The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Out of Poverty, Into Poverty

Those of you who follow entertainment news have no doubt heard about Madonna's latest stunt of adopting a one-year-old boy from the country of Malawi, a tiny African nation a bit smaller than the state of Pennsylvania and one of the poorest countries on the planet. According to the CIA's website, the life expectancy in this country of mostly subsistence living is only 41 years. Infant mortality is high, and HIV is making its rounds as it is in many like African nations.

News accounts indicate the father of the child (mom died in childbirth) never intended to permanently give the child up for adoption and had placed him in the orphanage as a temporary measure until he could get his hut in order. Madonna struck a deal with the Malawi government to skirt its adoption laws in exchange for building a school and donating a significant sum of money; although one caveat she placed on the building of the school was that it was to teach Kabbalah. Some 80% of Malawi is Christian. No doubt Madonna's own personal crusade against the Catholic Church had some influence here.

Many casual observers would say that at least this child will have a chance at life now, but I have to wonder what kind of life that might be. He will go from destitution to opulence; from annonymity to a media darling; from a life of simplicity to a life of the material; from a poverty of earthly things to a poverty of spirit; from a life of a natural father to a life of no father. I suppose the saving grace in this situation is that he is young enough that he will likely not remember his humble beginnings.

Would it have been better for him to stay where he was? That depends how one measures things. Obviously, no child should ever starve in this world, and with Madonna, he will certainly never know hunger. That is good. It is also highly likely that his chances of coming to know Christ are far less now than if he had stayed in Malawi.

I suppose it is terribly judgmental of me, but I'm reminded of Christ's warning to those who would "lead these little ones to sin." The life Madonna will offer this child is not one of virture, but one of secular humanism. Her example to date has been one of self-absorption versus sacrifice; one of complete self-reliance versus one of faith.

I will pray for her conversion, while at that same time I will thank God for the good that might come to this child. It is quite the paradox. I am glad he will have a chance at a less painful existence as no child should suffer, especially when humanity has the means to prevent it from happening. And while I am highly suspect of the purity of Madonna's motives, perhaps in the end, through the grace of God, this child will have left both the poverty of the poor, and the poverty of the wealthy, and encounter and embrace the one true treasure of Jesus Christ. That is my prayer for him.


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