I don’t know if these thoughts connect or not, but Randy McRoberts has some recent thoughts on business, church, and the Kingdom. He says, “The church gets in trouble whenever it thinks its in the church business rather than the Kingdom business.” An interesting take. He elucidates,

Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people often think about how to get people into church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.

Good thoughts here. And then I got stuck by the word “business” and wondering what happens when the business world starts to do the work of the church, you know, the “Kingdom stuff.” Far-fetched, I know…. I mean, what, is Warren Buffet suddenly going to start giving away over $38 Billion, 85% of his $44 Billion fortune, and have Bill Gates quit his role at Microsoft to focus on dispensing all that wealth through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to help fight such diseases as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. Heck, it’d take two years just to get things transitioned to a point of being able to handle all that. Not gonna happen, business is business and philanthropy is philanthropy and church is church.

Uh…. a wee update.

Turns out Bill is leaving Microsoft, gradually pulling out over a two year period in order to focus his efforts on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Didn’t say why, except that he wanted to reverse the percentages of time he was splitting between the foundation and Microsoft.

A few days later, we learn that the Gates Foundation is taking two years to scale up its operations, because it’ll have a lot more money to give away. Courtesy of Warren Buffet. Well over $30 Billion, doubling the amount that the Gates Foundation will give away to around $3Billion per year. Only six countries spent more than this on foreign aid last year… while this comes from only the two largest personal fortunes on the planet, and won’t deplete either of them.

While there’s ample satirical opportunity afforded by all of this, it does have me thinking. I’ve said that it strikes me as obscene for one person to amass that kind of wealth, and while I still want to complain about it, dispensing it to worthy causes in a massive way is noble. And after all, these dollars are going to do a lot of good. No, I’m not likely to agree with much of the decisions concerning where it goes, but with much of it going to health care in Africa, there are likely to be many more that I’m impressed with.

So what does the religious right have to say? They didn’t miss the opportunity to find something to be critical about in the whole affair, blasting the Gates Foundation for funding abortions, giving $32 Million to Planned Parenthood over some period of time that wasn’t mentioned. I don’t want this to turn into an abortion discussion at all, but Joseph D’Agostino of the Population Research Institute sounds someplace between ill-informed and petty in his criticism of Gates and Buffet.

“It’s especially scary from a population-control perspective, because birth rates have been dropping dramatically in the Third World over the last few decades and continue to go down,” D’Agostino said. “The last thing the Third World needs is more population control, because their populations are already facing dramatic aging, but they don’t have anything like the financial resources we do to take care of all these older people.”

D’Agostino said the “population time bomb” that Gates and Buffett seem to fear is a myth. But Gates’ and Buffett’s philanthropy is a “bomb” in its own right.

Yeah. We need to keep the birth rate up in the third world because the adults and so many of the children keep dieing of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis before they reach maturity. Or maybe some of these are the same people who say that AIDS is a deserved divine judgement.

See, it sounds pretty stupid to me. And I’m not even a supporter of abortion on demand.

So I think my original question had something to do with doing the work of the church. Seems that the church might be starting to have trouble recognizing what its work is. I know when Jesus said “Go and heal the sick,” his disciples understood this to refer to miraculous divine healings through prayer, and we still read it that way. I still think it means that, too. But can anybody look me in the eye and tell me it specifically excludes supporting AIDS research and giving money to basic healthcare efforts in Africa?

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