“They grind the penniless into the dirt”: A guest blogger’s strong words on our treatment of the poor

Amos (illustration by Gustave Doré from the 18...

Amos (illustration by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert Mann

I’m amused by how easily some people are offended or shocked by my posts.

Admittedly, Louisiana higher education isn’t awash in professors who blog about public affairs, much less who regularly assail the governor or the LSU Board of Supervisors.

But still, it strikes me as more than strange that dissent – even my rather mild variety – seems so noteworthy, and even dangerous, to some people.

Recent posts on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s and the Louisiana Legislature’s treatment of the poor seemed particularly strong – and offensive — to a few readers.

Why do you have to be so negative about the governor? Aren’t you setting a bad example for your students? Why can’t you be more civil? What you say will not hurt you, but rather your school. You’re personally attacking good people, etc., etc.

So, today I have turned this space over to a guest blogger. His name is Amos Profeta. Perhaps he’ll approach the issue of poverty in a more civil and respectful manner.

(Warning: As you’ll see, my friend Amos is a little strange. For example, he thinks he receives messages from God.)

What God has told me about how our society
and its leaders are treating the poor

They buy and sell upstanding people. People for them are only things—ways of making money. They’d sell a poor man for a pair of shoes.

They’d sell their own grandmother! They grind the penniless into the dirt, shove the luckless into the ditch. Everyone and his brother sleeps with the ‘sacred whore’—a sacrilege against my Holy Name. Stuff they’ve extorted from the poor is piled up at the shrine of their god, while they sit around drinking wine they’ve conned from their victims.

Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar and stomp righteousness into the mud. Do you realize where you are? You’re in a cosmos star-flung with constellations by God, a world God wakes up each morning and puts to bed each night. God dips water from the ocean and gives the land a drink.

God, God-revealed, does all this. And he can destroy it as easily as make it. He can turn this vast wonder into total waste.

People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular.

But here it is, bluntly spoken: Because you run roughshod over the poor and take the bread right out of their mouths, you’re never going to move into the luxury homes you have built. You’re never going to drink wine from the expensive vineyards you’ve planted.

I know precisely the extent of your violations, the enormity of your sins. Appalling!

You bully right-living people, taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.

Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic. Decent people throw up their hands. Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.

Seek good and not evil—and live!

You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, being your best friend.

Well, live like it, and maybe it will happen.

Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square.

I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making.

I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me?

Do you know what I want?

I want justice—oceans of it.

I want fairness—rivers of it.

That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

(Adapted from The Message, Amos 2:6-8; 5:7-15, 18-24)

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10 Responses to “They grind the penniless into the dirt”: A guest blogger’s strong words on our treatment of the poor

  1. earthmother says:

    Take heed, despoilers. The Lord does not like it when the rich oppressors take advantage of the poor (James 5:1-6). Amos eloquently warns those who are enriching themselves at the expense of the less fortunate but they do not have ears to hear. They are reaping their rewards here and now and will be dealt with harshly.To whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:28). I look forward to reading more from Amos. He writes well for a really old guy.

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  2. Stephen Winham says:

    “People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular.” This says it all.

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  3. Greg Green says:

    What people fail to understand is that the United States bears a striking resemblance to pre-exilic Israel and Judah, where Amos was called as a prophet. People are being conned by religious and political leaders who have an incomplete understanding of what righteousness means. We rail against killing babies, which is a sin, but we commit the worse sin of starving them and grinding them under our heels. We rail against the wealthy and their greed, but we fail to recognize our lazy desire to amass wealth with out work. We castigate folks for being intolerant, yet judge others who are mentally ill and homeless. Until we realize that none of us is righteous, not even one, we are in deep trouble.

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  4. Milford Fryer says:

    So many people who spurn poor people, who demean and abuse them, claim to be religious and Godly. They believe they are enroute to Heaven. The should read Matthew 25, about the sheep and goats, and about how their treatment of the downtrodden directly correlates to their treatment of Jesus himself.
    If they are good with what they have done or failed to do, it’s their call. Only they can decide; none of us can judge.
    Bobby helped conduct an exorcism in college. I don’t know very much about exorcisms, but I remember where the exorcised demon went in the movie The Exorcist.
    Working to reduce waste and fraud in Medicaid is a noble, conservative, pursuit .Sentencing people to death by refusing Medicaid money is politics at its meanest.

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    • Robert Mann says:

      Amen, brother!!

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    • earthmother says:

      Milford, thank you for expressing so eloquently what so many of us are thinking. You have written a succinct and complete sermon in the true spirit of Matthew 25;36-40. “Sentencing people to death by refusing Medicaid money is politics at its meanest.” This is one of the most concise indictments ever penned of the ugliness of the selfish conservative doctrine that the poor choose their circumstances and deserve to die if they have no resources.

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