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Tom Nash

March 15, 2013  2:09am

Whether privileged or unprivileged, we all need Jesus. It's nice to know that a poor, untalented, underprivileged ruffian can become a joint heir with Christ through simple faith. Of course, this simple faith can do the same for a wealthy, talented, privileged snob. The ultimate privilege is becoming a born again adopted child of the living God. All of us fall woefully short of God's glory, yet because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross we can become God's cherished kids through faith. Sure, those who have been blessed with earthly goods are expected (by God) to give more. Our model is Jesus, who came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.

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carlene byron

February 23, 2013  4:16pm

We don't talk about privilege because our national myth is that it doesn't exist in the US -- even though a child born in this country is less likely to move up to an income quintile higher than that of their parents than a child born in much of Europe and Latin America. As Christians, we can't afford to talk about privilege because then we'd have to look hard at texts like Deuteronomy 15, where God said that he would provide in such abundance that his people could provide generously to those in need, so there would not have to be any in need -- as long as his people obeyed Him. But, God noted, there would always be those in need. So God offered both the solution and the reality in just a few verses. An obedient people of God would always be lifting up those who needed a hand; the people of God would never be obedient; as a result there would always be those God had blessed who enjoyed privilege and held it to themselves. A sad picture of God's people through all times, I'm afraid.

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Grady Walton

February 14, 2013  9:09am

My brother-in-law is an attractive man. (No, I am not coming out of the closet . . . I’m not even in the closet.) He looks more like a blonde-haired surfer than the owner of a landscaping company. But tell me, ladies, if you had to choose a landscaper to remodel your yard would you pick the gruff middle-age guy sporting a pot-belly and a bald head or the gorgeous sandy-haired dude with a disarmingly laid-back personality? I’m just saying. Anyhow, when our President uttered his infamous “you didn’t build that” campaign jab at successful Americans, it rankled a tender nerve for many. Why? Because wired into our DNA is the uniquely American legend of poor immigrants who came here to make a fortune through hard work and persistence. It is the ideal that America is a place where a person is not doomed to their status through birth. I know such stories of success are true, but in reality there is more to the magic formula of success than hard work and putting in long hours. A woman born with physical beauty has an advantage, but so does a person born with a personality type that helps them form relationships with key individuals. Some skills are developed, others are due to privilege. How should Christians treat the sensitive subject of privilege? We can reject envy and do the best we can with the cards we were dealt. We can recognize that bragging about our hard work and persistence is vanity. Being born with a privilege is one thing, but Christians should be cognizant of the difference between a God-given privilege and a man-made privilege such as nepotism and favoritism.

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Brint Keyes

February 07, 2013  9:00am

Thanks for a great article, Caryn. Esther, I think you point out a salient and important phenomenon (the arbitrariness of social values), but I don't believe it negates Caryn's analysis. The truth is, EVERY society chooses physical traits that it admires or lifts up as "superior." You write "Being created white is not a privilege. Society has awarded value to that physical attribute." But that's precisely the point. In popular US culture today (and even moreso in the past), being created white IS a privilege, because it automatically confers a greater level of power and desirability than what people of other races enjoy. Social privilege is, by definition, determined by the dominant culture. Those who happen to be born with traits that the culture (arbitratily) values are, as Caryn points out, the beneficiaries of certain blessings, though they've done nothing to merit those blessings. The Christian's responsibility in these circumstances is to acknowledge this grace.

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Esther Cow

February 01, 2013  6:32pm

Hi Caryn, I think you missed the point with Cameron Russell's Ted Talks. I feel that you fail to address a very important point that the model was making in her presentation. The privilege she experiences is because of a culture that has taken her whiteness (which one would argue is merely a biological trait etc.) and ascribed a certain value to it. This is not a God-given value but a value that we as society have placed on whiteness in terms of what is considered the standard of beauty. Why don't you directly address and unpack this socially constructed privilege? Being created white is not a privilege. Society has awarded value to that physical attribute. How can Christians address it? Secondly, Ms. Russell provides an example of using her beauty to get out of a speeding ticket. Is that good privilege or bad privilege? Is it morally right for 'beautiful' people to get a free pass? I don't think you dug deep enough.

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