Hear this you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
5 saying, ‘When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practise deceit with false balances,
6 buying the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’ Amos 8:4-6
I have been asked to return a graciously loaned book, so I better blog about it while it is still in my possession. I've only had it for six or seven months, so I don't understand the hurry!
It is by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco with the title Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. Sacco, the godfather of graphic artists, illustrates this feisty volume which decries the indifference in America to the plight of the underclass. The blurb on the back of the book refers to the expanded biblical concept of the neighbour and the failure to recognize the neighbour as anything or anyone other than a person to be exploited in their vulnerability.
The authors address the circumstances in West Virginia where entire mountains are being destroyed for coal, while the folk who live around them are being evicted from their traditional homes, literally bulldozed into compliance. They feature old-timers who refuse to go, although in some cases properties are now bizarre islands in the midst of a devastated landscape.
This relentless appetite for coal obviously also affects community life, including the congregations of the various villages and towns which are being de-populated. The churches are trying to speak out and to help those who are left destitute, but it is a losing enterprise.
Hedges and Sacco contend that the coal companies essentially write the laws because of their power, and even then regularly violate them. While this may seem like an extreme contention just recently hundreds of thousands of West Virginians had their drinking water polluted by a mining spill which was not immediately reported. It has since been discovered that other spills have occurred without supposedly obligatory reporting to authorities.
While this is a rather bleak book, filled with outrage, I'm grateful that someone cares. The biblical prophets often reminded God's people that they weren't going to like what they were about to hear, and they didn't!
Would I recommend the book? Yes, even though it certainly isn't cheerful.