I enjoyed Nickel and Dimed, a popular book that’s now a few years old. In it, a writer takes on some relatively low-paying jobs ($6 to $7 bucks an hour) to experience first-hand the issues around a ‘living wage’. It was a good read, if a bit anticlimactic: the fact that she only worked the three jobs (waitstaff, housecleaner, Wal-Mart worker) for 30 days each meant that the relational, physical, financial, and psychic stresses never really came to fruition. But it shines some helpful light on the issue.
The author calls herself an atheist, but on one Saturday night when she is broke and bored, she drops in on an old-fashioned tent revival at a local church full of people who are living in the reality of her self-imposed experiment.
The preaching goes on, interrupted with dutiful “amens.” It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth. I would like to stay around for the speaking in tongues, should it occur, but the mosquitoes, worked into a frenzy by all this talk of His blood, are launching a full-scaled attack. I get up to leave, timing my exit for when the preacher’s metronomic head movements have him looking the other way, and walk out to search for my car, half expecting to find Jesus out there in the dark, gagged and tethered to a tent pole.