selective systems of service and poverty

This afternoon I was taking a test for a course called Jesus and the Gospels. I was laboring over questions and getting irritated with myself for not studying more. But there was a time issue – not only a commitment issue. I like Jesus – and the Christian Scriptures that recall the good news that surrounds his stories. I like trying to remember which Gospel is the longest, the shortest, the oldest, the most Jewish. I like trying to recall which Gospel contains what parable and that John’s gospel is the only one in which the hackneyed “for God so loved the world…” passage appears. Some of it is rote memorization for memorization’s sake, but I do like knowing, at least, that Jesus does say “I am the way,” but that he only says it in one of the four Gospels. Only one of the writers chose to put that phrase on the lips of Jesus. I think that is interesting. But this isn’t the point.

The point is more along these lines: I was unprepared for the test. And there was a time issue as well as a commitment issue. There was a time issue because I work 26 hours a week on top of a full-time course load at school. I work that much, because I’m out of money and the school won’t let me take classes unless I pay it quickly. Now, one of the reasons that I don’t have money is because I don’t have any federal loans. Our government doesn’t want to pay me to go to school because I decided to resist the system that sets our young men up to fight in the military. I remembered this last week too, because I was trying to get a driver’s license. Mine expired because, in Virginia, I can’t renew or obtain one if I don’t register with the Selective Service System (the one that sets our young men up to fight in the military). So, this last summer, I learned what it was like to try to work with a bureaucracy without documentation (I at least got a glimpse, but I even had a passport). I had a really hard time getting a driver’s license without already having one – ironic I thought.

We’re closer to the/(a) point now. I was unprepared for the test – because I am working a lot and time is an issue – because I don’t have enough money for school – because the government (the “democracy”) that we live under doesn’t like my politics. I’m not blaming my bad test grade on the government – or my bad politics, but I think something is interesting here. I’m having a really hard time keeping my grades up, (partly) because (one could say) I’m struggling financially. Now, consider how difficult it is to get a decent job in this country without an education. And now we’re back where we started and my rambling is over. There’s a cycle here that is disturbing – the poor stay poor. Sometime we can talk about how the rich stay rich.

Where are the Christians in all of this? Do Anabaptists, in particular, have anything unique to add to this phenomenon?