I’ve got nothing against letter-writing campaigns, and I don’t know anything about Bread for the World’s David Beckmann. However, I do think it’s worth questioning the premise of the following paragraph:
Beckmann believes real change comes through politics, not soup kitchens, which is why Bread for the World encourages its member churches to launch letter-writing campaigns on such unglamorous issues as tax credits for the working poor. Moses, he points out, was not sent by God to pick up a few cans and warm blankets at Pharaoh’s court. He was sent to change the world.
The question that author Lisa Miller begs is, “What counts as real change?” As James Hunter points out (post here and others), most of us– including those of us who profess that God’s rule is ultimate– readily go along with the popular notion that “real change” is the province of politics. In the spirit of confession, I’ve been one of those people.
That unspoken assumption needs aired; it doesn’t withstand examination. Politics, in fact, might be the very last place to look, in order to find “real change.”
Lisa Miller gives us a false choice: that churches must choose between acts of compassion (which, in her reading, are well-intentioned but naive), and acts of lobbying (which, in her reading, are savvy and worldly-wise). Both can be good and helpful things to do, and both can effect some kinds of change. But real change?
Moses wasn’t changing the world– God was. Real change , while inevitably involving human actors, will be deeper and broader than any end we might imagine.