Posted by: rogermitchell | March 16, 2011

kenarchic politics (3) making the poor a priority

This third guideline for kenarchic politics is to make the poor our priority. This is very simple to state, but its implications are once again overwhelming in their reach. Jesus made it clear that his good news specifically belongs to the poor. This is unavoidable in his teaching, and inescapable from his practice. His proclamation of good news for the poor was the sign of his authenticity as the prophesied Messiah (Lk 7:22) and he specifically said that his kingdom belonged to them (Mtt 5:3). Luke makes clear that as well as the poor in spirit this literally referred to the abjectly physical poor (Lk 6:20 – the Greek word ptōchos literally means a beggar). While rich people came to him, on just about every occasion that he took the initiative he chose to connect with the poor. As I understand it this gives kenarchic politics a permanent bias to the poor.

It is the political responsibility of the repositioned ecclesia to take care of the poor. We cannot let their prosperity trickle down from the benefits of big business profits or the charitable giving of the high salaries of the professionally successful. The welfare of the poor has to be our priority. This means fundamental redistribution of wealth and the recalibrating of social priorities. But nor can we let their overwhelming need drown us or paralyse us, we need to collaborate with the Holy Spirit in discovering the specific priorities within the overall need that are the ones to focus on at any given time. Whatever else we do we need to be abandoned by faith to God and one another in such a way that the whole of our kenarchic approach is geared to the eradication of poverty.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor, and there is no need there. Our task is to pray and work to bring heaven here. So heaven is our constant counterpolitical template for action. All kenarchic politics are impacted by this bias. So the preceding guidelines relating to children and the creation are compounded by this third guideline. Issues of child poverty and particular care for the creation as it touches the poor become key overall issues on which to focus revelation, research and action.



  1. An assignment looms and I am not looking forward to it, but this post was the encouragement to keep going. The poor are very much on my heart and what can be done to lift the heads of those around me, to remove the stumbling blocks put in their way and that is why I chose to do the course I am doing – managing sustainable rural development. Sustainable because unless we get that bit right there is no point in doing what we are doing because it will not last.

  2. It seems to me that neo-conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have made the poor their priority. They are hell-bent against cheating in any form. If you are going to be poor then you are going to have to prove your need and your honesty – no free handouts and no choices with what you get. Yup, the poor are their priority.

    I note the recent new laws in the state of Michigan where in order to finance a corporate tax break that further harms the state budget the new governor has decided to raise taxes on seniors (often lower income) and the poor. True. He is going to take money from those in the most need and hand it over to corporations that often make billions in profits. A kind of reverse Robin Hood.

    In the state of Florida the new neoconservative ( and ethically challenged) governor (he was in trouble for ethical violations when a leader in the health care industry) has also immediately granted new tax cuts for businesses, also to the harm of the state budget. The solution: why take it out of public education, which generally hurts low-income children the most.

    And we have all been watching the state of Wisconsin where in an effort to pay off his own budget-busting corporate tax break the governor recently got a law passed, despite massive protests, to ultimately break up the unions and unions rights to collectively bargain. Another move that will penalize the poor as much or more so than the middle-class.

    And here is a story today from the state of Minnesota. There Republican law makers there are so worried about the cheating poor who are receiving assistance that they want to make sure it is illegal for them to ever have cash in their pockets to, you know, pay for groceries, gas etc. No, they want those on assistance (including the disabled) to use only a state granted debit card only at certain stores. Ummm, do I smell a whiff of a scam here? How fortuitous that certain businesses will be the only ones able to do business with the state assisted poor and disabled no matter what that population’s needs really are. Here’s the URL for the story. It frankly is close to unbelievable. The war on the poor continues under neoconservatives!


  3. The poor are indeed at the very heart of the Kingdom of God,but the church has forgotten them.The poor are not represented at any level in church life that I can see.The poor and working class people of this country are excluded from the very place they should be accepted.
    The church in our nation is now the sole domain of the middle class,its practice and theology shaped by there values and world view.This is in stark contrast to the church of the New testament.Where everything was shared and redistribution was practised.I find it increasingly frustrating seeking to build relationships with these churchs and in some ways I wonder if its worth the effort.I thinks its time for the poor of our nation ,the working class people to take back its lead in the church by staying in there own locations and forming there own church ,shaping there theology and practice without the interference of the middle class church.
    The syste mwill continue to blame the poor and steal from them.There land will be taken there benifits cut and there opportunities for change will be stolen.The poor will continue to be able to buy drugs and cheap booze because that keeps them in a haze.The media will continue to talk about dole scroungers as the BBC constantly does and people will believe it.Its time for us to speak out against these powers and say let my people go.These words need to be spoken to both the powers at be and to the church.can the poor please have its church back.

    Here are some good ideas

  4. sorry about the spelling mistakes typed in the dark lol

  5. O my. I’ve not read your blog for a few days but have been grapplling with the same thing this weekend. I have to conclude that I am the problem. I didn’t vote for this government, but in truth the alternative would have been no better. Yet I have stood by and let them get on with it. I know that I’m preaching to the choir here to suggest that democracy doesn’t really help us here – we all vote for the government that will serve us best – so what we get is a government as selfish as we are. However, I wonder whether the recent forests campaign provides something of a model that demonstrates when enough people say ‘No’ then things change. So I think I’m with Billy here, that we need to speak out. I feel that there is something of a prophetic emphasis here and I would expect that God is starting to stir up a number of people about this issue. Perhaps now is the time for us to join together and start doing something about it.

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