Middle Class Poor

Frowning Providence is a post on what it is like to not be able to participate in church because of financial issues. Even more than that it is about the inability of the church to accept a discussion of the reason they cannot participate.

We don’t want to hear that you are doing badly, basically. Reminds me of Deb and how she feels folks don’t want to know you are sick, especially when you are often/always sick.

Just a bit:

In middle-class Christian America the Joneses absolutely demand that you keep up with them because otherwise they feel guilty. I found you only have so many “I-am-sorry-I-cannot-participate”-cards before people start getting frustrated with you. The result is that if you cannot afford basic middle-class requirements such as paying $20.00 a pop for church dinners or even gas for driving to such an event or lunch at the park because you are making do with what’s in the cupboard and that is cereal, your only real option is to disappear from society. Most people do not understand being absolutely penniless for several days a week or month, penniless after enacting the most severe austerity measures and money-saving techniques.

You do have the option of honesty but that is even worse than just letting people get frustrated with you for being unfriendly. If you mention that you can’t afford something it makes people uncomfortable. They immediately feel that you are complaining or begging. As a matter of fact, I found the honest route to be totally unworkable in every single instance I used it, except one.* Frequently church events carry the caveat that anyone who cannot afford to pay is still welcome but I have never had the confidence to take a church up on that one. Who can’t afford $20.00 ever?

The comments are interesting as well.

Right now, though, I think we are in the other end of the spectrum. And it’s why I asked R to quit saying I was eating out with him. I got tired of people saying how we eat out all the time. (We do.) It’s just not your business. But if it’s on facebook, which it is, then it seems to be.