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A Priest's Message of Love this Christmas: Shoplifting May be the Best Option for Some

By       Message Grant Lawrence     Permalink
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"I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices....." The Rev. Tim Jones, a British Anglican Priest, discussing the birth of Jesus and the desperate circumstances of the poor.

This good and decent man is being roundly criticized for realistically looking at the options created by society for a large portion of its citizens as another Christmas approaches.

The Rev. Jones observed in his sermon, "We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime."

I realize that much of Christianity (at least here in America) has degenerated into Social Darwinism, a philosophy that brutal competition without social supports or charity makes for a better individual and society. Yet this 19th century idea, viewed today as an important philosophy of Christian Fundamentalism, is not in the spirit of original Christianity.

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The early Christian communities embraced communalism, compassion, and charity.

So the right Reverend is merely extolling the virtues of early Christianity by trying to get his parishioners to look at the world beyond Anti-Christian 'Free Market' Capital/Capitalism blinders. He plainly, realistically, and boldly examines the options available to the poor.

"When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly," he says.

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"Others are tempted towards prostitution, a nightmare world of degradation and abuse for all concerned. Others are tempted towards suicide. Instead, I would rather that they shoplift," Reverend Jones observes.

Although the Reverend's advice is not moral in the classical sense, it is certainly based on Love.

Moralists are deeply upset with the Reverend's observations and assessments. Moralists as we know, apply morality to everyone and everything except themselves. But morality taken out of context, outside of circumstances, and not tempered with compassion is certainly foolish, often fiendish, and not very helpful.

Those same moral purists are attacking the Reverend for his 'moral relativism.'

But many of those moralists worship a Christian God, a moral relativist when dealing with his children.

Jesus talked about God being like the good dad in the story of the "Prodigal Son" who takes back his wayward child with open arms, even after his son committed all manner of evil and indignities. God, in this instance, abandons the classical 'Thou Shalts' and doesn't condemn or punish his son. He Lovingly accepts his son back merely because he is his son.

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Jesus himself did things that were not seen as morally proper in his day and culture, like healing and performing miracles on the Sabbath.

Jesus also condemned Scribes and Pharisees for their proper 'moral' behaviors while possessing dark and evil hearts. Jesus, according to the bible, said that Prostitutes and the hated Tax Collectors would get into heaven before those Scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus stopped the stoning of a Prostitute by calling the attention of the would be killers to their own sins.

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