Friday, April 10, 2015

Morality and Poverty (from Nisi Dominus)

Some political commentators like to draw a distinction between between "economic issues", among which are political approaches to poverty, and what they call "social issues", including things like marriage, family, abortion, sexual morality, etc.  In the Catholic view, it is clear that all of these issues are connected; for secularists, whether coming from the right or the left, it is not so clear although, occasionally, one of them stumbles upon it. This piece is about one such discovery. An earlier version of it first appeared last April under the title "In Mother Jones, of All Places" on my blog Principium et Finis.

The Left-Wing Rag

Radical activist, the original Mother Jones
     Back in my secular, radical college days I used to enjoy a leftish publication called Mother Jones, your proverbial Left-Wing Rag.  I had not so much as gazed upon said publication since somewhere around the transition between President Reagan’s first and second terms, when the other day  I happened across a recent copy, and decided to look inside, for old times’ sake.  There among the expected articles about the balefulness of the sinister plastic companies, and a hit job aiming to show that Louisiana’s Republication Governor Bobby Jindal is a wacko because he’s a believing Catholic, and so on, I found a most unexpected piece called “What If Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong? [link]”  I say unexpected not because everything I know about poverty is wrong (necessarily), but because the factual content of the article actually validates much of what is being said about poverty by people on what its author, and the magazine, would consider “the right”.  I take this as a hopeful sign that maybe, maybe, we can start having a conversation about poverty that rises above the usual political divisions.

You Never Know What You Might Find . . . 

     The article, written by Stephanie Mencimer, is a profile of poverty researcher Kathryn Edin, a Johns-Hopkins University sociologist who decided she could better understand the poor if she moved into the most poverty-blasted area of East Camden, New Jersey (although herself a Methodist, one of Edin’s long-time heroes is St. Francis of Assisi).  The article would have us believe that in doing so Edin discovered things previously unknown . . . 

(Read the entire piece HERE at Nisi Dominus)