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Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving…
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Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity (1990)

by Ronald J. Sider

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"During the twenty years since Ron Sider's bestseller Rich Christians in an Age
of Hunger first appeared, we have made dramatic progress. This thoroughly
revised edition outlines the good news - and how much we still have to do.
Every day 34,000 children still die of starvation and preventable diseases, and
1.3 billion people live in relentless, unrelieved poverty worldwide.
Why is there still so much poverty? Conservatives blame sinful individual
choices and laziness. Liberals condemn economic and social structures. Who is
right? Who is wrong? both, according to Sider, who explains poverty's complex
causes in this new edition and offers concrete, practical proposals for
change." --back cover
  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
Do you want to make a true difference in the world? Dr. Ron Sider does. He has, since before he first published Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger in 1978. Despite a dramatic reduction in world hunger since then, 34,000 children still die daily of starvation and preventable disease, and 1.3 billion people, worldwide, remain in abject poverty. So, the professor of theology went back to re-examine the issues by twenty-first century standards. Finding that Conservatives blame morally reprehensible individual choices, and Liberals blame constrictive social and economic policy, Dr. Sider finds himself agreeing with both sides. In this new look at an age-old problem, he offers not only a detailed explanation of the causes, but also a comprehensive series of practical solutions, in the hopes that Christians like him will choose to make a difference.
  OCMCCP | Jan 10, 2018 |
The first half of the book is very dated as far as to statistics, wealth distribution, death from hunger rates, etc. I'm sure it is even more sobering now. The second half of the book deals with what the Bible says about wealth and possessions. Even though I "knew" this, it is certainly fodder for serious thought and leaves me with the question, "What am I to do now"? 225 pages, 4 stars ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Apr 12, 2017 |

"Can overfed, comfortably clothed, and luxuriously housed persons understand poverty?" is how the book opens. The first chapter closes with this summary of what the book talks about:

"Imagine what one quarter of the world's Christians could do if they became truly generous. A few of us could move...to desperately poor areas. The rest of us could defy surrounding materialism. We could refuse to let our affluent world squeeze us into its consumeristic mold. Instead, we could become generous non-conformists who love Jesus more than wealth. In obedience to our Lord, we could empower the poor through small loans, community development, and better societal systems. And in the process, we would learn again his paradoxical truth that true happiness flows from generosity."


Sider gets much of the economics correct in this book, and I wouldn't skip over any of the more "technical" chapters. He is advocating not just confronting the system with our choices, but fundamentally advocating changing the unjust system itself. This is where he steps on toes, but my only concern was that I think some liberal-leaning Christians use this book to say things that Sider does not say.
For example, Sider understands the incredible potential for free trade to empower poor people in developing countries to move up the economic ladder. However, because the North (wealthy countries) uses its enormous leverage to negotiate trade deals in a manner that benefits the North rather than the South (poor countries) the poor don't get as large a benefit as they should. I know some misguided Christians who take this and begin advocating against free trade deals, not understanding (as Sider does) that some trade is better than no trade.

Sider, like James Halteman, calls for a more Book of Acts style community way of living. To help each other make consumption decisions and to find ways to better invest in our communities. Sider is basically talking about house churches and deep community. Of choosing to live at a lower standard of living so that your income can be given to others.

I struggle with thinking of these aspects as they relate to economic development.

Let's suppose that tomorrow all Christians in the U.S. lived more simply-- buying much less stuff, refusing to buy on credit, growing much of their own food, and sharing their possessions as needed rather than replacing items. This would have an immediate negative impact on U.S. GDP. Prices would fall, output would decline, and unemployment would rise. As much of the stuff we buy comes directly or indirectly from developing countries, the negative impact would be felt there as well. Christians would all be healthier and happier (and the environment would be better off) but what about the rest of the world?

It's plausible that, providing income remains constant, the decrease in consumption would increase private saving and national saving. As that occurs, money would flow abroad to foreign countries, funding investment opportunities there, lowering interest rates for poor people to borrow to start new businesses, etc.

This is a question not fully explored in any text I've read. I think the implicit assumption is that so few Christians would choose to adopt a simpler lifestyle that it's overall effects would be nil. We would essentially still free ride off the consumption habits of everyone else (and hence, still have jobs).

While I agree with 95% of Sider's book, I just struggle with the overall macroeconomic picture. Is it better to send your $10 to sponsor a World Vision child, or spend your money on stuff that the child (or her parents) manufacture in a factory where they live?
My basic answer is that one should be aware of the consequences of your choices. If you're spending $10 on a meal, are you aware that that $10 could go to feed a child somewhere else for a month? Are your repeated purchases of new electronics helping fuel the war and rape in the Congo, where the valuable raw materials are mined? No easy answers.

I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5. It's a book that I think every Christian should read. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
Rereading the first edition after so many years, the numbers Sider cited are all way out of date, as are some of the issues but the core of his argument, that people of faith have a moral obligation to live simply and to work to change unjust social structures, still resonates as strongly as ever. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0849945305, Paperback)

Do you want to make a true difference in the world? Dr. Ron Sider does. He has, since before he first published Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger in 1978. Despite a dramatic reduction in world hunger since then, 34,000 children still die daily of starvation and preventable disease, and 1.3 billion people, worldwide, remain in abject poverty. So, the professor of theology went back to re-examine the issues by twenty-first century standards. Finding that Conservatives blame morally reprehensible individual choices, and Liberals blame constrictive social and economic policy, Dr. Sider finds himself agreeing with both sides. In this new look at an age-old problem, he offers not only a detailed explanation of the causes, but also a comprehensive series of practical solutions, in the hopes that Christians like him will choose to make a difference.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Do you want to make a true difference in the world? Dr. Ron Sider does. He has, since before he first published Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger in 1978. Despite a dramatic reduction in world hunger since then, 34,000 children still die daily of starvation and preventable disease, and 1.3 billion people, worldwide, remain in abject poverty. So, the professor of theology went back to re-examine the issues by twenty-first century standards. Finding that Conservatives blame morally reprehensible individual choices, and Liberals blame constrictive social and economic policy, Dr. Sider finds himself agreeing with both sides. In this new look at an age-old problem, he offers not only a detailed explanation of the causes, but also a comprehensive series of practical solutions, in the hopes that Christians like him will choose to make a difference.… (more)

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