[  http://LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/blessings.html ]

An in depth view of
Happiness & "Blessings" :






If you woke up this morning with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the million who won't survive the week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle,
the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or
the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of
20 million people around the world.

If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment,
arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost
three billion people in the world.


If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back,a roof over
your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change
in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare,
especially in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful,
you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.


If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder,
you are blessed because you can offer God's healing touch.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over
two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

You are so blessed in ways you may never even know.





[ The author, I am told, was Stephen Eardley.
It came to me originally in a chain email with no attribution and no copyright info.
I have since traced this romantic tableau to
http://www.dobhran.com/greetings/GRinspire294.htm ]

As beautiful as this tableau may seem, however,
a long life and much reflection have moved me to have
serious reservations about it, as I will explain below:

Are Riches and Material Prosperity "blessings" from God ?

It may sound like paying God a compliment to thank him for material prosperity.  But there are some serious theological issues with the view that prosperity, good fortune of any kind, and even good health, are "blessings" from God.
        The main problem is that if we interpret good things that happen in people's lives as "blessings" from God, what should we call the bad things that can only happen if God wants them to happen, such as the losses of thousands of the people in the Christmas Tsunami of 2004, the Pakistan earthquake of 2005 (which killed and made homeless many times more people) and Hurricane Katrina in 2005?  If you and your family of five boys and five girls were drowning at sea and someone with a big boat came along and saved the boys, but left the girls to drown, when he could have saved ALL of them, would you praise him for saving your sons and forget about his allowing your daughters to die?
        How can we credit GOD for our "blessings" without crediting him for our "curses" as well? How can we view God as responsible for the prosperity of the very few, some of whom have more wealth than they could possibly use in a hundred lifetimes, without thereby making God likewise responsible for the misery of the millions of people who are starving to death for lack of such "blessings"?
        In my humble opinion, it would be better theology to view those who have received more of the good things in life than others (through no effort of their own) as "fortunate" rather than "blessed".  And rather than viewing prosperous people as the beneficiaries of some kind of reward from God, shouldn't we view them as entrusted with a responsibility to share their good fortune with others, in keeping with Luke 3:11 : "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food (in excess of what he needs, or anything else) must do likewise".
        Although the Old Testament may have often treated earthly prosperity as blessings from God, Jesus did very much the opposite, requiring that in order to be saved the prosperous must distribute their riches to the poor.  Jesus clearly favored the poor over the rich.
        When people of means proclaim that God has "blessed them" with their riches, isn't that a way of saying that their prosperity is God's doing and that consequently it should not be questioned?

Is it God who has "blessed America"


with its riches and dominance of the world ?

Christian Conservatives have a love/hate relationship with America.  On the one hand, when talking amongst themselves, they despise America for its secular Constitution and "separation of Church and State".  See a whole web page we devote to this matter at

LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/about/godbless.html.

        On the other hand, when America is compared to other nations, these same Conservatives suddenly imagine that God has so blessed America, that it must be "the apple of his eye."  They think of it as the best country in the world, the one blessed with the most God-given natural wealth and prosperity.
        From the beginning, white Europeans have treated "the New World" as a gift from God. 
        They thanked God for enabling them to "discover" the "new world"!  White European churches sent "missionaries" to "convert" the peaceful inhabitants of this "new world" – which was hardly new to the people who had been living here for hundreds, if not thousands of years –.  Before Columbus, the representative of "Christianity" began the killing of thousands upon thousands of the "infidels" who supposedly needed to "find Christ", this is the way he described them:

"[T]hey are so free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it.  Of anything they have, if you ask them for it they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them."

If God "blessed" America with the scourge of white European Christians who conquered, enslaved, converted and/or killed millions of the former Americans, by virtue of their superior ships, canons and guns, then what kind of God is this?
        After conquering lands to which they had no right, and either killing or chasing off the former Americans – who often believed that the land which they occupied and cared for belonged to God and was to be used for the benefit of ALL of God's children, – those supposedly "Christian" white European conquerors and missionaries proceeded to enrich themselves and their "new world", through the use of millions of "new Americans" dragged over from Africa, people who would work almost for free.  Once again, there are those who imagine that it was God who "blessed" the white, so-called "Christians" with the superior ships, canons and guns and their "entrepreneurial spirit" that made "the New World" so prosperous.  Although there are at least six times as many European Americans as African Americans today, prior to the abolition of slavery, six times as many Africans had emigrated to the Americas by force, as had White Europeans come to these shores voluntarily.
        Once again, if God "blessed" America with this scourge of white Europeans, who conquered, enslaved, converted and/or killed millions of the Africans, by virtue of their superior ships, canons and guns, then what kind of God is this?
        To see why the "discovery" of the Americas is not an event that true "Christians" should celebrate, explore the many insightful pages of www.ColumbusNoHero.Org

This brings up a related issue.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Center study, the more Conservative, the more pious and the more Republican you are, the happier :
[ http://pewresearch.org/social/pack.php?PackID=1 ]

Happiness chart         "Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972." (and this holds true for all income levels:) "If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats."
        "People who attend religious services weekly or more are happier (43% very happy) than those who attend monthly or less (31%); or seldom or never (26%). This correlation between happiness and frequency of church attendance has been a consistent finding in the General Social Surveys taken over the years."


        As a very pious Christian clergyman and a very Liberal Democrat, I don't envy Conservatives and/or Republicans their happiness, because I doubt that this "happiness" is even compatible with "the Good News" that Jesus was all about.

or according to Luke 6: 20-30

"Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
But I say to you that listen,

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also;
and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.'

It has been reported that conservative Republican "Christians" say they are happy more than liberal Democrats do. Might the reason be that they are better than liberals are at severing their connection to their brothers and sisters in this world, i.e. all the children who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, or lack of education or health insurance, and the like? Approximately 24,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes.  That translates into one person dying every 3.6 seconds – 74% of whom are children.  ( from www.thehungersite.com).

Jesus spelled out exactly
what He considered "blessings":

While "Christian Conservatives" espouse the idea that riches are "blessings" from God,  
Jesus proclaimed that it is the very opposite that he and/or God consider blessed:

{Matthew 5} 
        "When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain;
and his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak,
and he taught them, saying:

Jesus Picture "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are
persecuted for righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,  for
in the same way they persecuted the prophets who went before you."

Does God issue to clergy or others a "franchise" of sorts
enabling them to distribute "blessings" in his name?

As a Christian clergyman myself, it makes me uncomfortable to see clergy or others act as though they have been issued a divine franchise to distribute God's blessings or to "pray for" others.  I don't have any more right to issue God's "blessings" to anybody than Catholic clergy have a right to issue divine "indulgences" to sinners (that's "get out of afterlife punishment early" cards for those of you who aren't familiar with the Roman Catholic Church game).
        No doubt some people who go around praying for others are sincere, but I'm not sure that God thinks of them as highly as they think of themselves.  Jesus taught that the humble sinners, not the proud church-goers, are the ones whom God prizes: "The tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'  I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other (; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." {Luke 18: 10-14}
        When, in a context of disagreement, people say to others "I will pray for you" or "God bless you",  what I hear is:  "It may take a miracle to make someone as wrong and evil as you are, as good and as right as I am,  but I'll use my special connection with God to see if God will give it a try."  How pious!  (or is the word "sanctimonious"?)

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Ray@LiberalsLikeChrist.Org
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