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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Congressman Cramer, Marie Antoinette, and Lenin... and Patrick Henry

Raw Story:
A Facebook question from a Bismark, North Dakota resident to his congressman started off rockily yesterday, when the congressman dismissed a religious argument opposed to cuts in the federal food stamp program with a religious quote.
“2 Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) posted in reply Friday afternoon to an inquiry from Kevin Tengesdal, a Bismark-based actor and activist.
House Republicans narrowly passed deep cuts to the food stamp program Thursday, despite opposition from the Senate and a veto threat from President Obama. In a op-ed published on his office webpage Friday, Cramer railed against exemptions to the work requirement for food stamps, arguing that “We can generate $20 billion in savings by ending these waivers while encouraging able-bodied people to work … When did America become a country where working for benefits is no longer noble?”
The quote Cramer used in reply to Tengesdal is an admonition against Christians failing to plant seed and harvest food because anticipation of the imminent return of Christ might seemingly make that toil unnecessary...
Marie Antionette, who was actually quite a fine Austrian lady, allowed that under circumstances of malnourishment or under-nourishment, the poor who had no bread, could eat cake instead, or brioches, if you will. A brioche is more like a roll than a creamy, rich cake.

St. Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians might be written with the obvious meaning that the Second Coming is very soon, and "toil is unnecessary", thus reminding us of the lilies of the field, or it might be a bit more like a parable, and mean that he who does not prepare himself spiritually for the Second Coming will miss out.

In either case, the spirit of Mr. Cramer's quote is closer to Lenin:

On The Famine
A Letter To The Workers Of Petrograd
22 May, 1918

“He who does not work, neither shall he eat”—how is this to be put into effect? It is as clear as daylight that in order to put it into effect we require, first, a state grain monopoly, i.e., the absolute prohibition of all private trade in grain, the compulsory delivery of all surplus grain to the state at a fixed price, the absolute prohibition of all hoarding and concealment of surplus grain, no matter by whom.
Secondly, we require the strictest registration of all grain surpluses, faultless organisation of the transportation of grain from places of abundance to places of shortage, and the building up of reserves for consumption, for processing, and for seed.
Thirdly, we require a just and proper distribution of bread, controlled by the workers’ state, the proletarian state, among all the citizens of the state, a distribution which will permit of no privileges and advantages for the rich.

I think the spirit is much closer to Mr. Cramer. The words seem different; sort of which whom do we attack? the rich or the poor?
If that is the case, then the spirit is the same, that is, an attack against some group, and it is merely the target of the mean-spirited attack which is different.
(As I write this, I stop and wonder just how clearly we truly understand the statements we make: all those "truths" of politics and life and religion we hold so dear... do we understand them as through a darkling mirror?
For, indeed, the words of Thessalonians are unclear to me, for those who "eat" but do not work are called "busybodies", and there is no indication that there is a subsidy of bread to them, nor that they beg for food. St. Paul seems to be talking about something quite apart from our daily squabbles.)

Nonetheless, the use of St. Paul to back up a dubious political stand is atrocious. Let every saint denounce those religious carpet-baggers who seek to confound us with inspired words squeezed dry of every last drop of spirituality!

In summation, we paraphrase Patrick Henry

""Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, France's Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, had their Revolution, and the Republican House Majority...
  — [at this point, "Treason!" cried the Speaker of the House]
... may profit by their example. 
If this be treason, make the most of it."


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