Where Angels Fear to Tread is the title of a 1905 novel my E.M. Forster, but it comes from a line from an Alexander Pope poem from 1707 entitled “An Essay on Criticism.” Pope’s line is more apropos of this post. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
God did tread on Haiti. Let’s not believe the forces of nature randomly, haphazardly, or coincidentally came together to shake Haiti. When we’re talking about who can cause the earth to shake, we’re talking about God. And, unlike Pat Robertson, I’m not sure what this says about Haiti, but I am sure what it says to us all: “Repent” (Luke 13: 1-9)! Now for the heresy: I’m not sure it says, “Help!”
While the churchmen will study and weigh theological issues ad infinitum, while when confronted with a controversial point of confession, they will shrewdly say, “I’m not sure what that means,” they show no such caution in the footsteps of God. No, they all know we should help and we should do it by sending money.
LCMS World Relief sounds the alarm as does Lutheran World Relief. LCMS World Relief crows that only 7% of monies raised go to administrative costs. LWF trumpets their’s is 8.9%. Both are good for charitable agencies, but neither are good enough.
To provide a kingdom of the left service LCMS World Relief takes three pastors from the kingdom of the right. Since LWF is headed by an LCMS pastor too, that makes four. There is no reason for this duplication. World relief is something we can and should, in the name of efficiency, cooperate with the ELCA. LWR gives out in aid each year what it takes LCMS World Relief to distribute in three. If it’s only about giving aid in Jesus’ name, if it’s only about kingdom of the left issues, we don’t need two Lutheran agencies. If World Relief is about preaching the Gospel, we are confusing the two kingdoms.
More of this at another time. The real issue for me is rushing in to Haiti with greenbacks flying. I know the world did that; the world always does, but should we? In the President’s State of the Union address, he told how an 8 year old boy sent him his allowance and asked him to give it to the people of Haiti, and the two Houses of Congress went, “Awwwh.” And for 10 dollars sent by this Lutheran, the 100 sent by that Lutheran, the 1,000 sent by this congregation, I’m afraid that’s all we might get.
Here are some tidbits from an article entitled “2 weeks after Haiti quake, food aid falls short” by Associated Press Writers Vivian Sequera And Ben Fox,– Wed Jan 27, 6:15 pm.
– “Street vendors openly sell U.S.-donated rice by the cupful from bags marked “not for resale.” At a homeless camp, a young woman told of thieves who tried to sell her own food back to her.”
– “Whether locked up in warehouses or stolen by thugs from people’s hands, food from the world’s aid agencies still isn’t getting to enough hungry Haitians, leaving the strongest and fittest with the most.”
– “The U.N. food agency urgently appealed to governments for more cash for food for Haiti — $800 million to feed 2 million people through December, more than quadruple the $196 million already pledged.”
– “Fears of official corruption also are surfacing.”
– “Paul Coroleuski of the U.S.-based Convoy of Hope, which has distributed aid in Haiti for three years, said he has more than 100 tons of food in a Port-au-Prince warehouse ready to hand out, but it has been delayed for days by Haitian officials who say they will take over distribution. “
– “Private agencies like his worry that Haitian officials “will do what they always have done, which is the government takes care of the government and the people are secondary,” he said.”
– “’If they turn it over to the Haitian government, they would take it all for themselves,’ said Muller Bellegarde, 30, as he waited for food in the unrelenting tropical sun.”
– “Haitians remember that when the government took charge of delivering international aid to the city of Gonaives after deadly hurricane floods in 2008, much of it ended up sold on the black market.”
It was the same in the latest Ethiopian famine. Tons of money was donated that really did buy loads of food, but it rotted in warehouses or was enjoyed only by a few. It should give us pause when former President of the United States George Bush tells Americans that they should not send food, clothes, or water to Haiti but only money to the private fund he and President Clinton are heading because “trust me; we know how to best spend your money.” If you think politicians really know how to best spend money, you haven’t been paying attention for a few years now.
But what should we do? If you want to send money, by all means do. If you think this is the best way to help, then go ahead and pay. However, don’t begrudge those who don’t. Money might not be a good way to help Haiti. Even if you think it is, consider that you have already paid, are paying and will continue to pay to help Haiti.
These tidbits are from NPR. 80% of Haiti’s Gross Domestic Product is foreign aid. The US provides the lion’s share of that. You are the U.S. The earthquake is said to have destroyed 25% of Haiti’s GDP. Well, you can’t destroy foreign aid, so Haiti’s lost 25% of 20%. The 82nd Airborne is on the ground in Haiti. Who do you think pays for them?
Have you ever noticed that when people want us to buy into a loosening of morals they magnify the size of the world? “Who are you to speak? What are you among so many?” But when they want us to buy, literally, into the world’s problems they shrink the world to the global village. In the first area which the world insists we tread lightly, I think Holy Scripture gives us the right to tread like stormtroopers. In the second area, where the world insists we tread like dragoons, I think a step tempered by angelic fear is more in order.