Friday, October 13, 2006


The Mustard Seed

Again Jesus said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." From the Guardian A Bangladeshi economist yesterday won the Nobel peace prize for helping to lift millions out of poverty by lending tiny amounts of money directly to the neediest people on the planet. Muhammad Yunus, the microcredit pioneer, and the bank he founded in Bangladesh, Grameen, were presented with the award and the 10m kronor cheque (£800,000) for his work in creating a nation of entrepreneurs.... Microfinance is lending to poor, often illiterate, people who have no collateral, no business experience and who therefore cannot normally borrow from the banks...repayment rates exceed 95%. And poverty rates have been dropping at 2% per year. Why has the Kingdom of Heaven come to Bangladesh and not to the United States?
"Why has the Kingdom of Heaven come to Bangladesh and not to the United States?"

You have GOT to be kidding. Wait. You're probably not. This is the hot-headed crowd at Mercury Rising.

Our poverty rate is orders of magnitude less than that of Banladesh. But really, the two numbers aren't comparable, because the definition of poverty in the US is considered middle class by the standard in most developing countries.
The United States is wealthy due to an accident of geography that gave it huge farmlands and forests, productive mines, and oil, all without the need to spend a lot of energy defending its borders. Despite these advantages, it is now deeply in debt and getting ever more deeply in debt.

Bangladesh, despite its complete lack of resources and many other deficits, is emerging from destitution.

But those who are blind never do see, no matter how much reason one speaks to them.
One need only look next door at Bangladesh's neighbor India to see the striking contrasts between rabid Spectator-favored capitalism and sensible socialism. The parts of India that are the most Socialist are precisely the parts that aren't total hellholes for most of their residents.
No, I think you missed something, PW.

Spectator was born on third base and thinks it's because he hit a triple. What wealth the United States has is the result of good luck and hard work by our ancestors.

This generation, full of Spectators rather than dreamers and doers, is squandering that wealth at an unbelievable rate. Bangladesh has a debt:GDP around 45% and falling. The US has a debt:GDP of 65% and rising.

What the Grameen Bank did is capitalism at its finest: someone who sees a business opportunity but is not so greedy that he kills the golden goose and so losing the golden eggs.

You know nothing about my social or economic background. Nothing! Yet you pontificate on my background as if you're an expert. This is typical of you and your kind, though.

For your information, I wasn't even born in the ballpark, let alone third base.

Goody! Spectator's Leadership Institute training is paying off. He's trying the old derail-the-topic-with-irrelevancies trick.

But wait: In order to play this trick, he's had to suddenly go from this:

... the definition of poverty in the US is considered middle class by the standard in most developing countries.

To this:

For your information, I wasn't even born in the ballpark, let alone third base.

So Americans like Spectator are filthy rich one moment, then dirt-poor the next, all depending on what argument he's trying to advance. How flexible of you!
Ummm...for the remedial students in the class, I'll elaborate.

I originate from a very modest social and economic background. We were poor. Through hard work and discipline, I acquired a useful education, and NOW I am more than comfortably well off.

Can you understand that Phoenix Lady.
A wiser man would have given it up long ago, Spectator. You've hanged yourself in a noose of your own words.

The saddest thing is that you've wildly distorted what I said-- sacreligiously equating the Kingdom of Heaven with mere money-- but you get pissy when people read what you actually say.

As far as knowing you, I know you far too well. You're a person who has so much time on his hands that he spends it posting ignorant drivel on the sites of strangers.

A Spectator, not a dreamer and not a doer.'s not just luck and hardworkoftheancestor. the US is also wealthy because we've made profit our god, and know how to tithe. in every action, behind so many decisions, and with even our long-inculcated value systems we tithe to the god of greed. and by exploiting all and any that we can in our business models, we are paid back in this "wealth" of mud, of straw, of plastic, of velour. the wealth that Jesus spoke of, and the wealth referenced in this post is of a different sort. and i think by now, i've said, in my fashion, why i think "the Kingdom of Heaven" has not come here. we do not recognize that branch. currency irrelevant.
Yes, Nezua. I am daily amazed that in this supposedly most Christian nation, with churches everywhere and stations in every town devoted to talking about Jesus, there is such a deficit of kindness.

There are more poor than in any other industrialized nation.

There are more murders than in any other nation, excepting those in the midst of a civil war.

More people are in jail than in any other industrialized nation.

More people are denied basic medical care than in any other industrialized nation.

It is not for lack of resources. If there were even a tenth as many Christians as people who claim to be, these problems could be solved without legislation.

I was impressed that Muhammad Yunas had done his good works so perfectly. He gave nothing away, yet many were lifted up from poverty. In this way, he did not even take from his beneficiaries their self-respect. The faith that he expressed in founding the Grameen Bank, a faith that his fellow human beings were fully worthy as fellow children of God, is truly the mustard seed that grows large.

This country talks a lot about doing such things, but in reality there are only a few institutions that even do a bit of real community reinvestment. An entrepreneur without equity can expect to have to borrow at payday lending rates. What kind of legitimate enterprise has that kind of return on investment?
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