On page 12 of your book I Was Hungry you state: "There is no inherent virtue in poverty and certainly none in asceticism" citing Proverbs 30:7-9 and 31 as proof scriptures. Given the example set by Jesus personally my question would have to be: Why do you think God chose to live a life of extreme poverty -- especially given Ecclesiastes 7:18b? --  Simon Oxton (London)

I am not sure I can agree that the Lord lived in extreme poverty. He was born into a working class family, though he became a tradesman, presumably learning everything from his stepfather Joseph. I think the main point is that Jesus chose to live simply, not to be encumbered with possessions. In view of his ministry and its inevitable brevity, he also chose not to marry and was more than willing to remain on the move. ("The Son of Man has no place to lay his head"!)

Perhaps our Lord chose the simple life because he wanted to connect with as many people as possible. Perhaps it was because it would have been "too easy" for him to be born into a rich family. But I cannot agree that he was ascetic. We see him enjoying weddings, drinking wine, and attending dinner parties. He did not condemn Mary when she "wasted" the precious nard on him, but rather commended her.

Note: The book Simon is referring to, which addressed materialism and the Christian imperative to help the poor, was written in 1987 and is currently out of print.

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