THE OBJECT OF CHARITY – A Look at What The Church Has Thought About and Done About Poverty [LDT063]

Dr. Joseph Strife
Dr. Joseph Strife

“Probably the best known statement about charity, approaching the status of a truism, is, ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’ This has been supplemented by various further suggestions, including investigating who owns the pond, forming a fishing collective, or supporting community organizing methods which will allow this beleaguered fisherman to choose his own goals. But fish distribution, in various modes, remains across the board the primary faith-based response to poverty and need, performed on a massive scale.”

This is a quote from the PhD thesis of my guest today, Dr. Joe Stife, who received his degree only a few weeks ago from Union Theological Seminary. We both belong to a discussion group that meets on Wednesdays at the most famous restaurant in the world, and for a month we discussed Joe’s work, coming to a consensus that he has written something that will make a big difference in the lives of Christians whose discipleship is all about trying to truly end poverty.

Joe uses his academic skills combined with a considerable amount of activist experience over some twenty years to shine a light on the history of not only the practices of charity, but the ways that Christians have thought about the poor and our responsibilities to them over the millennia. He then shows how these ways of looking at the poor and charity have led to the bureaucratized practices we see the government and the Church using today. He then takes a look at how we might better use our understanding of the Gospel to do more effective and humane work in this area.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

As of yet, Joe doesn’t have a publisher. It’s only been a few weeks, but it will be published and when it is, I’ll put a link on to help you buy a copy (or several).

A word about next week. The inimitable Wavy Gravy will be my guest. I’ll be releasing the program on Sunday (May 15, 2016) rather than Monday, because it’s Mr. Gravy’s eightieth birthday. If you’re not familiar with this icon of mirth, love, and powerful politics, take a look at a film about him called “Saint Misbehavin’” (Click HERE), or you can order the disk at


My apologies. There is a lot of white noise on this recording!

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