Friday, May 18, 2007

Quotes and Facts: From "The Tragedy of American Compassion" by Marvin Olasky

(The purpose of this new section, "Quotes and Facts", is to share with my readers information from my reading that could not fit into my book reviews. I had planned to share some quotes from Francis S. Collins "The Language of God", but I have decided to move on. The next "Quotes and Facts" with feature at least one quote from "Beholding the Glory" edited by Jeremy Bigbie.)

p.10- In 1752, American colonial Charles Chauncey exhorted the Society for Improving Industry and Employing the Poor that aid should only go to those who could not help themselves, not to the those able but unwilling to work. Paul stated in IIThess 3:10 that those who will not work shall not eat. This is Chauncey's basis for his position: "...And, so far as appears to me, it would be an evident Breach of the Law of the Gospel, as well as of Nature, to bestow upon those the Bread of Charity, who might earn and eat their own Bread, if they did not shamefully idle away their time." This distinction, as Olasky points out throughout the book, was a major reason for the success of fighting poverty up through the 19th century.

p12- In both Northern and Southern Colonies, schools for teaching all children, black and white, to read the Bible were established. These schools continued until the 1830's when parts of the South overreacted to abolitionist threats.

p.14- One of the origional meanings of charity is "to suffer with." Olasky points out that previous to the welfare state, givers of charity had close enough contact with the needy as to empathize with each recipient of aid. Olasky bemoans that this is no longer the case and urges the Church to return to suffering with those who truly suffer. He quotes the goal of the Massachusetts Charitible Society, formed in 1794 to aid those displaced by fire: "Let us penetrate the lanes and by-ways of the city, enter the abodes of poverty and distress, and show the destitute inmates that we sympathize with their sufferings and commiserate with them in their losses."

p.22- In the 1830's, Englishman D. Griffiths, Jr. spent two years in Ohio. During that time, he saw only one beggar. He attributed this to three factors: 1. Economic growth. 2. An open countryside. 3. The compassion of those who were better off towards those rendered destitute through no fault of their own.

p64.-Ninteenth century charitable organizer Francis Smith contrasted government aid unfavorably to private charity. Olasky quotes her as stating that the purpose of true charity was personal reform: "...As long as it remains[s] in the hands of private agencies, private individuals could affect personal improvment. Statutory provisions, however, would disarm the private citizen and render him powerless to restrict the growth of pauperism in the community."

p96-Olasky points out a major difference between private charity and the welfare state: private charity focused on the individual, government emphasizes the masses. Jerry McAuley established a successful charity in the nineteenth century. At his funeral, McAuleys individual approach was pointed out: "Jerry believed in hand-picked souls. The best fruit is not shaken from the tree, but picked by hand, one by one."

p102-Olasky points out that pre-welfare charity had a goal: to reattach those who have broken their ties with their community to their families and the rest of good society.

p122- Among those in the ninteenth and twentieth centuries who worked to replace private charity with government aid, was Ely Freemantle. Olasky quotes from Fremantles book "The World as the Subject of Redemption" to show the change in religious thinking regarding helping the poor: "We find the nation alone fully organized, sovereign, independent, universal, capable of giving full expression to the Christian principle. We ought, therefore, to regard the Nation as the Church, its rulers as ministers of Christ, its whole body as a Christian brotherhood, its public assemblies as amongst the highest modes of universal Christian fellowship, its dealing with material interests as Sacraments, its progressive development, especially in raising the weak, as the fullest service rendered on Earth to God, the nearest thing as yet within our reach to the kingdom of heaven."

p136-137- Here is a direct quote from Olasky: 'In particular, the new social understanding attacked the biblical concept of a sinful human nature. Man's basic nature was not corrupt, but good; there were sins but not sin, evil acts but not evil. Problems arose from social conditions rather than inherent moral corruption. The Encyclopedia of Social Reform stated that "almost all social thinkers are now agreed that the social evils of the day arise in large part from social wrongs." ' Olasky further explains the change in thinking from focusing on the individual to the masses. Since a bad environment caused social ills, a good environment will save all. So the emphasis shifted from individual responsibility to changing society.

p174- Another change in thinking concerning welfare occurred in the 1960's as a result of "The War on Poverty." Those who were engaged in this effort worked to remove the shame associated with being on public assistance.

p200- Olasky quotes Christopher Jencks how the change in thinking concerning unmarried pregnancy has impacted the family: "even when almost every "respectable" adult thought unwed parenthood, desertion, and divorce immoral, it was hard to keep families together in poor communities. Now that the mass media, the schools, and even the churches have begun to treat single parenthood as a regretable but inescapable part of modern life, we can hardly expect the respectable poor to carry on the struggle with illegitimacy and desertion with their old fervor. They still deplore such behavior, but they cannot make it morally taboo. Once the two-parent norm loses its sanctity, the selfish considerations that always pulled poor parents apart often became overwhelming."

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