Monday, December 15, 2014

"Teach a man to fish, whatever!" An update on the Gospel according to Walker

Can the governor actually cite "teach a man to fish moments" in the Bible?

About a month ago I wrote an article noting that Gov. Scott Walker, himself a PK (pastor’s kid), didn’t understand the difference between a Chinese proverb and Biblical text.

Walker had said, “My reading of the Bible finds plenty of reminders that it’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them fish if they’re able.”

I correctly pointed out that the “teach a man to fish” lesson was never mentioned in the Bible -- and that handing out fish like “freebies” was something Jesus Christ himself had done during the miracle of the loaves and fish.

That post received renewed popularity following the “Molotov” Hanukkah mishap that Walker was recently ridiculed for. Over at Cognitive Dissidence, Capper took note of the gaffe, in conjunction with new reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice on the subject:
"The governor specifically says it’s in his reading of the Bible," said Laurel Patrick, press secretary for Walker. "He’s not quoting scripture."
Well, doesn't that clear nothing up? He's citing the Bible but not the Bible? Huh?
I agree completely -- Walker is trying to be a biblical scholar, and to tie his “teachings” to his governing style, but he’s failing hard at it. He wants to make that “teach a man to fish” point, saying there are several examples of it in the Bible, without actually citing those parts of the Bible.

Meanwhile, the Bible is inundated with so many examples of charity, good works, commitment towards helping others (and so forth) that the “teach a man to fish” comment from Walker seems rather silly.

Deuteronomy 15:11 -- “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

Luke 3:10-11 -- “And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’”

Romans 15:1 -- “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”

Philippians 2:4 -- “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

And that’s just a handful I found from one site on the internet.

So I have one question to ask Gov. Scott Walker -- given all of these examples of helping others that we see in the Bible, where exactly are your “teach a man to fish” interpretations found?

Like Gov. Walker, I’m not a biblical scholar. Maybe there are such examples present in the Good Book. I’m also not one to pretend that Jesus directly said “the government should help people.” Such wording is not easy to find.

At the time when Jesus lived, however, the government was an oppressor, an undemocratic empire controlling the land that He lived in. It wasn’t doing much to help people in the Holy Land to begin with. It’s not too crazy to say, then, in a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” that democratically approved plans to help the poor are consistent with biblical teachings.

Not that we should enforce laws from the Bible either -- in a pluralistic society such as ours, we need to respect the religious preferences of everyone. But justifying the denial of care for those in need through biblical interpretations is a huge error in judgment; yet that’s exactly what the governor is trying to argue.

Walker is, and remains, wrong on this issue. Which, again, is greatly disturbing given his supposed PK credentials.

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