vendredi 27 juin 2008

Giving what - if aught at all - to beggars (from a message board on xt3)

My first post on the subject (quotes from a R C priest, with whom I obviously disagree, somewhat):

"While not excluding the possibility of giving money to the homeless or beggars I think that it is probably best either to give them some food, or even offer to go with them and buy them some food or a hot drink."
  • a) That will not wash and dry their clothes
  • b) That will keep them warm on winter morns and evenings, but not as long as an hour in a café or a cyber - nevertheless, not getting that, one will take the food and the coffee
  • c) That does contain sugar and fat

"As well, if there are beggars who regularly ask for help outside your parish you could find out where the nearest charitable services are located, so you can tell them where they could find some help."
  • a) crowded, and often a sure way to get on terms of camaraderie with people who are in deep trouble or sometimes put their equals in trouble (by "responsibility"), unless you harden your heart each time and say "hey - you'r not the kind of company I want"
  • b) personnel who sneer if you do not get a work
  • c) not always the best hours for your needs
  • d) a very sure way to get socially stamped, so you can't get the company you do want

As a matter of fact, I have in Aix and Marseille, mainly Aix, in wintertimes since my arrival for New Year 2006, lost stamina and teeth. Since ma is diabetic (the slow type, when you don't need insulin) I am getting worried about that too.

Hans Lundahl

I might add: the humiliation of people heeding your advice drives some to anger, others to drink or drugs, and some even further down.

I might also add: yes, when St Augustine exposes the words of the Sermon on the Mount "let noone depart emptyhanded" by noting that a correction is sometimes better than material alms, he is not speaking - according to the examples he gives - about the foods or drinks the person might use the money for (St Paul said something about judging people or letting oneself be judged on that account) but about beggars who ask for (pre- or extramarital) sex or for weapons to subvert the state.

I might also add: when you pay money in taxes to the state, what you pay is anyway money, what the man on the dole gets is often enough money, and furthermore you are paying a lot of people to hold a check on him which almost automatically harms his reputation and may harm his affairs and - when we come to psychiatric expertise - health.

Second post I made on that thread, today:

[after recommending to give the money to charitable organisations, the priest motivates:] "In this way we can be more certain that the money we give will be used well."

Why need that certainty?

Giving alms has two aims, naturally speaking, but related to the needs of the soul:
  • - knowing that the other one has something to use for his needs;
  • - knowing that you do not abuse it by keeping it.

Not the other way around, like:
  • - "knowing the other one does not abuse it by getting it";
  • - and (though it is something to consider in setting limits for the alms you give) knowing I have something to use for myself.

When the devil appeared to St Martin, telling him he had given his half mantle to himself the one below, St Martin answered he had given it to the beggar. I e he was not guilty for being beguiled by the one begging. Christ confirmed it by the dream he had a later night by appearing clothed in that half mantle.

When St Nicholas was told someone had already come to the distribution of food, he told back that maybe it was Christ testing us.

The case of the beggar in front of the Church door is hypocritical too:
  • - if he's drunk while asking passers out from Holy Mass for money, he should not be allowed to stay there, there are sober and polite beggars enough, who will not make the sortie unpleasant;
  • - if he is not drunk when begging, how do you know he is a drunkard who would abuse the alms?

There is ONE good reason to give him food instead though; that being if you see him waiting to get enough together to eat and therefore hungry. And a good sandwich is usually appreciated. But if someone has already done that, there is no use in two more people doing the same, and if he is only eating instead of begging in front of the Church door - where will he eat in the afternoon or evening, then?

I think the moral theologians who recommend buying food or drink or not giving at all, rather than giving money, are to Christ's sermon on the Mount, what Hillel was to Moses. Not a loyal exegete, to say the least, that is.

Hans Lundahl
14/27 of June 2008

PS/ there is this to it too:
"In California, we saw the courts affirm the government’s right to compel Catholic charities to cover contraceptive services, regardless that the Church considers these sinful."

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