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Quick to Listen/Episode 91 | 54 min

Proximity to Poverty’s ‘Destructive Culture’

Jesus said the poor will always be with you. But did he mean in your neighborhood?
Proximity to Poverty’s ‘Destructive Culture’
Image: Denis Tangney Jr / Getty Images

Writer Rod Dreher’s recent comments on poverty and immigration have sparked intense criticism by Christians and non-Christians alike. In a recent post, Dreher wrote about his conflicted feelings on Trump’s derogatory remarks about African countries by drawing a comparison to immigrants from these countries and public housing:

Let’s think about Section 8 housing. If word got out that the government was planning to build a housing project for the poor in your neighborhood, how would you feel about it? Be honest with yourself. Nobody would consider this good news. You wouldn’t consider it good news because you don’t want the destructive culture of the poor imported into your neighborhood. Drive over to the poor part of town, and see what a s---hole it is. Do you want the people who turned their neighborhood a s---hole to bring the s---hole to your street?

No, you don’t. Be honest, you don’t.

Russell Jeung has lived with his family for more than two decades in one of Oakland, California’s most dangerous neighborhoods. While Jeung loves his community, living in the Murder Dubs hasn’t always been easy. When he was a graduate student, his laptop was stolen. He’s also witnessed shootings and knows sex traffickers work out of his neighborhood.

“Do we want the poor’s ‘destructive culture’? No, of course not. The poor don’t want the destructive culture in their own communities,” said Jeung, who is also the chair of Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University. “Nobody wants murder, violence, or theft. … All God’s children long for his wholeness, long for life to be lived under his rule and to have that peace and justice.”

Jeung joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss our tendency to overly romanticize or stigmatize the poor, the best and worst times of life in Murder Dubs, and how Christians should decide where they live.

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Proximity to Poverty’s ‘Destructive Culture’