Joanne Donovan

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God and capitalism; why is there a love affair between christianity and greed?

Many people believe that the bible endorses free market capitalism. Ever since Marx considered that 'a spectre hung over Europe' the relationship between christianity and egalitarian politics has been rocky at best. I would like to discuss why the two ideas are so often mutually exclusive, expecially when the saying 'the meek shall inherit the earth' and "Blessed are you the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." are two quotes from the bible.

  • Nov 13 2011: Good question. I suppose if we are looking at culturally entrenched greed as the real problem we should realize that a culture is just a collection of individuals. Every person in the world is inclined to look out for his or her own self interest. So in a way we are asking "How can we make people less greedy?" And if we had an answer for that, like a magic pill, we would fix the world in a day. But, if we refocus on the American Christian population specifically, or maybe ask, how can we increase rational dialogue to avoid radical ideology, I think the solution lies within the Church. We need pastors who will remind the public that Jesus came to "heal the sick, give sight to the blind, release the captives and preach the good news to the poor." I honestly don't think that greed is something we can address through public policy, it has to be interpersonal.
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      Nov 13 2011: It is a conundrum. If I were in your shoes (I am assuming you follow the christian faith? Apologies if I have misunderstood) I would be quite disheartened at the turn things are taking along the fundamentalist line. It almost seems, from the outside looking in, a separate religion. I guess that would not be a first in the history of christianity, however in todays climate I feel 'dominionism' as it is sometimes referred to is a potentially highly destructive movement. Would you agree with that or disagree?
      • Nov 14 2011: I am a Christian yes, and it is disheartening. I hadn't heard of the term dominionism until now. While quite a few fundamentalist conservatives probably would agree with a lot of the main tenets such as America being founded on Christian ideals (debatable) and the law of the land reflecting the values of the Christian majority, I hope I'm right in saying the majority of Christians would reject what would amount to an outright theocracy. So in answer to your question I think that if dominionism was really a powerful drive it would be very destructive, but I don't really see it as an imminent threat.
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          Nov 14 2011: Hi Colleen, I tend to agree that if ' that if dominionism was really a powerful drive it would be very destructive,' I do, however see it as a threat, imminent or no. I think all forms of fundamentalism are a challenge to peace and to equality, but I think this particular movement, linked as it is to market forces is especially dangerous.

          Lets hope you are right, and I am wrong on this one.
        • Nov 14 2011: Colleen
          Thanks for your comments. It is not that the particular style of dominionism is that powerful, but what it represents on the larger scene. It reflects attempts by the religious right to hold onto a dying success based ethic. What it does of course, since 98% of the members will never be wealthy is cause a wedding of ideologies on the far right, political, social, and religious. That is what scares me. What if people who really do not care about others, actually dominated our life?
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          Jah Sun

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          Nov 16 2011: Most Christians are not actually practicing Christianity at all.

          Whatever it is they are into, is certainly not the teaching of Yeshua ben Yoseph... rabbi from Nazareth.
      • Nov 14 2011: Joanne
        Yes as I have pointed out before those kinds of churches are very bad. Their ideology, their theology and their practice just doesn't square up.
        • Nov 14 2011: Good points Joanne and Michael. It's sad because I think if we really asked an individual conservative from this group (say a Tea Partier) about their personal feelings for the less-fortunate only a few would say they deserve to be poor and most likely that individual is a member of a church with some outreach, or they give to charity, or something along those lines because the majority really do care about others. Unfortunately all of this charity goes out the window when it comes to politics because these people are the most afraid of change, outsiders, differing beliefs, real diversity, etc. It's not so much a character flaw as it is, I believe, a lack of exposure to very many people who aren't just like themselves. Fortunately this kind of ideology hasn't been able to produce a viable presidential candidate since George W and the Republican candidates this year seem to be more moderate... but I agree, the unification of so many different motives behind one right-wing agenda is a scary thing to behold because it leaves so little room for compromise.
      • Nov 16 2011: Colleen
        You are correct in saying it is scary. I do believe these differing ideologies feed off one another and thus the involvement of right-wing fundamentalists with certain political agendas they treat as though they were Biblical doctrines.

        The sum total of this is however that real people are left hurting, that policies are made that negate social justice issues, and all of it is wrapped in one neat package.
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          Nov 16 2011: Very true Colleen, I have been struck by that too. How much common ground we do actually have on the important issues. This is why I have posed this question and others, in an effort to uncover and undermine the real enemy. The forces of greed.
  • Nov 6 2011: I grew up in a Catholic family. Ater growing up in that environment, after attending mass and reading the old and new testament, I think the true goal of christianity is the total generousity of spirit, mind, and wealth. It is the pursuit of a reality that brings one as close to God as possible. Christianity the way most people practice it is about dogmatic control of ones mind body, spirit, and soul. I believe our christianity has been corrupted by this capitalistic system we live in. Money in this world has evolved so it is the energy that drives all human endeavor--much like the energy of the sun drives all life on this planet. It works well when it's in balance--regulated by the laws of nature. In capitalisti societies, the pursuit of money over all else is little more than people copying the order of nature. In capitalism, those who are the most well adapted to that environment survive. Just like in nature, capitalism is a nasty, cut throat buisness where people "eat" or are "eaten" in relation to their ability to make money. But unlike nature, we capitalists are taking the natural regulators out of our system. If we are to have no rgovernment regulation of capitalism, we should have let man-made nature take its course and let the banks fail, along with everythng else that led to that failure. But we didn't.do that. It drives me crazy when people ascribe god to this man made environment we have around us that naturally sellects as survivors those who make more money by any means neccesary. All these people who say god wants us to be rich are just rationalizing their religion so it conforms to the realtiy of the vicious capitalism in which we crawl over each other in order to survive, condemning those who who end up on the low end of the money pyramid to poverty and all the ills that go along with that. Where's the human dignity and higher states of being in that scenerio? We need a new system that selects for the best behavior of our human natures.
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      Nov 6 2011: I really enjoyed reading about your experience, and I share your point of view. I disagree with you only on one point; that Capitalism follows a natural law. I believe it is with ideas like this that capitalists have appropriated christianity. The idea that only the fittest survive in nature therefore free market principle is a natural (therefore again, if you believe in god, divine) law. In nature and in Darwinian evolution there is no 'will' therefore the outcome is a random event, a result of a highly complex context. (see Dawkins 'The Blind Watchmaker') In contrast, capitalism, due to the human will component, strives toward increasingly monopolistic structures in order to exploit. Natural evolution is an albeit complex, though nevertheless, random set of events. Capitalism, on the other hand, is planned and structured.

      Many thinkers, Jared Diamond, Ronald Wright, for example, discuss the idea that extreme monopolistic structures often appear prior to social collapse as has been evidenced by so many cultures which have preceded us across our planet. My point is that unless we wish to share the same fate, we must, as you so rightly say Teresa, evolve into a society that is centred on cooperation with each other and the vital natural balances which make organic life here even possible.

      I think in order to hope for this, many of us must make a paradigm shift, and give up getting drunk on illusory 'wealth' and materialism. I think many people today are beginning that process and this is perhaps why we are even having this discussion. My only hope is it is not too late.
  • Nov 4 2011: Joanne
    Actually some forms of right-wing Christianity do support a sort of blind faith in capitalism per se. However, you need to understand there are millions of Christians, including myself, who do not see that.

    In Luke 4 for example Jesus outlines his idea of his own work and claims liberty for the captives, (most prisoners were the poor), sight for the blind, and "the acceptable day of the Lord" which was a return to the Jubilee year of debt forgiveness, return of the land to the seller and release of slaves. There was a strong economic and political agenda.

    I do not think they are mutually exclusive at all. There are strong Christians in the US and other places that support exactly the kind of agenda Jesus outlined.

    Yes to all who may wonder, there are Christians who promote capitalism, who are perfectly happy with "taking from the earth" and dominating it and even some describing a sort of Christianity where belief=money in the bank. I do not agree with them or believe they "get" the message of Luke 4.

    Trust me on this, I am open to dialogue on the subject.
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      Nov 4 2011: This really does encapsulate a side of Christianity that has taken a beating in the last few decades. Democrats used to be in sinc with a softer side of Christianity until the polarizing abortion issue.

      In fact, there are far more references to helping the poor in the bible than there are references to evangelism even. I have often wondered just how capitalism highjacked that faith.
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        Nov 4 2011: Me too Debra. It seems to me that as the capitalist movement has gained traction over the eighties and nineties, it has used religion as a kind of trogan horse to enter the hearts and minds of people. Religion is being used as a tool to sustain ideas that help to defeat 'the moral hazard' in people who might otherwise, follow the socialist teachings of the bible. Actually Micah decribes one such concept in her post; 'Jesus's larger philosophy of self worth, self actualization, and separation from the tyranny of government'. I think this movement has lead to certain free market ideas being enshrined in divine law for many people. The idea that god created capitalism, the idea that the free market is a natural or divine law. These ideas are dangerously fascistic and because the safety of the soul is involved, are not open for discussion.
        • Nov 7 2011: Joanne
          Some people in the extreme right wing of things have used a sort of "trojan horse" tactic. More than that much of this discussion goes back to the bogey man communism/capitalism battle of the 50's and 60's. Communism (of any sort really, badly understood, much maligned) was the enemy. Churches just mimicked that. However above you mention a newer phenomenon of the "prosperity churches" that have become increasingly popular with some. "God wants you rich" is the major theme. But in many ways this was no different from some Jews in the New Testament. That is why it was such a scandal for Jesus to heal lepers, touch women or be touched by them, actually associate with the poor. If you were poor, sick, broken, it was because you were a sinner. Jesus turned that on its head. The prosperity churches have taken the idea that since God is all wealthy (the cattle on a thousand hills symbol) that Christians should be wealthy too. That has then produced the strange marriage of capitalism and Christianity. It really isn't new however, as the idea was also popular during the Gilded Age (1885-1910) in the US. There was a lot of "theological discourse, making Carnegie, Rockefeller and Gould "godly men."

          For me, capitalism and some extreme right wingers both political and religious, use each other. It is not all of Christianity, but a certain few right wing groups that do this. People want to hate the enemy, whoever that is, and want to be successful. Of course the vast majority will never ever be because of the very system they espouse. It will make sure of that. The sad thing is that so many people who need real help the true poor and broken never get the help they need.
      • Nov 4 2011: Debra and Joanne
        People often (always actually) read Scripture through their world view. Some would trace these capitalistic ideas back to Calvin. That might be a place to start but probably not the best. Max Weber wrote a book called The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism where he tried to trace it back to Calvin and the work ethic of the chosen.

        However, it seems to me, that the kinds of things Joanne has mentioned really come to the fore in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. The problem is of course anytime Scripture is read through a distorted lens, it is the interpretation, not the Scripture itself that is distorted.

        Authors like Andre Trocme, Ron Sider, and John Howard Yoder have described clearly, and many Christians from different traditions, do understand the importance of seeking after real justice. "Putting things to right" is how N.T. Wright says it and I believe that is what Christianity is to do, not support some sort of capitalistic enterprise.
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          Nov 12 2011: Hi Michael, I had a look at 'The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism'. It does give some insight as to parts of the core culture of American world view. It doesn't explain the rise of greed, which to me is a bit of a mystery, given the egalitarian nature of the American constitution, and some of the great early American reformers.
      • Nov 14 2011: Joanne
        Yes you are right. It doesn't explain that aspect of how some evangelical groups went the far-right, god wants you rich way.

        But it isn't the legal system that gives rise to these ideas Joanne. The legal system exists to supposedly give a level playing field. Greed is in people. I think people then start to calculate how to justify their greed by the Bible.

        I think the other thing that happened, especially in the US after 1960, was that people decided that "pie in the sky" wasn't really helping their spreadsheet. The success ethic has clouded many people. It is an ethic that says success is the measure of worth and value in the world. Add to that, a false idea of "wealthy" christians and it makes for a bad stew.

        The worldview issue is larger but important. I believe it has to do with a reinterpretation of the old ideas of : God blessing America, the free individual, and the Kingdom of God being re-interpreted as riches now. Unfortunately some of those false ideas come through politically too in people and thus the fusion of right wing politics and religion. All they are doing is trying to re-interpret those core beliefs and hold onto the old US paradigm.
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          Nov 15 2011: Although your ideas line up so often with my own, I may not agree with you fully here. Are we lazy, fearful and acquisitve by nature? Perhaps. Certainly if you look at the last six thousand years of history you could be forgiven for thinking so. Yet humans have been around for much longer than that. I believe it largely social circumstance that generates the things that drive us.

          For example my islands, the three that make up New Zealand, where once laden with birds. Great flightless birds, Moa's, roamed and provided the indigenous Maori with a protein source that did not require much work to hunt down. The archaeological record reveals massive processing camps containing huge amounts of moa remains. Population soared. When the Moa went extinct, these were abandoned and coastal settlements sprang up instead. Molluscs shells and seal bones on the rubbish heaps showed that people had been forced to make a dietry change too. Around this time, settlements began to be fortified whereas previously they had not been. There is evidence of warfare and of cannbibalism beginning from the time the Moa disappeared. While the Moa provided a readily available food source, population boomed. When it died out, a warrior cult began to emerge, fortifications, population decline and warfare.

          Culture, human nature can seem innate, but I do not think it is. I think it is mostly a construct of complex social and enviromental influences. This is why I think it is so important that we think carefully about the kind of world we have created and if it is how it should be, or should we make some changes?
      • Nov 15 2011: Joanne
        I agree with what you are saying. In my comment to Salim above I said greed is like growing bacteria in a petri dish. Given the right conditions, it produces something evil. Yes, our complex societies are producing all sorts of things. We are undergoing a paradigm shift I think of epic proportions. Western culture is trying to sustain itself on old rationalist models and it is falling apart. You cannot wish your way to riches as some of the dominion people would like, but it is our culture that produces them.

        When the environment is in flux, all sorts of explorations, new ideas, old rehashed ideas, and totally new stuff starts to grow. For me, as a Christian, it is time we started talking about a society where things are put to right. It would be a society where "justice rolls on like a river." We can be a witness to that justice and yes, work to change our society.
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          Nov 15 2011: I am maxed out on thumbs up Michael but this was a really great comment.
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          Nov 15 2011: Wonderful words Michael. Thank you.
      • Nov 15 2011: Thank you Debra.
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      Nov 4 2011: I too Michael have many wonderful christian friends who are socialist and wish to protect the planet too. Yet many claim socialism to be the enemy of their religion. This seems to me an anathema.
      • Nov 4 2011: Joanne
        The key here is not just capitalist/socialist, but by being a Christian do you seek justice here and now. Either form of economy/politics can do it, few actually do it.
      • Nov 12 2011: Joanne, I think that partially the reason that paradox exists is because of the negative associations many Christians make with socialism, in their minds socialism brings up ideas of state atheism, Marxist materialism, communist China, etc. Less often thought of is equally distributed health care, education, and the like. "Being an American" is supposed to be all about freedom, and people see socialism as a restriction on that freedom.
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          Nov 12 2011: Hi Colleen!
          I find you post so very interesting! As a Canadian, I correlate Christianity WITH healthcare especially since it was our Christian leaders like one who became a political leader named Tommy Douglas, who led us into caring for our fellow man through universal healthcare. In fact, he is considered the greatest Canadian ever for it.

          I am convinced that the propaganda of the US system like what happened during the McCarthy era has turned the good and kind American people into a bunch of phobics when it comes to anything that approaches communism. Why is it so easy to relinquish our humanity in the face of words like 'socialism' or 'communism'. The only answer that I can arrive at is that the American mind and conscience has been highjacked by greedy people in posiitions of societal power- like politicians, bureaucrats, corporations and sometimes clergy.

          Let's face it , in your civil war hundreds of thousands of people died on both sides but more than 100,000 people died in battle on the side of the south - to defend what? The answer is to defend and economic system based on the enslavement and degradation of human beings. Mothers actually allowed their sons to go to war to defend what amounts to greed.

          Please do not get me wrong, I love the American people and have deep compassion for the people who have been ensnared and duped into believing that their highest instincts to care for one another are wrong because they might approach a couple of words that have been distorted for the good of the greedy.
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          Nov 12 2011: Thank you Colleen, I was hoping someone would draw attention to this. I don't know, if like me, you also think this has been a deliberate appropriation on behalf of groups seeking economic power over the average egalitarian-minded American citizen?


          I agree with what Debra says, but would like to add to it that today, the franchise extends beyond the U.S. and tries to go global. The Destiny Church, for example, has sprung up where I live. It espouses god and right economics. targeting one of our most traditionally left voting groups, the indigenous Maori. This year 'Bishop' Brian Tamaki's wife tried to fix the election that would have placed her at the head of the Maori Woman's League. If she had achieved that, she would have been in an extremely powerful position to access funding, to lobby ministers and to win the hearts and minds of her target group.

          I think the trend will be found in other countries too, and I believe the cultural root lies in huge corporates seeking to fund organisations that will assist them to prime new markets for harvest specifically in the areas of private healthcare.

          I think you highlight an important propaganda message with your comment; "Being an American" is supposed to be all about freedom, and people see socialism as a restriction on that freedom.'. Yet it seems the reality is that 'freedom' is too often for the few at the expense of the many, therefore is not freedom at all.
        • Nov 14 2011: Hi Debra, I live in America, I ain't duped! Too busy working to pay for the up and coming new entitlements!! :) oops :(
  • Nov 12 2011: I completely agree Debra. It's shameful, particularly for a "Christian" nation to act less Christian towards one another than those without religious convictions. It really doesn't make sense. I think you hit the nail on the head though when you used the word "phobics" because what I think it comes down to is the great fear many Americans have of losing their identity/freedoms/economic power. There are a lot of reasons for this fear, some founded and some not, but as far as capitalism goes, it's seen as the pillar of democracy and the American dream. It's hard to overstate how deeply entrenched this idea is. Last year when there was a lot of discussion about President Obama's new healthcare bill, anyone in support of it would have to say something to the effect of, "Well I like points A, B, and C, but don't worry I'm not in favor of socialized medicine." There is something so toxic about those words in the American mind that many otherwise productive ideas are derailed by fear-mongers pointing to them and crying Socialism!
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    Jah Sun

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    Nov 4 2011: Capitalism and Christianity don't mix.

    The idea that you can be a Christian and a materialist is frankly ridiculous.

    The man who told his followers to give everything they had to the poor and follow him with only a single robe and a stick... HE wants you to be capitalist and chase the dollar?

    Sure.

    The guy who said it is harder for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?

    Really?

    Whatever you think of the guy, and whether you buy into the religion at all is irrelevant... he was clearly not a materialist. He said if you have one tunic, you need not a second. Man does not live by bread alone, etc. etc.

    JC would probably get the police called on him if he knocked on the door of any of these materialist psuedo-Christians. No offense, but you know it is true. An unkempt, long haired, unshaven, homeless guy.

    He would probably be with the Occupy Wall Street people honestly. (remember what he did to the Biblical moneylenders)

    Jesus and Capitalism go together about as well as Jesus and guns.

    And yet, somehow, people manage to take "love your enemies," "beat your swords into plowshares," & "learn war no more..." and find a way for it to justify packing heat in bars, preemptive invasions of foreign lands, and the death penalty . So go figure.
  • Nov 4 2011: Hi Joanne,
    The poor, will never, inherit the earth. This Jesus guy, he is gone.
    The bible is a book. Europe is going tits up. Let us blame it on god and capitalism? Umm, when can we blame it on humans? (just asking) With Respect . :)
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      Nov 4 2011: Yes Tishe, yes yes yes. BUT the question still remains. I think we need to answer it. Thought can be a shackle, people can be immobilised by their thought-shackles.
      • Nov 5 2011: That is interesting! It is the first time, I have heard, that my thoughts could be shackled!
        I do not think, Christianity and Capitalism, are the same. There are a lot of Capitalist's, that are not Christians. Soo, I am not the best human to answer your question. My apologies and with respect.
        Someone, sometime, has to start blaming the human. :)
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          Nov 5 2011: A thought, such has if 'If I change my opinion on this point, I will burn in hell for all eternity' is a kind of thought-shackle, wouldn't you agree? If you hold to such an idea, this idea would prevent you moving toward a different idea. Hence it is a thought-shackle. It is I think, pretty clear Tishe that christianity and capitalism are not the same; I ask a different question. Why are so many people who believe in free market or highly derregulated capitalist priniciples, also sometimes staunchly christian. This seems to me to be a contradiction that raises a couple of interesting questions. What do you think?
        • Nov 15 2011: Tishe,

          I would also say that if we blame God or Capitalism (I am not sure we are doing either, but for the sake of arguement) we are in fact blaming man. After all, man created both. :)
      • Nov 16 2011: Joanne, I think you are right!! I have never heard of that! I like it!! :)
  • Nov 16 2011: I agree there Shawn! I am confused on this, tho! On the upside, I now have a term, for what I'm going thru! My thoughts are shackled! I love it! Thanks Joanne!! :)
  • Nov 14 2011: Full disclosure: I am an Atheist, that is without a faith based belief in deities of any kind, and was raised as a Christian with two close members of my family who are currently fundamentalist Christians.

    I think is a great question and my answer is fairly simple from my experience. The link is between greed and Christianity is manufactured for the most part. Those in the top wealth percentile who support public policy that is in their interest have no problem using religion to their advantage. Therefore, many Christians are right leaning because of issues like abortion. Media that reaffirms their already held beliefs push a slanted view a capitalism that serves wealthy self-interest. In short, I think it is a media phenomenon. Certainly taking the Bible literally would not explain the love of greed - quite the contrary outcome should result.
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      Nov 15 2011: I think I am with you on this one Shawn. Although I agree with almost everything Michael says we may be differing slightly on this point. (apologies if I am incorrect there, Michael) I believe, as you suggest to, it has been a concerted effort, to harvest votes from a moderate, probably left-thinking christian public with polarising issues like abortion, and homosexuality. I can see how 'the protestant work ethic' played a part as Colleen discusses. It seems as if it has been harnessed to raise the spectre of a free-loading underclass who want 'welfare' and are unwilling to contribute in return.
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        Nov 15 2011: Joanne, your last point is that one thing that i think is the most serious, deceitful and crippling of the propaganda. Very good point.
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    Nov 14 2011: Hi Joanne
    It's not christianity alone, the love affair you mentioned embarces all religions.
    Giving you Islamic version of the same saying
    --poors are most favorite person to Allah......
    -- In the day of judgement , poors will be easily thru as they didn't have much to explain , so will go heaven easily
    .......
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      Nov 14 2011: Thanks Salim, your comment is heartwarming.
    • Nov 14 2011: Thanks Salim. I think you are right, greed is really everywhere. It is in people not just religious beliefs.
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        Nov 15 2011: You are welcome Michael.
        Definitely it's people and their greed but one or the other thing acts as lever. Religion is such a lever that people using for long as an effective lever.
        • Nov 15 2011: Unfortunately yes Salim. Religion, "corporateness", prejudice are others who act as levers for this that is inside of man. I think it is more like growing bacteria in a petri dish. Given the right bacteria at the right temp, bad things grow.
  • Nov 12 2011: I'm sure in some cases it is a deliberate power play. "The Moral Majority," the "compassionate conservatives," "Right-wing evangelicals," all of these lump Christians into one category so that any Christian who thinks differently, or more to the left specifically, is made to feel left out and in the wrong. Marrying Christianity to a political party is a shrewd move to get a solid voting bloc for the Republicans, since no Christian wants to vote for a candidate that is against his or her religion. This is when it becomes possible for a candidate to win total support from a group based solely on one issue like abortion. Economics, politics, the environment, justice, all these issues are put on the back burner when a hot-button issue is about morality. This is where religion and patriotism get confused because then conservative Christians start to see capitalism as a Biblical mandate for some reason. However I don't think every candidate is only using Christians for their own gains. Some, maybe, but others probably do have sincere beliefs. The Destiny Church sounds to be one of the phony ones, rigging elections in a grab for power is definitely not a Christian value. I fully agree with your last comment, this tendency definitely seems to allow less freedom for the majority in the long run.
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      Nov 12 2011: Well your opinion aligns directly with mine Colleen. I agree with you, it has been a shrewed move on behalf of republicans and probably expedient, as in the case of Kansas, where the electorate had been largely resistant to the right ideology, they needed a polarising issue in order to establish a new culture centred on simple morality to deflect attention from the politics.

      I suppose I began with the question in order to open dialogue on this issue, because I feel when we see the profit motive in behind a christian, or other moral movement, we might be more able to resist it's message. Of course here on TED we are dealing with a fairly sophisticated audience and a group probably more than able to spot propaganda when it is delivered to them. Yet I still feel that this is one issue that is not discussed enough. As the right seemed to have claimed the language of piety, patriotism and family values to garner a profit motive, criticism has become taboo. As you said, person can be labelled 'socialist' therefore 'un-christian' if you desire a fair and more equitable heathcare system and there are even more volitile issues around homosexuality, and abortion. Destiny try the same things here in New Zealand. At this time, there is plenty of vocal opposition in the electorate, but they use the god card all the time. They are the fastest growing religious group in my country. I think we have a smaller example of what has happened on a much larger scale in the U.S, with horribly detrimental results for many ordinary Americans.
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    Nov 11 2011: It is almost uncanny that a majority of christians are right-wing Rebublicans and have a median income well above average. Could be a coincidence, however, since the times of the Inquisitons, christian leaders felt it their godly duty to devy punishment for the sinners of the land and collect monies for the church.Lots of monies. I do believe the Vatican City is one of the single largest holders of wealth on the whole planet. Most is buried under the Vatican which makes it hard to dig up and share with the poor and suffering in the world. I summize, the addiction to acquiring wealth is found deep in the christians DNA.
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      Nov 11 2011: I do not think it is a coincidence Brian, but a carefully planned campaign to win the hearts and minds of Americans to a right wing they were not naturally inclined to.
    • Nov 12 2011: To understand this trend of addiction from a historical perspective, Google the following:

      See: Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth"

      See: "The Protestant Work Ethic"

      In order to assess the accuracy of your statement on a philosophic level:

      Define: What constitutes Christian canon given that the bible was written a couple hundred years after the fact, and that the oldest Christian church (Catholicism) has many of it's beliefs ground in tradition, not necessarily the bible.

      Make a distinction between: Christians in name and Christians in doctrine, as per the elusive definition of Christian canon
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        Nov 13 2011: Hi Riley, thanks for your comment and your query. I am interested in what has been described as 'dominionism' and its relationship to large scale capitalist interests.

        From Wiki; Dominionism is a term used to describe the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States, with the goal of either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law

        This highly politicized concept of dominionism is based on the Bible's text in Genesis 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (King James Version). "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" (New International Version).

        "Born-again Christians should not be underestimated: they represent half of Republican voters, two-fifths of registered Democrats, and one-third of independent voters," David Kinnaman, director of the study, said in the report. " From a study done in 2008 by the Barna Group

        What is your take on this?
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          Jah Sun

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          Nov 16 2011: Christians who ignore the New Testament and the entire teaching of Jesus to focus on a few lines from Genesis can not be considered Christian. Genesis is mostly just Cliff Notes on Sumerian Creation Stories anyway. (Abraham was a Sumerian son of a High Priest/ Idol Maker)

          Jesus is pretty clear about his love your neighbor even if they slap you or piss you off message.

          Either Christ is your Lord... and you do what he says... or not.

          If you prefer the wrathful and sometimes judgmental G*d of the Old Testament, perhaps you should consider becoming Jewish. However, even then you are still stuck with plenty of anti-Capitalist rhetoric and admonishments... the Mitzvah of Tzedakah (Charity) is central to Judaism.. www.jewfaq.org/tzedakah.htm
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        Jah Sun

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        Nov 16 2011: While those books you mention are worthy reads, I must mention that the Catholic Church is nowhere close to the oldest Christian Church. Not by a long shot.

        All of the Orthodox Churches are older... Syrian, Greek, Eastern, Coptic, Ethiopian etc. etc.

        In fact, a huge number of Churches pre-dated Constantine's wife's overnight conversion. All of the so-called heretical sects as well. (Gnostics, Manicheans and so forth)

        Most of their Bibles also contain books that were never put into the Vulgate as well.

        The Ethiopian Bible, for instance, has all of the Apocrypha including books like the book of Jubilees and 2 books of Enoch. (fascinating reads). Thus, the Amharic & Geez Bibles have 81 books.

        Of the books that made it into Catholicism by surviving the Council of Nicea, a number of them were tossed out in the Reformation. Therefore, the commonly known Protestant Bibles (like the KJV) have even fewer books in them. (I never understood why Protestants didn't go back to the roots and check out the earlier forms of Christianity, but rather made up their own Catholicism Lite.)

        Anyone interested in Christianity, would be well advised to check out some of the truly early forms of it. Read the Gnostic Gospels (like the Gospel of Mary). All the Nag Hammadi books are interesting reads. Essene stuff from around the time of JC is also quite interesting. Check out the Dead Sea Scrolls... and really look into the older Orthodox churches.

        This book from the Ethiopian Cannon, for example, http://reluctant-messenger.com/book_of_enoch.htm is a good taste.
        • Nov 16 2011: Jah Sun
          The only problem I have with this contribution is the claim that the Gnostics strains of Christianity actually reflect any sort of orthodox position taken by the pre-Nicean church. They did not.

          On this conversation however what is interesting is th elevel of social concern shown by early christians, even in the midst of persecution. The social context of these early churches was terribly important. They did, as is obvious from texts like the Didache (The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles, an early 2nd century document) have what we would term a "social consciousness."
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        Nov 17 2011: Greetings Michael,

        I never said that the Gnostics had anything to do with the Orthodox churches.

        I very clearly said that they and the Manicheans were considered heretics. However, it was not until Catholicism that the persecution and genocide of the Gnostics became a major thrust. The Orthodoxy mostly left the Gnostics alone.

        A lot of people like to talk about the Gnostics and what they believed, but have never bothered to read the Gnostic Gospels. If you have not, you owe it to yourself to find a good translation of the Nag Hammadi scrolls, and avail yourself of these early Christian documents. The mix of Essene Judaism and Hellenism that is found in them is a good snapshot of what many of the earliest Christians believed and practiced.

        The fact of the matter is that the Gnostics at Nag Hammadi lived in peace with the Coptic Orthodox there in Egypt.

        Sure, many Christians find (and found) the concepts of the demiurge, archons, aeon, monad and whatnot to be well outside their beliefs, and the influence of greco-roman mystery schools, Zoroastrianism and the like are clear... but the Gnostics were Christian before most existing branches of the religion.

        I am intrigued that they did not have priests, as per JC's teachings. Rather, they drew straws for the giving of sermons and leading in song... even letting children take up these positions if the straws deemed it so. Thus, they were probably the most egalitarian group of religious people we know of. It is no wonder the Catholics hated them so much.

        Anyway, again.... I didn't say what you are claiming I said. And even still, I don't really see what the issue is. Unless the Gnostic teachings are offensive to you, and uttering their name in the same comment as the Orthodox Churches bothers you somehow... I'm not really sure what you are on about.

        Peace & Blessings
        • Nov 17 2011: Jah Sun
          Forgive me if I misunderstood you. It did seem to me upon reading your post that you were saying they reflected true early church theology, which I simply do not believe. I have studied the texts carefully that you mention. Frankly I believe most proto-gnostics were creating a synthesis of Christian, Judaism, Zoroastrian and some mystery religions thrown in. It is hard for me to discount the power of that synthesis and the resulting syncretistic religion.

          But on the point of this conversation I think you would agree with me that the early church, pre-calcedonian, was very involved in the social issues of the moment. For example, we know of the "burial groups" Christians formed to provide burial for other Christians. It was a terribly important social act.

          I believe that Christianity has had this deep social justice heart even in some of the worst moments.
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        Jah Sun

        • +1
        Nov 17 2011: I do agree.

        And in keeping with the focus of this talk, I do find that ALL branches of Christianity (including the most modern offshoots) are clearly and unequivocally lucid about their focus on charity, compassion, forgiveness, and anti-materialism.

        Those that are able to use the message of such a teaching to justify greed and selfishness mystify me utterly.
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    Nov 5 2011: @Joanne:
    Not much actually, to all their point of view, faith and belief!! One day, he will know the truth, as we all will do!!

    I express my opinion, and that's what is important to me.

    Peace
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    Nov 4 2011: Excellent question Joanne,
    I believe the root cause/reason is when the Bible calls for 'domination and control over the natural world'. I think Christianity loses its moral ground right there, and never regains it. I believe many problems stem from this world view, that we can control and dominate. Its in our agriculture with genetic engineering, its in our forestry thinking we can grow trees better than nature, its in our 'discounting the future' in all its manifestations, it's in the litany of unintended consequences we leave future generations as well as the centralization of wealth.

    Ultimately the meek and poor will inherent the earth (although they may not want it then) cause its a fact of life, the closer one lives to the ground, the less one will fall. Think about it while Christianity remains on the rocks, and greed soars.
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      Nov 4 2011: I can't really comment Craig because I agree with everything you said. It is very nice to hear this. I hope you have a nice day.
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    Nov 4 2011: Well, actually it's "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5)

    But it does say "Blessed are you the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)

    I don't see Christianity and egalitarianism being mutually exclusive, but maybe you could make a case for self-proclaimed Christian politicians and egalitarian politics.

    I think it really just boils down to people having an unrealistic notion of where their priorities lie. Many people who call themselves Christians would refuse to look at a bum on the street. Maybe they think they follow the teachings of Christ, but only when asked. They don't really care, and they never really think about it. It's just herd mentality.
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      Nov 4 2011: I think Fred, that someone who claims to follow christianity, should naturally be a socialist, certainly the early christian movement was in fact a socialist movement, a reaction against the widening gap between rich and poor in ancient Rome. Thanks for your comment Fred and for the correct wording of my quotes too.
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        Nov 4 2011: I have a socialist friend that preaches, and we've had some good conversations about this. I don't think you can force people to follow Jesus. If giving is something that's required, it no longer takes strength. Christianity isn't a political system (at least it was never meant to be :P), it's about having the strength to conduct yourself proper and do what's right no matter what kind of world or political system you live in. To be not of the world, but a light for it (people can probably have a laughing fit over this looking at the past thousand years).

        If you force Christianity onto people, it can no longer be called Christianity. We saw this with Byzantium and the dark ages. Following Christ doesn't require a change in political structure, and if that's what it takes to get you giving, you aren't really giving anything.
  • Nov 17 2011: Joanne,
    My apology for not being very clear. God-and-Capitalism was the topic. i guess what i was trying to ask (someone to explain) or point out is that because the bibles are there for anyone to pick and choose whatever principle that suits him or her best, i.e. benefits him or her most, it gives no effective guidance to our society. Therefore, Christianity will work just fine, in fact, great for capitalism. It numbs the mass to the pain they suffer from injustice. It is a useful tool for a capitalistic society! Now if the bibles had said:
    - if you are rich you must give back 50% of your earning to your community or
    - if you kill you will never ever enter my heaven
    ...
    then the next day, this capitalist society will likely burn all the bibles!
    So the bottom line is the bibles and the current Christianity in the US work just perfect for the extreme capitalists.
    As the exclaims goes "god is alive and well in America!" - what they meant is "god is a good tool" !

    (i came to the US as a refugee from a communist country, and i owe and love the US dearly - i hate communism - but that does not blind me to common sense and the fact that whether you are under communism or capitalism, as long as you belong to the "party" you will do fine. in short, the extreme form of either approach is sick)
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      Jah Sun

      • +1
      Nov 17 2011: I think, diputs, that the point here is that the Bible actually does say the things you have articulated... even harsher things, tbh.

      It doesn't merely say give 50% of your earnings to your community, but actually admonishes people who choose to follow Yeshua to give ALL of their worldly possessions to the poor. It says you should only keep a single robe and a walking stick.

      Somehow, though, I sincerely doubt that society will start burning Bibles over this. They are extremely good at simply twisting the books to say whatever they want them to say. Who needs to burn books when you have doublespeak, propaganda, and quoting out of context?
  • Nov 16 2011: My apologies Joanne, I did not mean to get off the discussion of your idea.
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      Nov 16 2011: No apology required Tishe, it is nice to read your comments and have your input.
  • Nov 9 2011: Then perhaps a really dumb question:

    How can anyone, left alone with reasons and intellect (i.e. not indoctrinated since birth), negotiate the discrepancies in the teaching of the Christian bibles?

    - Thou shall not kill
    - Give the other cheek
    ...
    - an eye for an eye

    Two issues arise that i cannot understand:
    - if each can interpret the bible to her/his liking - what good is the bible?
    - if the bible cannot even make clear that killing is BAD - how can we sort anything else out based on this text
    AND WHY COULDN'T GOD JUST MAKE IT VERY SIMPLE AND CLEAR - that in all his teachings, no 2nd interpretation
    is possible? (search for Julia Sweeney's book)

    As to the hypocrisy of the ultra conservatives in the US - just see how much of Luke 4 (per Michael M) they follow!

    I sincerely wish some Christians can educate me on these points - in a rational way. (Thanks!)
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      Nov 9 2011: My question is less about the problems associated with gleaning a doctrine from the written words in the bible, and more about its use in the neoconservative propaganda machine. Any thoughts on that?
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        Nov 11 2011: my thought is the Agnostic demographic is poorly represented in government and needs a voice to help balance out those agendas so government can work for the people who elected said officials.
    • Nov 9 2011: Well, you might be surprised, but people are able to do it all the time once they understand the message of scripture. As I said in my post unfortunately many of the far right in Christianity, across many denominational lines btw, do not interpret Luke 4 or for that matter, many other clear teachings of Scripture on justice issues in a good way, nor are they willing to apply in concrete ways in people's lives.

      This is not the forum to discuss your interpretive questions about other things, but seeking justice is a teaching that is certainly there.

      And there really are no dumb questions.
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      Jah Sun

      • +1
      Nov 9 2011: I certainly don't want to defend Christianity here, but the "eye for an eye" part was in the Old Testament, and most Christians assert that the New Testament wins out where they disagree.

      Nonetheless, there are plenty of discrepancies within the NT, and I know what you mean. It is likely that people who value reason and intellect simply can not be fundamentalists of any sort.

      I would go one step further and say that very few of the people who think they are Christians are actually that according to the NT. JC says that if you have not the Holy Spirit, you are not of him, and not part of his flock. It says, furthermore, that you will know when you have the Holy Spirit by the 'signs & wonders' (miracles). One who has the Holy Spirit should be able to heal the sick, trod on serpents & scorpions, prophesize, speak in tongues they haven't learned... and even raise the dead (according to the Bible). JC said that all HE did, you too shall do and MORE.

      Thus, and this will make me no friends, if you have never even seen a miracle... chances are you do not have the Holy Spirit... ergo, you are not a Christian.

      HINT: Praying to a statue of a crucified JC is probably not a good idea either, considering that the Bible says that idolatry is worse than murder.
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      Nov 6 2011: Thanks Teresa. Great documentary and article. It highlights the core of the problem really and the difficulties there in. Assertion: an enthusiastic or energetic statement presented as a fact, although it is not necessarily true. Bandwagon; an appeal to follow the crowd. Glittering generalities; words that have different positive meaning for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. The Science of Modern Propaganda. http://www.propaganda101.com/ .

      Have you seen this one? 'The Shock Doctrine'; Naomi Kline looks at how free market policies have 'risen to prominence in some countries because they were pushed through while the citizens were reacting to disasters or upheavals. It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Falklands war, may have been created with the intention of being able to push through these unpopular reforms in their wake'(wiki). Near the end of his review of Kline's book, Dr. Clonan says—that the neoconservative project is not about "implanting of democracy" but a repressive prescription for the maximising of global profit for a small elite. "Neocons see the ideal ratio of super-rich to permanent-poor as consistent with an uber-class of business oligarchs and their political cronies from the top 20%". The remaining 80% of the world’s population, the "disposable poor", would subsist in "planned misery" unable to afford adequate housing, privatised education or healthcare.'
  • Nov 6 2011: Hi Joanne, I think I am in over my head on this one! (which is not hard to do!) I do have a question for ya tho!
    What about all the other religions, that are not Christianity? There are plenty of of humans that believe in capitalism, that are let's say, Jewish, Muslim, Atheists, etc., etc.,. So, it is a question with respect to you. (does that make sense?)
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      Jah Sun

      • +4
      Nov 6 2011: tishe

      The New Testament is almost unique in its fervent egalitarianism and altruism. It demands compassion, charity, and a rejection of materialism in a way that is not present to such an extreme in other Western religions... it is even hard to find in the East.

      You will be hard pressed to find quotes attributed to other religious figures that come off as inherently anti-Capitalist as those from JC.

      Many religious people lead humble, monastic, and ascetic lives... but few of their holy books are as dead set against materialist greed.

      Thus, I think this conversation is correct to focus on the hypocrisy of many modern "Christian" Materialists.
      • Nov 7 2011: Hi Jah Sun, as I told Joanne, I think, I am in over my head on this one. I am not in a debate, I'm replying to a question. This question is obviously a simple matter of personal beliefs and opinions. (with respect to Joanne and you)
      • Nov 7 2011: The Buddhist and Sikh faiths are two that come to mind in the East that directly reject materialistic greed.

        I also spoke with an Islamic man a few weeks ago and he informed me that Islamic people should not give or take loans with interest. I haven't read the Quran, so I can't back up or refute his claim. It made sense to me though.

        In short, I think there are quotes attributed to other religious figures that come off as inherently anti-Capitalist as those from JC.
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          Jah Sun

          • +1
          Nov 7 2011: Sure. Most religions recognize greed as a bad thing.

          BTW Christianity also directly prohibits usury. In fact, the concept of banking in general was so frowned upon in the Christian world that the entire profession was left to the Jews and other non-believers in the New Testament. (Think Shylock from the Merchant Of Venice) This situation lasted a very long time.

          There is no doubt that many schools of Buddhists are quite ascetic. The actual teachings of Lord Buddha however, tend to focus on not being attached to the illusory material world, rather than specifically telling people to give all of their worldly goods away. I don't wanna split hairs, and the differences between Chan, Mahayana, Theraveda, Tibetan, Zen and so on, are so great that one can not really paint their beliefs with one brush.

          As for Sikhs, despite knowing a number of them as friends... I can not comment on what the Guru Granth Sahib says specifically in this regard. I don't believe it injuncts them to give away ALL their possessions to the poor though. Nor the Zend Avesta. Nor the teachings of Confucius, or the Tao Te Ching...

          My point is not that other religions don't have plenty of quotes that could be considered anti-capitalist... it is rather that The New Testament is uniquely strong in its stance in this.

          Be well.
      • Nov 7 2011: I think I misunderstood your original point regarding renouncement of ALL material goods.

        While I'm not sure about direct quotes supporting giving up all possessions, the Sikh faith actively pushes the renunciation of material goods. A quick Google search led me here: http://realsikhism.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1248309786&ucat=7

        You're right regarding using one brush to paint the various Buddhist beliefs can be misleading.

        Regardless, I appreciate your well-thought out and reasoned response. You clarified my misunderstanding.

        Take care :)
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          Nov 7 2011: Thanks for that link. It seems to suggest that Sikhism is also inherently anti-Capitalist, at least to some degree.

          Their 5 person executive power-sharing model reminds me of the Swiss system with their 7 person bundesrat.

          All the best..
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      Nov 6 2011: Tishe, would you say, that Jewish, Muslim, Atheists, etc etc, have been active in persuading people that their version of god or un-god supports capitalism? I think many christian groups have been. I can point to a dangerous and fast becoming powerful, christian franchise that is gaining ground here in New Zealand where I live. The Destiny Church. They begin to try to make inroads into government through the Maori Woman's League. I believe their goal is simple. The church is simply a trogan horse, they hide inside it in order to enter the hearts and minds of people for the single purpose of making money. I use this one example to highlight a much bigger and more insidious problem globally. How right interests group infiltrate religious thought for their own ends.
      • Nov 7 2011: Hi Joanne, to be honest with ya, I have no idea! I was just asking a question. I do appreciate you, taking your time to explain your idea! I can tell by the way you write, you are passionate about this! Your question caught my eye cuz I have a real problem with organized religion. I happen to think capitalism is a good thing. (when it is done with integrity) I guess I mis-understood your question? With Respect to ya!!
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      Nov 11 2011: I have a thought, perhaps, intrinsicly, people who are rich are acutely aware of this because the have so much more than the majority and they have more money,etc., than is needed to live. Thus, this awareness gave rise to guilt which needed a cure because no one wants to feel guilty for having so much more and still not being satisfyed, so thru the years changed verbage in sacred text (bible) and splintered off to form sects, or denominations which espouse one part of a perfect book as being in higher order than another part, of the same perfect, hand written by the holy spirit of God and Yeshua who don't make mistakes orneed correction on their blueprint manuscript(or maybe they did) to not only make it ok, but it was someithng to strive for and even, wait, wait, someting they deserved. Wow. Money(the good life) was something a christian could seek, desire, covet(because if they had more money they can help more people silly!)and be proud of. Of course to everyone else who didn't chase the dollar but lived with in their means, in an honest and hard-working kinda way, this was not right. And that kinda brings us to now.
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        Nov 11 2011: Thanks Brian. I am more inclined to think christianity has been used as a propaganda tool to create a 'bandwagon' or to make an 'assertion' (such as family values or pro-life) , or to create 'glittering generalities' , to rally support for capitalist interests tied to the Republican Party, that would not otherwise have their support. Teresa Strong put up a link to a good documentary that describes how this process took place in Kansas just prior to the Reagan election. It is called 'What's the Matter with Kansas' and you can see it on Youtube.
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    Nov 5 2011: Not all Christians are for greed and most of the ones that are do not think of themselves that way. The truth is that in the US the most vocal of the Christians are really waging a culture war that to them has Gods backing. Regardless of the facts and obvious failings of their positions to them all they need is faith and the feeling that gives them. They live in the ether and no amount of reason, facts, proofs, evidence contrary to their "belief" will sway them. Arguing is a waste of time. The only thing that I have seen work is dripping the reason on them slowly and checking back now and then to see if they are ready to join the rest of us reasoning types.
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      Nov 5 2011: I do not mean to imply at that ALL Christians are for greed. I hope to discuss the reasoning behind people who choose to follow the teachings of the bible and free market principles which seem at odds with each other. I also would like to talk about the way the right have appropriated religion to further their goals. Thanks for your comment Crit. 'dripping the reason slowly'. Does that work?
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        Nov 11 2011: Yes, in fact it can. When a person is ready if you have been tactfully, with honesty and integrity, dripping reason on them they will respond. As humans we inherently resist all change and the fear of losing our "religion" and all that goes with that is very strong. However, some will have that nagging question overwhelm their fear and start to actually think about what they hear instead of instantly dismissing it. Drip with no expectations, with a smile and let the idea germinate. People under estimate the power of structures in peoples lives. Religion and other forms of external structures are often leaned on quite heavily and the fear of losing that support system can be quite strong. Strong enough to allow for shutting ones mind to anything that might undermine those structures, even when they know better.
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        Nov 11 2011: I think part of the reason that Christianity has espoused free market capitalism as a doctrine has something to do with the centuries where poverty and piousness went hand in hand. When the 'Name it and claim it" doctrines took center stage in the American south they were unapologetically avaricious. Also keep in mind that these doctrines sprang up in the areas which had vigorously defended slavery as a viable means to wealth which then appeared to be sanctioned first by scriptural references and they by the idea that it was approved by God because the prosperity went along with it.
        Christianity in America is a very complex subject. Many many influences highjacked the faith from Puritanism which was willing to kill people to keep things pure to the slavery issues.
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          Nov 11 2011: Well, Crit, I have seen this happen with people who I thought would never change their ideas so I hear the truth in your words. The interesting thing is, you know you have gotten through when they begin to relate your own ideas back to you as if they had thought that all along. I think the number of times a person has to hear something before they are able to learn it is seven. It is probably a lot higher if in the first instance they are opposed to the idea and higher again if the have some kind of thought-shackle in place such as 'I will burn in hell for all eternity if I change my view on that'.

          I spend a lot of time thinking about that Debra so thanks for your insightful comment.' When the 'Name it and claim it" doctrines took center stage in the American south they were unapologetically avaricious. '. I think we are talking about fairly simple propaganda techniques which many other power groups have used with great success. How does one resist a tidal wave of ignorance, someone else has created in order to profit by it?
  • Nov 4 2011: Joanne. Thanks for your reply.
    Your question poses a thoughtful conflict. However, the idea that there is one right way to be a Christian is irrational, just as the idea that there is only one right way to govern society is irrational.
    To me, your question seems too narrow to have an answer that can or should be applied to all people in all circumstances. But, in the spirit of discussion I think I would follow the command of Deity. In the extreme circumstance of your hypothetical question, given a direct command that seemingly conflicts with other general principles taught by the same commander, I would, as a follower, exercise the faith that following the command would ultimately add to my own self-actualization and development.
    The utilization of free will brings us each individually, and as a society, grief but also joy. In the exercise of applying conflicting general principles, be they religious or secular, humanity continues to progress to better places and better times. Although it is frustrating when one person’s choice, or the majority’s choice seem to conflict with a general principal that we as an individual place greater weight on, such as your statement that perhaps communal sharing is more important than self-actualization and self-attainment, it is imperative, nonetheless, to continue to listen and develop an understanding of other’s seemingly disastrous applications.
    This last concept may be described as the general principle of compassion taught by Christ, and others. Compassion is much more complicated and thus, should not be boiled down to narrow interpretations less the essence be lost. Still, the principle remains as a conceptual goal, and practice towards such a goal will likely bring with it both self-actualization and the communal sharing by necessary correlation.

    Let me know your thoughts.
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      Nov 5 2011: I like the way you think. Yet my pespective is probably at odds with yours. When I posed my question to you in my last post, I was trying to highlight an important problem for me; what happens when someone who considers themself a christian also subscribes to another belief system which seems, on the surface at least, at odds with their religion. I am curious about this because the bible's teaching line up quite closely to egalitarian principles common to socialist thought yet the bible is appropriated as a tool for proponents of the free market often enough. I am interested on a wider level, as to how this has happened and also how individuals deal with what would seem to me, a difficult conflict of interest.
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    Nov 4 2011: God created capitalism. He is the most RICH, POWERFUL force on earth and beyond !!

    Joanne, you should explain what these Scriptures means to you "Blessed are you the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God", what does it mean to you, and what does the Bible mean from it. At the end, it all about finding your OWN response and live with it, with honesty, loyalty, sharing, giving....all the good things God gave us, even capitalism.

    Are you a greedy person ? God gave us a lot of things WE, then decide how to use it. Excessively, moderation, cupidity, share it, donate etc.

    Peace
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      Nov 4 2011: Thanks Mireille, what a passionate woman you are! What did you think of Graig Patterson's wise remark below?
  • Nov 4 2011: To begin, the Christian tradition as a whole has embodied a sense of self fulfillment. This is especially true in America where the Protestant tradition inspired a motivation to separate from the Church of England based on an underlying belief that personal inspiration is the real essence of Christian Inspiration.

    This philosophy is promulgated in the Declaration of Independence statement that "all men are created equal.". The idea of equal creation gives rise to the assumption that what is true in heaven should be true on earth. While this assumption is inherently flawed, it presents a value of self actualization, and hence a belief in individual accomplishment lying the groundwork for a morality based belief in capitalism...where free will and the ability of one person to make their own fate in concert with the will if God allows for them to realize their dreams and aspirations.

    While this moral may seem to conflict with the be-attitudes you have quoted, it nonethless works in concert with Jesus's larger philosophy of self worth, self actualization, and separation from the tyranny of government and top-down religion or other top-down morality based belief. Remember, Jesus himself was an outsider and a threat to the institution of the time.

    Your question is completely warranted, but is a reflection of only temporary and current affiliations. In the long run, Chirstianity will have to bridge the gap between self actualization and compassion reflected in the be-attitudes that you have quoted.

    The frustration with this process will ultimately need to be tempered by patience, coincidentally reflected in the teachings of Jesus, as believers and non-believers alike learn, and ultimately embody, the true nature of Christ.
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      Nov 4 2011: Hi Micah, thanks for commenting. You seem to be a very bright person. A christian person who accepts your comment; 'a value of self actualization, and hence a belief in individual accomplishment lying the groundwork for a morality based belief in capitalism...where free will and the ability of one person to make their own fate in concert with the will if God allows for them to realize their dreams and aspirations.' would have to to turn a blind eye to a great deal that the bible teaches. If jesus revisited us today and pronounced directly 'I want you to share what you have more equally. This planet was given to you as a Garden of Eden, I want you to protect it'. Would you do it, or would you say instead, 'nah...you don't really mean that...what you REALLY mean is realise your dreams, do what you want to do.' Which of these two statements do you think you would make given your statement in the context of the bible's teachings?
      • Nov 12 2011: I think your question here is really where the heart of the issue lies. Do Christians really believe that Jesus calls us to give up everything to serve him and others before ourselves? I believe so, and I think the Bible says that, but where Christians struggle with any system other than capitalism is when they see this becoming a government-mandated decree rather than a choice they make to be generous. Americans hate the idea of being told what to do. If Jesus said, "Give everything away," these rich Christians SHOULD be saying "ok," and doing it, but if the government says "support the poor with your wealth," their response is hell no. That's because the GOP stands on the idea that charity and generosity are personal values and the public should take care of each other on their own out of the goodness of their heart. Unfortunately that fails, because corporations don't usually have hearts. But the average American does, and therefore goes along with the big Republican idea. They generally hate the idea of "handouts" and welfare, even if it would benefit them, because they'd rather support the free market and be generous on their own. Not very many people take it as far as Jesus wanted the disciples to in the Bible though. He said the disciples should go out with the clothes on their back and not even bring a bag or a walking stick. American Christians who balk at that level of generosity fall short of what the Bible teaches.
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          Nov 13 2011: Your comment reminds me of something Michael referred me to in his post; Max Weber's book called 'The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism'. I looked it up on Wiki and found this quote from Benjamin Franklin;

          'Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.[...]Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.'

          It rings true doesn't it, as a concept at the very root of American culture. Yet I do not think business and community care need be mutually exclusive. The Amish seem to do it very well, making an artful marriage between extreme piety, business acumen and community life. The Nordic democratic socialist model too, shows it is possible to be bridge business and social welfare successfully.

          As you point out, the modern culture of greed is so firmly entrenched these days, it leaves me wondering, whatever can be done to overturn it?
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          Nov 15 2011: Joanne, I think the crux of the scriptural problems is one proverb "If a man will not work he should not eat." Franklin was only suggesting that a man should realize those fact for himself. My big complaint is when Christians impose the rules that should be used as inner guidelines for their own behaviour. They should apply it to themselves first with a large dose of checking their own eye for a log rather than publically enforcing their views and tennets in the public realm. I do not think for one moment that Christ meant that the healthy should not feed and care for the sick, the strong should not tenderly care for the weak or that those in the middle should not care for the young and the old. Compassion is something that goes out the window as soon as people 'hoard up".
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          Jah Sun

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          Nov 16 2011: Americans who balk at what Jesus said are not Christians.

          The Founding Fathers weren't even Christians by and large, but they were even closer to the spirit of the New Testament than modern right wing "fundamentalists."

          Why these conservative, anti-safety net, pro-death-penalty, uptight, wealth-lovers think that they should invoke the very hippy teachings of a homeless Jewish rabble-rouser rabbi... or the neo-archaic occultism of the authors of our founding documents... I can't quite wrap my head around.

          [historical note: The Founding Fathers were mostly DEISTS and FREEMASONS]