In today’s paper I read an article that talk about the development of new houses in a city called Polokwane. The article is entitled, "Rich Poor to live together".
According to the article the minister of housing [Lindiwe Sisulu] proposes that no high-end housing developments be approved unless the developments include 20% housing for poor people in the same area. She said that "she’s striving for areas where people with high-, medium and low income live as neighbours."
This article strikes me as very gospel. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ who became poor for our sakes. It is obviously bad news for those who believe in the gospel of capitalism with its inevitable outcome of extremely rich people and dirt poor ones. The article is also ironic in that here in South Africa we already live as rich and poor together; a fact that rich people try to forget by developing communities with no visible reminder of the poverty we encourage. Suburbia serves as an inoculator against poverty.
It saddens me that the gospel has been intermixed with so many of the ideals of capitalism. Why is it that we think that God’s blessings have us as the main recipients? I am more convinced than ever that the gospel should be good news to the poor. Over the weekend I read Parker Palmer’s brilliant article on community called "A place called community." In it he gives a stinging reminder of what community is NOT. He reminds us that community is not "an extension and expansion of our own egos." Palmer writes,
"In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as that place where the person you least want to live with always lives! If we live this way we can avoid the trap that Richard Sennett has called "the purified community." Here, as in the typical suburb, one is surrounded by likeness to the extent that challenge is unlikely and growth is impossible. In true community there will be enough diversity and conflict to shale loose our need to make the world in our own image. True community will teach us the meaning of the prayer "Thy will, not mine, be done." p.20
Yesterday I read a book entitled "Tending the Garden". It’s a book with essays on our responsibility towards creation and the poor. In one of the essays the idea is set forth that all material blessings are meant as tools for building community. Our community is praying a lot about our responsibility towards the poor of our country – we’re excited! Please pray for us, that God will give us wisdom.