to a multiplier of 35 -- his income was to be no larger than 35 times that of the average wage on the floor. And that company was not alone. Today, the multiplier is on the order of 300 - 400: has the executive suite become that smarter in this past generation?

Finally, Rev. DeKlerk runs into the real differences between the United States and Canada. The two nations have quite different tax structures, and differing political approaches to their tax systems. Thus to say we shouldn't raise taxes will mean one thing where there's a 13% GST, say, but quite another where such phrases have a particular political and partisan cast.

The question that he has stumbled into is that of what makes a tax rate just -- this is an interesting topic, but I am not sure it is one for a general publication such as The Banner.

Interesting how we all agree that we should work for God’s “justice” in our North American economies, and yet we can’t seem to agree on what God’s justice actually is. On the ground, in terms of actual taxes, wages and outcomes, these definitions elude concrete, biblical definitions.

As we try to figure this out, let's be really careful what we're willing to demand that our governments implement for God in the name of ‘justice.’ While some may be fine with ‘building the kingdom’ in economics by forcing employers to pay certain wages and government agents confiscating certain taxes, can we ask how else our government – through threat of the sword – is ‘building the kingdom’? What about ‘justice’ to God and ‘the least of these’ in tithing? What about ‘justice’ to God and ‘the least of these’ in worship? What about ‘justice’ to God and ‘the least of these’ in our entertainment production and consumption?

Good questions, all. Let's be careful.

Thanks to Jason Ellis, I agree. It is right and good for Christians to engage these issues. Does not make it good or right for the banner to do so.

Thanks to Jason Ellis, I agree. It is right and good for Christians to engage these issues. Does not make it good or right for the banner to do so.

So I'm wondering, can we ALL agree the denomination would be wise to avoid wading into the business of providing authoritive pronouncements about political, economic and such issues? I'm not referring to encouraging/admonishing its members to do justice (or love mercy), etc. etc., but rather telling members what the answers are when those questions/answers are not "institutional church" questions/answers.

Brought to a more specific question, can we agree that the Banner (official magazine of the CRCNA) should not declare who is right about climate change, whether OWS (or the Tea Party) are right or wrong, etc?

I like being in a church where I know others in my church have different opinions on these "non-institutional church" questions, and I also like knowing my church will not attempt to be the arbiter of truth between/among us on these questions.

The CRCNA is becoming increasingly "political" (Office of Social Justice projects, Hope Equal project re middle east, adopting United Nations goals that inherently involve a large political overlay, being part of WCRC which is 80% a political/economic actor rather than an ecumenical church body). Some people like that, at least when the denomination takes their side of the argument(s). I think it is not wise for the (institutional) church to be the arbiter of truth on any "non-institutional church" questions, whether it takes my side or not.

Does anyone think otherwise?

To answer Doug Vande Griend's question, I think that people "in authority" in denominations should not make pronouncements in areas outside their competence. Ministers who use the pulpit (or pages in a denominational publication) to advocate views that are outside the field of theology run the risk of stepping out on very thin ice. Let me give one example: a number of years ago, a Canadian denomination voted to designate their offices and church buildings "nuclear free zones." The decision meant nothing other than to make that denomination look silly in the eyes of scientists and engineers who knew that this declaration was nonsense: no congregation was likely to store nuclear materials in its buildings. To suggest that nothing nuclear should be allowed in its sanctuaries would be difficult to enforce because we all are slightly radioactive on account of carbon-14 in our bodies. This (mainline) denomination is rapidly losing members so, in time, maybe its decision will have the effect that they erroneously intended to have.

This is not to say that members of a denomination should be silent on matters economic, social, environmental or political. Clearly, experts in these area should work together with Christians (and non-Christians) for justice (Micah 6:8).

I know pastors in a number of denominations who will not join a political party because they feel that this would compromise their pastoral duties. I think this is a correct decision.

Doug, I agree with you. However, trying to stop The CRCNA from making pronouncements in various areas is like trying to stop a train. Although there are some conservative churches still left in the CRC, the leadership has primarily steered the denomination into a global, liberal - socialistic, political, ecumenical alliances. Some, you mentioned. Holding hands with these unions influence us further to their ideology, and a buffet of beliefs outside christian orthodoxy and the Bible.

We currently do not have the appropriate leadership to direct us out of this compromised mess. It doesn't seem like they see the big picture. Conservative churches are growing, but distancing themselves from the denomination. Perhaps, maybe (?), we are witnessing the formation of the one world political (beast) and religious (prophet) spoken of in Revelation.

truth: Yep, it is like stopping a train. Then again, we all know that trains can be stopped.

My council just submitted two overtures to our Classis, one on Belhar and one to commission a study on Kuyperian social sphere sovereignty and how that relates to the church as institution. We think our Classis will pass them (if not, Synod will get them from our Council). But no, I don't the study request will impact Synod much in 2012--but we'll be back after 2012, and I think in greater numbers. My own goal is long term, banking on the fact that indeed, CRCNA congregations do think quite differently than the current leadership. On the other hand, I do think the Belhar will get a NO vote in 2012, in large part because Synod brought the matter to the congregations. Hope so at least (it's a gateway confession to the Accra).

Consider this: the internet introduces a very new but very big variable in all of this. For example, each of us can now see what the WCRC actually is (and where we are going by being a member of it) by just checking it out on the web (wcrc.ch by the way). You and I and others can exchange and work together, even though 20 years ago we'd never now of each other.

Leaderships that are estranged from their constituency are so because constituency is either unwilling or unable to communally exert influence. I'm betting enough of our problem in the CRCNA has been unable rather than unwilling, and that our aggregate increased use of the internet (like what we are doing now) will change that.

I personally look forward to the day the CRCNA withdraws form the WCRC (or the WCRC dramatically changes). Won't happen tomorrow or even next year, or even the year after that. But it may happen -- it can happen. Consider how much things have changed in the last 20 years. No reason more change can't happen, or that change always has to be be in the same direction, especially when the constituency (members in congregations) predominantly think in the opposite direction).

Hey guys, how about we stick to the topic on hand (the article)?

The inequality (or lack, thereof, that some might think) between the rich and the poor, and the church's proper response to it.

Not the "bad, awful changes" in the CRC. There are other arenas (and demoninations!) for such banter.

@Grab a clue.

We are sticking to the topic. Whether the CRCNA (including via the Banner) should become more and more of a political association is question number one invoked by an article like this. Any political/economic assertion made by this article (or others like it) is only question number two.

Put another way, there is this saying: To control the answers, control the questions.

As you say, "grab a clue," or at least get one.

Thanks for writing this pastor Daryl. I hope many of the protesters will read it.

Actually the article is about "The Occupy Protests", not whether the Banner is or is not a "political association". One can tackle issues without being political (which this author did not accomplish). Also, this article is not about who is or is not "conservative" (in your or "truthmatters" eyes). (Most of that talk left the church circa 1994 if you weren't aware!)

Grabbing clues. When an article is written, it is entirely legitimate to question whether the article should have been written in the first place, as well as to comment on the substance of the article. Doug VDG has done both, and the implications of a denominational mag commenting or providing a forum for debatable points about political actions is different than the implications for a non-denominational mag doing so. This is especially true since very few people actually make choices about whether they subscribe to the Banner or not, since it is forced (think "pate de foie gras"), down the throats of every church or church member unless they specifically refuse it.
I don't think Doug was saying the Banner is a political association; he was suggesting that the denomination is gradually becoming a political organization, and that the Banner reflects this, as well as the association with the WARC, and the push for the Belhar.

In direct response to the issue of rich vs poor, it seems that sometimes christians miss the point. While of course, it is necessary for christians to have concern for the welfare of the poor, it is not easy nor possible to arbitrarily trim the wealth of the rich. Nor will the general redistributed wealth of a rich society be of benefit to that society, if it ignores the claims of God for our hearts, in its concentration on earthly riches.

There is no indication that God would require Solomon to make sure that his income was no more than 30 times the income of the poorest of his subjects. There is no indication in scipture that Boaz should have willingly become poorer in order to change the relationship to Naomi and Ruth, instead of allowing Ruth to glean enough grain behind the harvesters in the field, in order to eat.

For us to concentrate on the disparity, is to reveal our envy and covetousness. For us to concentrate on our blessings is to reveal God's love for us.

Wealth will bring no one closer to God. And the richest of men can only eat so much, and can only sleep in one bed at a time. I can well afford the cost of a haircut. Yet my wife cuts my hair at no charge. So to me, the example of what we have to pay compared to what India has to pay simply reveals our wealth, and not our poverty.

John Zylstra says "it is not possible to trim the wealth of the rich". Who said anything about trimming the wealth of the rich? No one.

This kind of talk indicates you've already got your mind set on the financial issues at hand. Your preconceived notions on "the protesters" (aka "The 99%") are incorrect and sad.

For someone to question inequalities in the world as "envy and covetousness" is quite a despicable comment. We can't question things in the world? Perhaps we best leave the abortion issue as it stands--as legal. ?!

Your views on financial policy are grossly inept.

It is unfortunate that these sorts of discussions turn personal but it can be hard for them not to I suppose. My reason for questioning the wisdom of such articles here is that I don't know where else to do it. I am worried about the political drift of the denomination so want to speak out against it when I see it in denomination publications. It may be off the topic of the given article but is on topic given the issue raised by such articles.

And it's too bad stubborn men flag people's comments because they can't stand someone expressing their views in contrast to their own. Times are a-changin', and men like that will no longer exist in a modern society. That, I am glad for. Men like that are the reason the CRC looks so peculiar to outsiders, and the reason so many have left the CRC with all her pretentious baggage, "My view trumps yours". Yuck!

If I'm not mistaken, at least two of the comments flagged for removal were by John Zylstra, and I read them before they were removed. If I'm right about that (and I think I am), I'm really puzzled about why those comments were removed.

I can tell I don't agree much with Grab a clue -- :-) -- but we apparently do agree that these comments should not have been flagged.

They have been "flagged for administrator review" for some time now. I would hope the reviewers would do their review and unflag them, at least if they (or include) the two posts of John Zylstra that I saw.

@ morgan c

I don't think the posts here have gotten SO personal. These are matters that affect people's lives (whether "matter" means political/economic or the role their church has decided to play). And if our denomination, as "church institution," really does want to be political actor (like WCRC), it better get ready for a lot more vigorous discussion than has been going on in response to this article.

The GR community is very genteel, at least compared to other places in the country. And I think the genteel sensibilities of those that have created this response ability (including to Banner articles and "The Network") are a bit uncomfortable with relatively unfiltered discussion. I'm not talking about profanity and such, but just honest, vigorous discussion. Again, there's going to be a lot more of it if the denomination, as church institution, stays on its current political trajectory. There's a lot of low level (fundamental) thinking that has to happen about exactly what the CRCNA should be. It's changing fast -- faster even than the climate, which the Banner has officially declared a global crisis. :-)

Good to see the posts are back. :-)

I’m thankful for many of the reflections below. I wish to reiterate my exuberance, perhaps muted in the article, that so many millions (nearly a billion!) have risen out of extreme poverty in recent decades because of their hard work and intelligence, as did my grandparents. I simply want to highlight and celebrate it because of my heart for the hardworking poor. If the system that rewarded those billions also benefited the tens of thousands of CEO’s who helped to make it happen by good business decisions, I am willing to be thankful for both, and not protest simply because I speak from the relative stagnation of North America’s lower-middle-class.

FYI, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (similar to NPR in the US) recently ran a well-researched 3-part radio series on income inequality, including input from US and Canadian sources. The audio can be downloaded from http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/01/16/left-behind/

Whether or not we agree with the CBC series or each other, we can at least agree that Jesus’ gospel wasn’t just ‘to save souls’ but to redeem creation, so I respectfully defend my contribution to the discussion, even though as a pastor I am by no means an expert in economics (although my undergrad 10 years ago was in business). I also defend The Banner’s right to be a forum for discussion. By printing/posting it or other material they are not pronouncing official positions but fostering healthy dialogue.

To those of you with more experience or education in economics and ecclesiastical life, thank-you for enriching my understanding with your reflections.

I had my comment removed when I got just plain honest about homosexuality..seems like "someone" could not handle that..what is it they really do? How can one say that is natural and God is pleased with that??

and yes..the CRC certainly is getting political! Could it be that some people who donate a lot of money have something to do with that..also could it be the same ones who promote the "One world government" and Council on Foreign Relations..look who gives lots of money to Calvin and is he into politics..just a way to get to the bottom of things...

Daryl: I appreciate your article, as well as your willingess, as article author, to respond to the comments (that's a bit uncommon).

I also agree when you say you would "defend The Banner’s right to be a forum for discussion." My concern arises when the Banner (a) clearly takes a position about a non-institutional church matter in behalf of the denomination (e.g., the "Why Play Favorites" editorial on climate change), and (b) when it expresses a position about a non-institutional church matter but it is unclear whether it does so in behalf of the denomination.

It seems clear to me that "In My Humble Opinion" articles are not intended to be positions taking by the Banner (and therefore not the denomination), just because the section heading is "In My Humble Opinion." It is also clear to me that Editorials are positions taken by the Banner's editorial staff and that the Banner is the official publication of the CRCNA.

It is much less clear whether articles like yours are intended to be a position taken by the denomination via its official publication. I don't think it is, but that certainly isn't clear. (I don't know what "NEXT" is intended to communicate, frankly).

Still, I do agree there is room for the Banner to be a forum for discussion, even of non-institutional church matters. I'm Kuyperian, believing there is "not square inch ...", but yet I think Kuyper's sense of institutional sphere sovereignty (creating concepts of church as institution versus church as organism) is a wise notion that we ignore at our (the CRCNA's) peril.

I'd appreciate your further thoughts.

X