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Psalm 10 and the Breeding of Pride

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By Ernesto Tinajero

Recently, as my family prepares for another disruptive surgery, I have been praying through the Psalms and posting the meditations of my heart on my personal blog. I have made it through to Psalm 10 and I want to share it here before posting it on my blog. The reason is because this Psalm is calling on God to answer the injustice of the wealthy toward the poor and it seems like a timely topic as we are in the middle of the greatest divide of inequality since the Gilded Age. In that age, Christians rose up in mass to protest the rising inequality. Christians, then, saw the rise as the result of social Darwinism and secular materialism. What a hundred year changes. Today, rather than rising up and calling out philosophers like Ayn Rand and others who updated the Social Darwinistic thinking, Christians aren’t rising up. The question is why.

I recently saw a Ted Talk by a social science team, about how people respond to a rigged game of Monopoly.

The researcher looked at how privilege affects us. In this version of Monopoly, two players were assigned different roles. The game was like normal Monopoly except that one player got to roll more dice and collect more money when they passed Go. In other words, they got more advantages and privileges to the point they could not lose.

While they got this privilege simply by the literal flip of a coin or by randomness, they started to think of themselves as better players than the one in a weaker position. The rich were better than the poor. They taunted the weaker player and then when asked to evaluate the game, they pointed to the superior play. Their built in advantages factored little in their own evaluation of their play, even though that was the single most important reason for their success. They also showed less and less concern for the other player as their dominance in the game grew. The became more belligerent to poor player. They turned to the sin of pride and swam in it as pig in muck. Also, it seemed that few seemed immune to this growing pride. Much like many of us, we indulge in pride if we forget that we are simply ash and dust in the wind of time. The social science team could have saved time as the biblical wisdom on the sin of pride beats them to their conclusions.

The parallels to current reality are frightening and can explain Psalm 9 in tying the oppression of the poor to evil. Pride makes us blind to the gifts we have been given and makes us think we are the authors of our own glory. We are the job creators and we think we should be treated with what is akin to reverence. Yes, we still love the original sin and think of ourselves as God. When we think that we are the cause of our success and not a gift from God, we start to act as the player with all the advantages without seeing them. We think it is our own efforts which made us and we grow in pride.

When we can see past our nose and discover the pain of the poor, we start to demand justice like Psalm 9. Then after we wait and look at history, we see nothing changes. Many times those who were oppressed rise up from their shackles, only to become the next generation of oppressors. The slaves of Egypt become the oppressors the minor prophets wail against in disgust. We then arrive at Psalm 10. Why has not God acted? Why do the evil doers continue to oppress

Psalm 10 opens out into a dilemma. Psalm 9 tied evil to the oppression of the poor and calls on God to act on behalf of the poor. Psalm 10 prays in what seems to be the response. God has not yet acted against the evildoers and their oppression of the poor. The prayer pleads for God not to hide his face in the face of such injustice. God seems silent and the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and we start to hold them in distain for their poverty.

Yet, God did act and it should frighten us. When God became man he chose to live with the poor and to be poor. Jesus was homeless, even though he could have had a Park Avenue address. He chose to walk with the poor. The Incarnation was God’s answer to those who viewed their success as theirs and not a gift to be use to love God and love others. Through out the Gospel, Jesus talks about the poor and how we will be oppressed will be answered. The question for us followers of Christ: Do we join the saints of the past and call on at the very least, the closing of the divide between rich or poor? For to side with the poor is the be biblical.

About Ernesto Tinajero

Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.

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