Later, I learned that Yale gave a prize to the undergraduate who had the best book collection. I spent three years putting together a collection of inexpensive paperbacks that in my view reflected excellent taste. The contest judges came to inspect. They trooped to my room, took a 2-second look at the paperbacks, and walked out chuckling. The prize committee chairman told me I'd be better off trading the thousand paperbacks for several prime (and expensive) first editions.
Yes, I know class hatred.
A year after graduation, hatred led me into the Communist Party USA. Envy led me to advocate murderous revolution of the kind that ravaged Russia, China, Cuba, Cambodia, and other countries. Envy leads to class warfare. Class warfare kills. It might kill this country.
I've written in WORLD (worldmag.com/store) about how God graciously pulled me out of communism. When I became a Christian in 1976, many of my sinful tendencies remained. It's been a 35-year struggle to corral them. But one instantly disappeared: class envy. Strange but true. My pre-Christian life did not include a day without envy of the rich. My Christian life has not included a day with it.
Would that I could say that about my other sins! But my life has been better without class envy.
I'm not saying we should ignore the way our concentration of power in Washington allows some to combine political and economic clout. Nor should we ignore how failing public schools leave many children uneducated: That's our nation's prime structural problem.
I am saying that the life of this country would improve if we paid less attention to what the rich have, more to the sin in our own lives, and more to the productive ways of helping the poor that WORLD has covered over the past 25 years. America, America, God shed His grace on thee.
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