I’ve already commented on the books Radical and Fast Living, but I want to add a couple additional thoughts. I missed two very important things.
In Fast Living, Todd suggests that people living on less than $2 per day are extremely poor. I don’t think too many of us would disagree with that. However, he feels that saying all people in the USA are also poor, just in other ways,* tends to minimize the tremendous difference between being materially poor and poor in “other ways”. I agree.
Are there some people in the USA who suffer daily because they are intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually poor? Absolutely. Do they all suffer to the same degree as those living in extreme material poverty? Probably not. Material poverty has unique consequences. One of them is a lack of options to help their condition. People in the USA who are intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually poor have options for help. True, they may not use them, but options are available.
I think it is important to acknowledge the fact that human beings can be in need spiritually, intellectually, or emotionally. These are real needs that need addressed. But calling them “poor” tends to do a disservice to the materially poor. Is there a way to describe these conditions without using the word “poor”? Perhaps it’s as simple as a synonym. Here are a few nominees: needy, weak, challenged, or feeble. Just a thought.
*concept drawn from When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert
As for the book Radical, I realized that I failed to mention one of Platt’s most clear presentations – the Americanization of Christianity. My first thought was to politics. There seem to be a lot of Christians with some pretty strong opinions about how the government should handle certain national issues. On occasion I’ve asked the opinion giver, “As far as you understand Jesus’ words and life, how do you think he would respond to this issue?” The replies are usually, “I don’t know BUT…” and they repeat something they heard on talk radio or 24/7 TV news. Who are we listening to? Who do we follow? What are we to do?
Honestly, I don’t know how Jesus would respond either. And that bothers me. I am so ignorant of my Lord that I can’t apply his principles to everyday life. Or maybe deep inside of me I do know how he would respond and I don’t like it. So I ignore it. I’m not sure which is worse – neglectful ignorance or deliberate disobedience.
Platt’s book has pushed me to become more knowledgeable and obedient to the one I declare as my Lord. For me, any other choice is a fraud.