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“So I heard that the new Secretary of something or other said that poverty was a state of mind,” said Myrtis Ingomar. “I guess that means if I change my thinking I can be rich.”

“Yeah, just think Harvard and you’ll get all the degrees you want,” said Maxwell McHemingway. “I just tell my creditors that they’re thinking wrong and that I’ve already paid them with good thoughts.”

The community table at the coffee club held a copy of the Gazette-News Leader from the day before while the group talked about news coverage on television and the web. I brought a basket of choereg to the table so I could listen to the conversation. Myrtis took a piece of choereg and began to pull apart the braids.

“I agree with the Secretary,” said Rev. Gunion Paisley. “It’s a state of mind, but not the way he thinks about it.”

“Sure, Rev. What are you thinking?” said Tom Gonzalez-Rink.

“I think the state of mind that is impoverished rests in those people who have an abundance of material possessions—“ started the Rev.

“Oh man, do we have to hear a sermon on a Thursday morning? I could go home and watch reruns of Gunsmoke,” said Pete Ohanyan. He remained at the table.

“Hey, I want to hear what the Rev says. Go on. Try not to preach, Rev,” said Tom.

“Thank you. When people fear that the resources of the world are scarce and not enough to go around, then they begin to identify wealth and poverty. They have an abundance of material possessions, but because of their fear, they don’t believe they have enough. That poverty mindset among the affluent leads to the cycle of greed, something we see among our members of Congress.”

“Rev, is this some kind of Marxist thinking on your part?” asked Tom.

“No, I think this is biblical. I believe that God created a world in which there is enough, but we’ve botched up things with the ways of production and distribution. And I think we can go back to an understanding of original sin, and here’s where I agree with William Faulkner, that great writer, who believed that the urge to possess land, to claim to own it, was the original sin, that all else—especially broken relationships–came from that urge to possess.”

Before Maxwell and Pete began to speak, the Rev held up his hand to signal a stop and then he continued, “So yes, I agree that poverty is a state of mind, but the Secretary is thinking of the wrong people. He has the wrong angle and is looking outward instead of within. He and his cronies need to look within themselves to see how they’ve become prey to fear. That’s the real poverty. Now I leave you with my thoughts because I need to work on Sunday’s sermon. I’ll be back tomorrow to hear what you have to say.”

And with that the Rev. Gunion Paisley left for the day.

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