Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jesus' Rebuke for Susan Feinberg Who Imitates His Disciples

I realize that this story is a week old, but I could not let it pass without a comment. Last week Talking Points Memo published the story, "Rep. Ryan Tastes The Grapes of Wrath." By now you have likely heard about the episode. Paul Ryan was at the Capitol Hill Bistro Bis with two conservative economists. One of his fellow diners ordered a bottle of wine. Nearby sat Susan Feinberg, an associate business professor at Rutgers, celebrating her birthday with her husband. From where she sat Feinberg noticed that the bottle on the Ryan table was Echezeaux Grand Cru, which she promptly determined from the wine list cost $350.00. When a second bottle of the expensive wine arrived at the Ryan table Feinberg quickly computed that the $700 for wine served to the three men is more than a couple working for minimum wage earns per week. Keep in mind that Susan Feinberg and her husband reportedly shared a bottle of wine at $80.00.

So, outraged at the amount of money the three men were putting out for wine, Freinberg took a few pictures with her cell phone to document the extravagance. Then, after she and her husband completed their meal, Susan Feinberg tottered over to Paul Ryan's table to ask him "how he could live with himself" sipping expensive wine while advocating for cuts to programs for seniors and the poor (which, of course, he is not actually doing, if Feinberg would inform herself).

The episode reminds me of some first century friends of Susan Feinberg who complained about the waste when the unnamed woman anointed Jesus with an expensive alabaster jar of perfume. Yes, Jesus' own disciples became indignant, just like Susan Feinberg and said, "Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor" (Mark 14:4-5). Jesus, so very unlike the Jesus modern Liberals (read Leftists) preach, does not affirm his disciples' policy of being liberal with other people's wealth, goods, or money. Instead, he rebukes his own disciples, saying, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them." Of course, Paul Ryan isn't Jesus. Nevertheless, the very nature of Jesus' rebuke--"For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them"--applies to all of us, and in the case being address, it specifically applies to Susan Feinberg.

In addition to everything else that Jesus is teaching about himself in Mark 14:1-11, in his rebuke of the disciples he is plainly teaching at least four corollaries.
  • First, what other people do with their goods, their money, and their wealth is absolutely none of our business. What belongs to them does not belong to others. They are accountable for however they use what belongs to them. In other words, Jesus is giving clear instruction concerning personal rights with regard to their own possessions. Others, keep your hands off and keep your judgments to yourself. 
  • Second, Jesus points out how easy it is for people to be generous (liberal) with other people's wealth, goods, or money. In other words, Jesus condemns the policy that governs modern Leftists whose liberalism amounts to little more than being extremely liberal with other people's wealth, goods, and money.
  • Third, Jesus makes it explicitly clear that poverty, like it or not, ordinarily and regularly exists in human societies--"You always have the poor with you."
  • Fourth, hence, Jesus condemns those who, when they see what they regard to be the squandering of wealth that belongs to another, exploit the poor as Jesus' disciples did to publish how compassionate, loving, and caring for the poor they are. In other words, how do those who pretentiously exploit the poor in this manner to preen themselves in an outward show of their virtue and generosity (only with other people's wealth) but actually do nothing at all to assist the poor to rise out of their poverty, differ from those who possess wealth but disdain the poor as Ebenezer Scrooge does in Charles Dickens' story? They both regard charity to belong to the impersonal collective "others," not the individual, themselves. Jesus condemns them both.
For other commentaries on Susan Feinberg's imitation of the liberalism of Jesus' disciples, see

Updated 07/18/2011: Two additional corrolaries added.

1 comment:

Pumice said...

Well said. I have been reading a book called "New Deal or Raw Deal" which looks into FDR and his leadership. The parallels between him and our current leadership is scary. Both seemed to be "do as I say, not as I do" types.

Grace and Peace.