I read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich this summer…and it was FANtastic! I highly recommend it.
In one part, Barbara describes coming upon and attending an old-fashioned tent revival. By this point, she’s already experienced how difficult it is to simply get by in America as a member of the working class…and by that I mean held two jobs because she couldn’t survive on one. And survival doesn’t include healthcare, good healthy produce or other groceries, or even a “real” place to live (usually she was relegated to a hotel room–like so many others who don’t have enough money for the deposit and first month’s rent somewhere else…and doesn’t make enough to save enough).
Here’s what she says about the scene at the revival:
“The preaching goes on, interrupted by dutiful ‘amens.’ It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth. I would like to stay around for the speaking in tongues, should it occur, but the mosquitoes, worked into a frenzy by all this talk of His blood, are launching a full-scale attack. I get up to leave, timing my exit for when the preacher’s metronomic head movements have him looking the other way, and walk out to search for my car, half expecting to find Jesus out there in the dark, gagged and tethered to a tent pole” (pp.68-69).
We talk about how Jesus came to save us, and that he died on the cross for our sins, and how that’s enough for all of us. But what good is salvation when you struggle to put food on the table and fear taking even one day off work because the loss of one day’s pay might mean the loss of one day’s food for you and your family? What good is salvation when you have to work more than one job just to make ends meet, without the safety net of healthcare should something happen to you on the job? And if something does happen to you on the job, you are forced to suck it up and keep on working. What good is a dead Jesus at any time? What good is a dead Jesus to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status?