Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Reasons You Cannot Help but Read Lists (even though you hate them)

Let's face it we all cannot help but read a list.  Whether its the "Top 5 Cancer Causing Foods", or the "Top 10 Signs Vampires are Real:; you are drawn to click and scans every list you come across.  Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo, the ubiquitous presences of lists has becoming daunting.  You know your should get back to work, but you just saw another article on "The 8 Ways your Spouse is Secretly Killing you" and you must read it now.  Lists become an addiction; you want to get away but you can't.  So below I made the top 5 reasons why lists are made and read despite everyone's deep hatred for them.  Hope you enjoy, though you probably won't.

1.  No Time Left for You - Writers know you don't like to invest time in things like reading.  Waiting for an author to develop a sound argument through paragraphs of questions, information, and conclusions is so 1950's.  Lists provide the shallow relationship that we in America love so much.  You can read the headings in the list to get the authors idea.  If you don't life the heading you can end your commitment to the article there, but if you are intrigued you are invited to read more.

2.  Instant Wisdom - Lists are magical.  For some reason deep down inside we believe if we grasp all the concepts in a list, apply them to our life, then our life will become better.  Whether the list is about dieting or relationships, we feel that if we can just grasp the lists concepts we will master our troubles. 

3.  Readership, Readership, Readership - Clicks.  Online literature is measured not by usefulness nor accurate information.  Online articles are all about the clicks.  No one really cares if you read the article, as long as you click it.  This encourages more people to write more lists which simply feeds our addiction.  When we see an article has become viral, we begin to think it must have useful and accurate. 

4. Imagination Termination -  Lists require no creativity, only a number, followed by a period and some vague information.  Lists mean the writer can be lazy.  If the writer can be lazy and quickly crank out an article it leaves more time for the author to read their own lists or create more.

5. Numbers are reputable - Lists have a way of creating a sense of accurate undisputable information.  Many of the lists online are simply opinions, but if you number your points they instantly become hard tested truths in the minds of readers. 
This is why lists are so popular, but leave us feeling empty inside when we are done.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why the Church should stand behind higher wages

I want to be clear, I am not advocating for government intervention for a minimum wage increase, I am advocating for a compassion intervention.  Don't get me wrong, I would not oppose an increase in minimum wages to a livable salary, but making people pay livable wages does not change anyone's heart.  So, if legislation was passed to increase minimum wage I would be completely behind it, but it would still fall short of the greater goal.  The greater goal is to have consumers, employers, investors, and employees to see the working force not just as soulless line items, but as human beings.  The greater goal is not to force, but to compel people to move in the direction of providing every full-time worker with a livable wage regardless of education, race, background, ethnicity, religion or language.


"Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain" (Deut. 25:4).  This scripture passage is one of those that sound too odd to be in the Bible.  But the passage centers on compassion and fair treatment.  While your ox is working and treading the grain, you cannot cover its mouth so that it will not eat in the midst of the work.  The ox deserves to eat and be provided for while doing the work it is being required to do.  The one who is using the ox to do the work is responsible to make sure the ox get what it needs.  If this is how we treat animals, certainly human beings deserve better.  This means that employees, who are doing the work required of them, are the responsibility of the employer to make sure they have enough to survive.  Currently the minimum wage 40 hours a week worker earns far below the poverty line.  Employees are falling further and further behind, the responsibility of the employer to provide has fallen on government programs.

1 Timothy 5:18 quotes this Deuteronomy passage adding Luke 10:7 "the worker deserves his wages."  One who works and does the work required of them deserves to be paid a wage that provides a basic level of living. 

James 5:4 says that the wages you refuse to pay the worker who worked your field have been noticed by the Lord Almighty.  If God notices our refusal to pay our workers, I believe God still notices when we pay our employees inadequately. 

Sometimes we fall into the mistake that God only cares about our "spiritual existence" but this is nothing but empty religion.  Scripture is full of mandates concerning provision for our neighbors.  God is concerned with our economic system, and Christ cares for how we treat the "lowest" of employees.  Lack of education or training is not an adequate excuse to underpay the children of God. 

One of Jesus' most enamoring names he has for us is "sheep."  Scripture, more than a few times, refers to God's people as sheep.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd in John 10, and leaders and elders of God's people are also called shepherds.  Sheep have a fairly simple job, grow wool.  Sheep basically do their job just by existing. For us humans, our jobs are much tougher.  It is the Shepherd's job to care, protect, and provide for the sheep.  Ezekiel 34:2-4 has some harsh words for Shepherds who do not care for their sheep:

            Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds       take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter      the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the       weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.

This passage is most often read with national or spiritual leaders as the Shepherds and I believe that is the most accurate place to begin.  However, the passage does not intend to stop there.  I also believe that this passage can and does talk to employers.  If you demand the work of your employees, if you consume 40 hours a week of their life, if you profit from their toil, and they go hungry or naked then you are judged as an unjust Shepherd. Employers, along with leaders, and pastors, are called not to care just for themselves, but for those they are over.  I believe God gifts and appoints employers along with pastors, teachers, and leaders to use their talents to provide sustainable and fulfilling jobs, economies, societies, schools, etc. however, we have fell woefully short.

Our prayers and church attendance is not enough when our employees, who are our brothers and sisters, do not have enough.  We must push, we must strive, we must struggle to ensure our brothers and sisters who work do not also have to beg. 

The truth is there is enough.  Jesus Christ has made sure of this.  God in his infinite wisdom did not intend to create a universe where people must suffer for others to survive. What creates this suffering? Sin! We have to stop believing the law that there is not enough to pay everyone enough.  There is plenty, God has designed it that way.  If there is enough for 5,000 with 12 baskets leftover, than there is enough for all of us. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Join the Movement

When was it decided that those who we deem "under educated" do not deserve jobs that pay livable salaries?  In the midst of protests to increase wages to $15 from corporations such as McDonalds and Walmart there has been a backlash against the cause.  Many people are finding it extravagant to pay a human being a livable wage for a "burger flipping job." Many are arguing that these are entry level jobs and are occupied by the "under educated."  The argument goes, since these are entry level positions and these people do not have the education deemed necessary by some arbitrary standard to obtain certain wages, than these employees and their families do not have the right to be paid a wage above the poverty line.
Granted cooking fast food does not require a great deal of education or training, but it is still work.  Workers at McDonalds and Walmart show up every day and do all the work required of them on their feet for 8 plus hours a day.  Just because people do not graduate college, or maybe even high school does not mean they do not deserved to be paid a livable wage.  Livable wages should not be based on education, but on being a human being.
People who work McDonalds and Walmart work just as hard and I am sure sometimes even harder than many of their executives sitting in comfortable offices.  McDonalds and Walmart are not some startup companies that cannot afford to pay their employees better; instead they are greedy enterprises with gross amounts of profit and bonuses for top executives who refuse to acknowledge that it is human beings with families who work their stores.
It is true a good education can land you a better job, but lack of a "sufficient education" should not prevent you from a livable salary for the rest of your life. 
Our arguments against better wages do not work.  When God asks why we did not pay our neighbors, friends, and employees a livable wage for them and their families, God will not accept our distorted views of economics that declare they did deserve such compensation due to lack of education.  Education is not the deciding principle to livable wages, but being made in the image of God. 
God calls us to make sure all people are provided for.  We are called to care for the poor, homeless, and unemployed.  Yet, we cannot even learn how to care for the least of these, if we refuse to pay respectable and livable salaries.  Let us learn to stand with these workers.  Let us not be afraid to demand livable wages, let us not be afraid to take the power away from the corporation and give it to the people.  Let us see people not as products of services, but as people who bear the image of God.