Bart Campolo 7-10-2007

I'm not friendly with the white-shirted drug dealers who work the corners near my house yet, but at least they acknowledge me as a neighbor now, instead of looking me over as a prospective buyer

What does it mean to be poor in the 'burbs?

In a land of asphalt, malls, and picket fences, how do we serve God and neighbor?

Lindsay Morgan 6-01-2007

In "Big is Beautiful?" (March 2007), Marie Dennis rightly says that more must be done to help the millions of people living in poverty around the world.

Rose Marie Berger 6-01-2007
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alice Walker talks about Katrina, bubble baths, and the art of remembering.
Rose Marie Berger 6-01-2007
Our children are coming home from the front lines- and they have questions.
Jorge Mariscal 6-01-2007
Craig Wactor / Shutterstock

Craig Wactor / Shutterstock

RECENTLY I STUMBLED upon an online exchange about why young people join the military. One participant who claimed to be "on the Left" made the following assertion: "Disenfranchisement is the reason why kids join the military and they know going in that it gives them the opportunity to legally and with the blessing of our government kill, torture, and hate other people in order to give an outlet to their hostilities toward society."

Among the many youth I have met over the years as an educator and counter-recruitment activist, I have never met anyone who enlisted so that he or she could "kill, torture, and hate." While "disenfranchisement" may be an accurate word for why some youth enlist, the claim that working-class youth sign up so that they can "legally kill and torture other people" at the very least betrays a profound misunderstanding of why young people join the "all-volunteer military" and at worst reveals biases that separate Americans due to differences of class and race.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the conservative claim that most youth enlist due to patriotism and the desire to "serve one's country" is equally misleading. The Pentagon's own surveys show that something vague and abstract called "duty to country" motivates only a portion of enlistees. But the vast majority of young people wind up in the military for different reasons, ranging from economic pressure to the desire to escape a dead-end situation at home to the promise of citizenship.

WHEN MANDATORY MILITARY service ended in 1973, the volunteer military was born. By the early 1980s, the term "poverty draft" had gained currency to connote the belief that the enlisted ranks of the military were made up of young people with limited economic opportunities.

Today, military recruiters react angrily to the term "poverty draft." They parse terms in order to argue that "the poor" are not good recruiting material because they lack the necessary education. Any inference that those currently serving do so because they have few other options is met with a sharp rebuke, as Sen. John Kerry learned last November when he seemed to tell a group of college students they could either work hard in school or "get stuck in Iraq."

President Bush led the bipartisan charge against Kerry: "The men and women who serve in our all-volunteer armed forces are plenty smart and are serving because they are patriots—and Sen. Kerry owes them an apology."

In reality, Kerry's "botched joke"—Kerry said he was talking about President Bush and not the troops—contained a kernel of truth. It is not so much that one either studies hard or winds up in Iraq but rather that many U.S. troops enlist because access to higher education is closed off to them. Although they may be "plenty smart," financial hardship drives many to view the military's promise of money for college as their only hope to study beyond high school.

Mary Nelson 6-01-2007

Ending Poverty in America is an insightful and readable book that contains concise chapters by experts who describe the complex and intertwined aspects of poverty in America—includin

Administrator 5-31-2007

For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat.

- Exodus 23:10-11

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Administrator 5-14-2007

This article in Sunday's LA Times caught my attention:

Evangelical leader Rick Warren came to the heart of the religious right movement last week to criticize a narrow focus on abortion, homosexuality and pornography as [...]

Administrator 5-09-2007

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.

- Proverbs 19:17

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Administrator 5-04-2007

There are two pieces on poverty from today's Washington Post that are worth reading and discussing. The first is by one of my favorite columnists, E.J. Dionne Jr., If Democrats Want to Help the Poor. . . :

Republicans once preached compassion, but then went off to war. [...]

Administrator 4-11-2007

Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

- Proverbs 17:5-5

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Jim Wallis 4-01-2007
Scripture suggests a clear role for government in ensuring the common good.

Since the industrial revolution, cities often have been seen as the domain of low-income residents, while their surrounding suburbs have been home to middle- and upper-income people.

Julie Polter 4-01-2007
Individual efforts and social responsibility go hand-in-hand.
Aseem Shrivastava 2-01-2007
How do we ignore the poor? Let me count the ways.
Dr. Paul Sherry 2-01-2007

A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.

Robert M. Franklin 1-01-2007

If preachers are preoccupied with pursuing the life of conscpicuous consumption and preaching a "prosperity gospel," then poor people are in big trouble.

Jim Wallis 12-01-2006
Political manipulation of religion only compounded the crime of political neglect of the poor.