There Will Be No Poor Among You


Anointing Stories

The four Gospels all describe an incident. They differ greatly in the cast and the details, but that incident or series of similar incidents made a big impression. Matthew and Mark even say that anyone telling the Gospel will also tell this story.

It goes somewhat like this: Jesus is at dinner when a woman anoints him with expensive perfume. Some trolls say the woman is doing something wrong.

Book Location Woman Substance Value Trolls
Mt. 26 Simon the Leper (Bethany) a costly perfume on head a high price the disciples
Mark 14 Simon the Leper (Bethany) a nard perfume on head over 300 denarii some
Luke 7? Simon, a Pharisee (Nain?) a sinner perfume on feet N/A Simon
John 12 where Lazarus was (Bethany) Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus nard on feet 300 denarii Judas Iscariot

In Luke, she’s wrong in touching Jesus – or at least, He’s wrong in letting her. (I have to wonder how she got in there if she was so notorious.)

In the other three Gospels, the trolls say that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus says she’s done it for his burial OK, fine, makes sense; should have been a one-punch knockout.

However, he also says that the trolls will always have the poor with them and they can do good to them any time they want. It sounds like a complete non sequitur. What does that statement have to do with anything?

Targeted Teaching

Matthew, Mark, and John were written by/for Hebrews. Everyone in their target audience knew the Law. They knew that it says, “There will be no poor among you.” No Jew would miss the rebuke in Jesus’ words!

Those trolls are criticizing her charity when they themselves haven’t even done what justice requires? Where do they get off? Who do they think they are?

This might be what they heard:

“You posers have known for a thousand years how to prevent poverty. Now you’re all concerned? You’re saying this woman should have put a 300 denarius Band-aid on a cancer you’ve ignored for a millennium?

Well, here’s a news flash: you phonies are going to do nothing for my burial, and you’re also going to do nothing about eliminating poverty.”

What About Luke?

Why doesn’t Luke include anything like, “The poor will always be with you”? Luke was written as a history for the Greek converts. It was possible for them to be ignorant of Scripture teaching about how to treat the poor. Telling them that there would always be poverty could even have been taken as permission instead of criticism!

Note: Deuteronomy 15 says both that there need be no poor, and also that the poor will always be in the land.  However, permanent poverty was never inevitable.

Update: We reviewed this post in Sunday School today (Jan 21, 2018). The pastor pointed out that only Luke’s account includes the parable showing that those who have been forgiven much, love much. The woman’s love gift is the thread that ties all four accounts together.

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A Question of Balance

A collection of links about dizziness, falls, and balance.

website helps to reduce dizziness
Balance, gait negatively impacted after chemotherapy treatment
World’s first vertigo-stopping implant – Futurity
After a stroke, group yoga builds balance – Futurity
Poor vision may lead to loss of balance – Futurity
Hearing aids may lead to better balance – Futurity
Trial of shoe insoles to improve balance in diabetic patients
3 Ways to Prevent Injury From a Fall (Plus 2 Ways That Don’t Work as Well as You’d Think)
When we lose our balance, brain catches on fast – Futurity

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The Low Wage Page

low_wage_assistanceI got tired of discussions about low wages getting derailed by Minimum Wage talking points, so here’s a resource page on low wages in the U.S.

Updates will be added from time to time.

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Watch video at

Seeds that are hard to germinate and hard to transplant? (Carrots and many root crops). Here’s a pot that lets you germinate the seeds indoors and then set them out with minimal disturbance. The SproutSetter is a specially-designed indoor pot with removable ends and sloping sides.

  1. Germinate the seeds indoors, under ideal germinating conditions
  2. Set the SproutSetter in the trench
  3. Backfill around it with dirt
  4. Remove the ends
  5. Slide the sides out, leaving young plants undisturbed, right in place.

Assembled Sproutsetter. (Snap-together)


Filled with starting soil.


Filled Sproutsetter ready to seed. Slot at bottom provides excellent, even drainage.


Controlled conditions mean excellent germination


Straight, unhindered growth


Put SproutSetter in prepared trench, backfill, remove ends, and remove sides.


Seedlings set with minimal disruption.

straight_carrot (2)

Carrots outgrew direct-seeded, and were nicely-formed, too.

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Tall Guy Privilege


Ok, it’s not all gravy, but it’s still a lot of gravy for free.

I didn’t earn it. I didn’t cheat anybody out of it. It just happened. I ended up being 6’4″ tall.

How is that a privilege? Oh, come on — when the waitress walks past my boss in his 3 piece suit and asks jeans-and-sweater me, “How many in your party?”, it’s pretty obvious how she chose who she’d ask.

Tall guys are perceived as healthier, more mature, smarter, and more competent. We have a distinct advantage in hiring and promotion — it’s measurable. When I work hard, I get every benefit of my work — and that’s as it should be. I didn’t cheat! It should be that way for everyone, but . . . it’s not.

However, I came by my tallness late. I was late maturing, and was nearly two years younger than most of my classmates. I was only a bit over 6′ tall when I got married. Two years later, my wrists stuck two inches out of the sleeves of my wedding suit. So, I know first hand that shorter guys usually have to work harder, be luckier, be more connected to get what I got for free, just by cleaning my plate as a kid. They didn’t do anything wrong, it just came to them.

Now, if I’d always been exceptionally tall, I might have thought that was the world everybody lives in, but I know it is not. Short guys have to struggle for the status I’m accorded for free. I’ve seen it, and even experienced it — remember, I wasn’t always exceptionally tall.

I could pretty much date girls of any size I liked — people might offer amusing comments if my date were very much shorter than me, but that was about it. I’ve seen how people look and act when he’s much shorter than she is. So, effectively, I had a bigger selection than a shorter guy.

Then there is the physical world — granted, I have to get into a catcher’s crouch to see the bottom shelf in the fridge, but I can also reach the top shelf at the grocery, the top cupboards in the kitchen. My shop goes all the way to the ceiling, because I can reach there. Free!

It was all free, and I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO EARN IT. It just came to me. Some of it should come to everybody just as effortlessly, but it doesn’t. That’s what they mean by “privilege.” It’s not the right word, but it’s the word that’s being used.

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Make your decisions easier!social_theology_simplifier

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Do I Like to Argue?

Argue: from Latin arguere (“to  make clear”)

The point of argument is not to show what’s correct, far less to show who’s correct. Argument is used to make clear, to clarify the evidence and logic around a point at issue.

I like things to be clear, but that really doesn’t say that I like to argue. Argument is hard work, conducted according to techniques that have been tested for at least 2,500 years. Liking to argue is, for me, like enjoying ditch-digging (I don’t.) It’s work. Worthwhile work, when done properly, but too much effort to waste on squabbling.


Like soccer, argument is only worthy of the name when it goes by the rules. Soccer without rules is just a tedious squabble over a ball. Argument without rules is just plain tedious. Even when an opponent proves your case for you, it is tedious to watch.

So, if one side is playing soccer, and the other is just squabbling over a ball, it is just a squabble. It takes two to make an argument, but only one to turn it into a squabble by ignoring the rules.

Many times when I stop responding to Facebook posts, it is because my opponent has made such a cringe-worthy logical blunder that it is too painful to continue. Besides, leaving that blunder as the last post on a thread means that I actually have the closing argument, even though it is written by my opponent.

So, do I enjoy argument? I can appreciate a good argument, but I have no time for the usual barrage of ad hominem, straw men,  and non sequiturs that so often turn it into a mere squabble.

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