New age market Catholicism

images

What happens to religion under capitalism and under uber-nationalism?

The answer is: It almost totally corrodes the religious impulse. It dries up the wells of compassion, central to the Abrahamic faiths. It breaks our solidarity with the weak.

Martin Buber was beginning to understand this as he aged. His Hebrew Humanism would lie in tatters as israel became a racist, settler state built on the occupation of another people. The Jews of the yishuv who had resided in Palestine side by side with Palestinians were appalled by the substitution of a  crude nationalism for the life of piety, Jewish ethics and mitzvahs (good deeds). As  one rabbi said, “The Torah is our land.”

Of course, this hollowing out of  true religion  is not germane only to Israel or to Judaism.

One only has to look at the awful blow dealt to evangelical Protestantism in the Bush years. War making in the name of the Prince of Peace.

The Serbian Orthodox bought the depredations of Milosevic. another failure and betrayal of Christ.

Catholics are as susceptible to this subversion as anybody else.

Many RCs have been suborned by “market Catholicism” where the  blandishments of the consumer society have subverted the call to the cross. This predictable hybrid bloomed in the post-war years with the explosion of affluence and the retreat to the suburbs. The God life was undermined by the good life or as Nietzsche would have it, “a life of pitiable comfort.”  Life was very good and the call to the cross was—well uncomfortable. Catholics who universally voted Democrat began to slide into the comfort zone of Reaganism. Their votes followed and they conveniently ignored  that the Gipper transferred more wealth to the rich than any president in history, made war all over Latin America and began the process of deregulating the banks which savaged the global economy in 2008. He was the perfect face for the new market Catholicism.

This is bad religion, all mysticism, therapeutic and non-prophetic. It is a sentimental betrayal of God’s call to the reign of God. Jesus was murdered at 33 but many new age Catholics, now economically privileged ran from this fact and retreated into an individualist  and consumerist religion  devoid of any social solidarity. John Paul ll though good on the social question , defended unions and the common good also promoted the ahistorical orders like Opus Dei and the Legions of Christ, neither of which in Pope Francis’ words had “the smell of the sheep on them.” They were run by twisted men and held up as models of the New evangelization. They were top down orders which placed the church not God’s reign of peace and justice at the heart of their calling. They courted the wealthy and were disengaged from the social question.

Market catholicism It is basically ahistorical,all consciousness and little conscience, all resurrection but no cross in sight. It is hyper individualistic. It disconnects the individual from the broader culture and allows him/her a zone of spiritual comfort. This abstracted faith leaves the realm of tears and suffering and settles on the self and personal fulfillment. The best example  is  Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand loving Republican who  was on the last GOP ticket. Read his extraordinary confession:

It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”

“But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

Mmm, Ayn Rand, the high priestess of individualism  but not Isaiah, Amos or Jesus?

New  age market Catholicism.

.

Advertisements

5 Comments »

  1. 1

    What happens to religion under capitalism and under uber-nationalism?
    The answer is: It almost totally corrodes the religious impulse. It dries up the wells of compassion, central to the Abrahamic faiths. It breaks our solidarity with the weak.

    That’s an assertion without evidence. What happens to religion under socialism? It almost totally corrodes the religious impulse. It dries up the wells of compassion–because it shifts all responsibility to the state. In fact, socialism leads to radical individualism, precisely because government alone has social responsibility.

    Now, you may not agree with that, but at least there is some sort of reasoned argument for the claim. You offer not argument, no reason, just an assertion.

    One only has to look at the awful blow dealt to evangelical Protestantism in the Bush years. War making in the name of the Prince of Peace.

    Why Bush years? What about the Obama years? He’s increased war efforts. Killed more people using drones than Bush ever dreamed of. And how does this have any connection to capitalism? To argue that

    America is a capitalist country
    America went to war a number of times.
    therefore, capitalism is the engine behind the war

    is just astoundingly dumb reasoning. What about the capitalist countries that have no gone to war? What about the non-capitalist countries that have initiated wars and mass killings in the 20th century? It’s as if you just write without stopping to think about the logic of what you are writing.

    Many RCs have been suborned by “market Catholicism” where the blandishments of the consumer society have subverted the call to the cross.

    And many of these people vote left. So what’s your point?

    This predictable hybrid bloomed in the post-war years with the explosion of affluence and the retreat to the suburbs. The God life was undermined by the good life or as Nietzsche would have it, “a life of pitiable comfort.” Life was very good and the call to the cross was—well uncomfortable.

    But Teddy boy, you see the same thing in the history of Israel. During times of prosperity, the Israelites fell away from the Lord, which is why the prophets were called upon to call them back. That had nothing to do with capitalism. It had to do with prosperity. That’s the human condition. When all is well, we get cocky, and we think “Who needs God?” Suffering brings us back to our senses. The same thing happens under a socialist government. Look at Sweden. It is one of the most anti-religious countries in Europe. Who needs God when the government provides for all our needs?

    Catholics who universally voted Democrat began to slide into the comfort zone of Reaganism.

    That’s because the politics of the Democrats changed. They became increasingly anti-life. Duh!

    Their votes followed and they conveniently ignored that the Gipper transferred more wealth to the rich than any president in history,

    Which led to greater employment and a much lower unemployment rate. There is far far greater unemployment among blacks under Obama than there ever was under Reagan.

    made war all over Latin America and began the process of deregulating the banks which savaged the global economy in 2008.

    Yikes. The 2008 bust had everything to do with the housing boom, and that was the result of a change of lending law. Banks were required to lend to those who were simply too big a risk to lend for a mortgage. When government interferes with the market and forces banks to lend to those whose prospects of repayment are very low, this is the result. You blame Reagan for the Bust? You know nothing about economics.

    This is bad religion, all mysticism, therapeutic and non-prophetic.

    Mysticism???? Well that’s a first.

    promoted the ahistorical orders like Opus Dei and the Legions of Christ,

    a-historical orders??? Do you sit around and make up vocabulary? What the heck is an a-historical order?

    neither of which in Pope Francis’ words had “the smell of the sheep on them.”

    How do you know? Did you smell everyone of them?

    The best example is Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand loving Republican who was on the last GOP ticket. Read his extraordinary confession:

    “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”

    At least they read. Have you read Atlas Shrugged? Or The Fountainhead? Mises and Hayek are brilliant. I’m not a big Ayn Rand fan, she’s a lousy philosopher, but we always must give our opponents in debate a fair shake. She’s an atheist, but let’s hear her arguments about economics. At least she has one. All you have is rhetoric and specious logic.

    Mmm, Ayn Rand, the high priestess of individualism but not Isaiah, Amos or Jesus?

    Isaiah, Amos, and Jesus were not economists. Economics is a science. You cannot give to the poor when you have a government that is creating poverty, and left wing governments are masters at creating poverty. The government does not produce wealth. It gets its tax revenues from the tax payer, but the more you tax the tax payer, the more you decrease production, which decreases tax revenues, which then forces the government to create debt, which hurts the poor in the long run, etc., etc.,. What the poor need is employment, but government does not create employment.

    Finally, studies show that conservatives give more per capita to charities and charitable causes than liberals, and Americans give more per capita to charity than do Canadians.

    You need an approach that is more “scientific” in that it produces evidence to back your claims. Your approach is purely rhetoric. You need logic, reasoned argument, and evidence. As Christopher Hitchens says, that which is asserted without evidence can just as easily be dismissed without evidence.

  2. 2

    Mmm, Ayn Rand, the high priestess of individualism but not Isaiah, Amos or Jesus?

    Crock reply: Isaiah, Amos, and Jesus were not economists.

    This is an important reply. Jesus provides us with the end. But how does one go about achieving that end? How does a country bring about the common good? That’s a very complicated question. To say “well, we must concern ourselves with the poor”, is true, and it is obvious, but what is the most prudent and effective way to eliminate poverty? The common prejudice today is that conservative politics is not interested in eliminating poverty, but only in making the rich richer. That, of course, is just 60s peacenik leftist stupidity. Isaiah was calling back the people of Israel to fidelity to the law, the Torah. Love of God leads to love of neighbor. Love of Christ leads to love of neighbor. But we still need doctors with the know how to operate on cancer patients, we still need biochemists to research new medications, we still need economists to study the laws of economics. The appeal to Jesus above is much like the “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets. That’s the point: it isn’t always clear what Jesus would do. We know what the Jesus of your mind would do–he would not take up arms, he would not work in a bank or be a venture Capitalist, he would not buy a lottery ticket, and he might even drive a woman to the abortion clinic, might even perform the abortion himself, etc.,. But that just begs the questions. We still don’t know what Jesus would do, only what you would do.

  3. 3
    wmgrace Says:

    Thanks Ted. Recently came across this discussion. I think in a way it further clarifies the nature of the ongoing human struggle against capitalist idolatry and certainly puts it into an historical context.

    “We are joined together, Augustine wrote, as a community by the love of the same object. Human love, he wrote, is always directed either toward God or the self. There are no other choices. The other loves we have in life, the love of status, the love of possessions, the love of power, are always the love of self. We have, Augustine argued, two choices in life. we can embrace the City of God, where we struggle to love to the exclusion of the self, a love that forces us to negate ourselves and our security to conserve, preserve and protect others, or we can embrace the City of Man where unbridled self-interest makes us all enemies. In the City of God, where we make hard and sometimes painful sacrifices for others, we become part of the whole. In the city of man where we live only for advancement of the self, we become part of the mob.”

    Chris Hedges

  4. 4

    wmgrace (aka Ted): Your reply is wonderful in that it makes reference to St. Augustine (amazing how these saints are brought into the discussion when it is convenient, and left out when it is inconvenient), but the intellectual wires in your head got crossed again. The fact is, this is not the City of God, and so we cannot implement policy as if it were, and then expect it to work. We still need law. Why? Because this isn’t the City of God. For example, religious orders operate under a kind of ‘socialism’. If a Dominican is a professor, his pay cheque goes not into his own private bank account, rather, it does to the Order. Their property is possessed in common. That can work in a religious order. They are all committed to the same end, which is the proclamation of the kingdom of God and the specific mission of St. Dominic. That will work, unless of course a scoundrel gets in, a fraud, who only poses as a Dominican, but is really only after the Order’s money and property. So, it can work among the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Augustinians, the Benedictines, etc. But it cannot work in the secular world. It should work in the secular world, it is tragic that it does not; but that’s the reality. You lock your door at night, you lock your car door at night, you lock your garage door at night, and you have a private bank account. Why? Because you realize that this is not the City of God, and treating this City as if it were the City of God will only leave you penniless, without a car, without a lawnmower, without a rake, without, without a stereo, without a computer, without food in your fridge, etc. If we were to take down speed limit signs and lines dividing lanes, there would be chaos on the road, and your life would be in danger whenever you get in and drive. Not because you are an irresponsible driver–I trust you 100%; rather, because the other guy is an irresponsible moron and drives like a complete idiot. He does so when there are signs, and when the roads are slippery after a snowfall, and when ice forms on the road. Imagine what would happen if there were no traffic laws?

    There’s no need for Capitalism in the City of God, just as there is no need for laws in the city of God, and no need for the sun in the City of God, for The Lord will be our light, etc. But in this City, we need to work, and we need to engage in freely agreed upon transactions, and we need the rule of law. Socialist Utopia is not in itself a bad idea; it is just that it is a Utopian idea, and Utopias do not work. Why? St. Augustine has the answer. It’s called Original Sin. So you can lament all you want, and I lament with you. I agree with your sentiments. It’s just that we have to open our eyes and see what is really out there, not just what we would like to see, and we have to find a way to make it work. You’ve got to give up the ideological thinking and begin to take statistical evidence seriously. What are the facts? What are the results in terms of poverty reduction in those regions in the world, especially the western world, in which there is greater economic freedom? Does economic freedom lead to a reduction of poverty or to an increase in poverty? We have to allow the facts to speak for themselves, and we have to have the guts and strength of character to face it when the facts speak against the ideological presuppositions we’ve held on to for decades. But many people don’t have that, and they just stubbornly refuse to even consider the evidence. But what is more ironic is that these very people lament the lack of open dialogue in the Church and among the hierarchy.

  5. 5

    Here’s a very clear article worth studying:

    http://reason.com/archives/2013/12/22/the-pope-dabbles-in-economics

    The pope dabbles in economics


RSS Feed for this entry

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: