Monday, March 16, 2015

Wealthiness is next to Godliness

Jesus became a serious pure-market capitalist in the 1930s. Before then most Americans believed the Bible nonsense Jesus allegedly said about the wealthy man and the eye of the needle and about how we should feed and clothe the poor in His name. Boy did Jesus fool us! An excellent piece in today's NYTimes explains the history.

For a while not many people believed the truth about Jesus in a three-piece suit and expensive shoes. Eisenhower, who was a Republican, kept FDR’s New Deal in place and went right on taxing top earners more than working stiffs. American prosperity was broad and stable. Working people lived in nice safe neighborhoods with decent schools.

That changed with Reagan. Reagan had allies among the TV prophets who earned millions off of faithful viewers living in mobile home parks. The Reagan revolution, with Jesus’ almighty help, put working people back in difficulties, flattened working incomes, forcing families to have two earners to get by. Taxes on top earners went way down. Government help dried up for most of us but ballooned for special industries preferred by Republicans and Jesus, like weapons manufacturing and predatory lending. Who said you couldn’t worship both God and Mammon? (Hint: it was Jesus. And he was apparently wrong.) Christianity Today has an interesting piece explaining the so-called Prosperity Gospel. (Do you see any mention of Jesus weeping?)

This right wing alliance of wealth and Christianity is downright unholy. Its home is in the Republican Party. They’re the same ones who funded the Citizens United lawsuit making secret million dollar political donations sacred. (They’re also the ones funding the fight against affordable healthcare, because––as Jesus said––sickness and fear of death are best managed as a business model, a source of profits.) The Theocracy Watch website tracks this creepy phenomenon.

An interesting example: Joel Osteen, who lives in a $10.5 million property in Houston, which is a step up from the $3 million property he still owns. Jesus must really really really love him and not like the rest of us much. There's his house, on a map of the star's homes in Houston.

John Hagee is another one of these Elmer Gantrys. Less handsome, but mesmerizing. Intelligent responsible people used to laugh at charlatans like this. The powerful have learned these preachers are a good way to keep a leash on the working masses. American Prospect tells Hagee's story of Jesus-Went-To-Business-School.

There are a lot of busy churchy people out there who’ve carefully revised the Revised Standard Version of the Bible to explain why wealth and money and getting ahead of your neighbor is a true sign of God’s blessing. All of us would rather be Saved and own an expensive car than be Saved and live hand to mouth. People are very good at rationalizing themselves out of being kind to the poor. It’s much more rewarding and pleasant to ignore them. It’s nice to be rich without feeling any obligation to anyone else. The easiest way to do this is to believe the poor are wicked. Even though Jesus said the opposite.

There's no shame in vulgar wealth anymore. It's holy. It's a sign that Jesus loves you. Nobody hides it anymore. Why should they? Their tax rate is so low. Wall Street pros make more in a day than most people earn in a year. Which might explain why the bonuses given out in 2014 — $28.5 billion worth — were twice the combined earnings of all full-time minimum-wage workers in the US.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home