(Reblog) Review of Lupton’s Toxic Charity

Review of Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton

Ryan P. Cumming of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has written a top-notch critical review of this book that has recently been making waves in the non-profit sector of our community. The book is quite popular and those who love it accept its conclusions as gospel truth. Cummings does an excellent job in his short review of pointing out the book’s finer points while also not glossing over its major flaws.

Most other reviewers speak admiringly of the author and his statements. The few negative reviews tend to emphasize the reviewer’s pet issues (i.e. social justice, evangelism, etc.) while ignoring the substance of the book itself. This is the first critical review I’ve seen that treats the substance of the book fairly:

I won’t dignify his words with the verb “argues” because Lupton doesn’t argue his points; he simply states them.  I would be concerned that statements like this, when coupled with his criticisms of charity, would motivate more people to avoid service work in the first place than to engage in the community development he suggests…

…The difficulty here is not his rejection or support of foreign aid or welfare.  There are arguments to be made on both sides of the debate.  The problem is that the only apparent research Lupton draws on is Dambisa Moyo’s controversial 2009 book Dead Aid.  Outside of this, Lupton appears to draw on his own experience, which I admit is extensive, but this does not make for a well-defended argument.   And this is vitally necessary when making statements about both the poor and government’s relationship to them that are far from self-evident.

Click here to read Cumming’s full review at elca.org

Charity vs. Justice

Thanks to Brooke Newell (Central New York PPG Advocacy Ministries Coordinator) for this image.

It reminds me of another story about the difference between charity and justice:

Two friends are sitting by a river one day when they notice an abandoned baby floating downstream.  They immediately jump in to rescue the child.  Before they get back to shore, they notice another baby, and then another, and another.  Soon, the babies are floating by so fast that the two friends can’t possibly save them all.

Suddenly, one of them climbs onto the bank and starts running away.

“Hey,” the friend in the water says, “where do you think you’re going?!  You’ve got to come back here and help me!”

“I’m going upstream,” the friend on shore says, “to find out who is throwing babies in the river!”

Charity and justice…