3

Class and the Politics of Living Simply

At church we were taught to identify with the poor. This was the spoken narrative of class that dominated my growing-up years. The poor were chosen and closer to the heart of the divine because their lives embodied the wisdom of living simply. By the time I was in junior high school, I was reading to my church congregation during the morning offering, choosing scriptures from the biblical Book of Matthew, which admonished believers to recognize our oneness with the poor and all who are lacking the means for material well-being. I read from the twenty-fifth book of Matthew passages describing a day when we stand before the divine and all the angels seated with him in heavenly glory.

On that day of reckoning, scriptures shared, “all the nations will be gathered before him.” In the presence of witnesses, joined in common community, those who had identified with and cared for the poor and needy would be chosen to dwell among the godly. Those who were not chosen were to be told: “Depart from me, you who are

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