rant0004.txt

There is no American flag in heaven.

Whether you believe in heaven or not, there is still no American flag there. God is not an American, and neither is Jesus. I state this in a position contrary to one seemingly adopted by hard-right conservative Christian ideologues.

Neither God nor Jesus has signed any sort of trade deal, mutual defense pact, or even a treaty of goodwill with the USA. God, therefore, is not on our side. He’s on His own side and those who are not with Him are against Him.

Who is against Him? Jesus said one cannot serve both God and Mammon. Mammon is the Hebrew word for money, not some arcane Philistine deity. Mammon is money. Money is the world made to go ’round by money. Money is not love – it is cruelty, it is interest rates, it is moral hazard, it is corruption, it is that, when loved by man, becomes the root of all evil. To say otherwise is to lie.

You pick one to serve, and the government of America has chosen to serve money. The hard-right conservative so-called Christian ideologues have chosen to serve money. The Democrats have chosen, ultimately, to serve money. We have what we have: a nation in which the ability of the rich men to trample the poor is taken for granted, with the argument over a few small points leading to ideological chasms between the leaders.

Should we punish the poor with more taxes or with turning them out into the wilderness when they are destitute, or some combination of the two? That is the debate among the leaders of America. Right now, the strongest demands to turn out the poor and cut all support for them are emanating from the so-called Christian conservatives.

They do not put forward beliefs guided by the teachings of Christ, but beliefs based upon the perversion of the words of but one key Christian preacher. Jean Calvin once wrote in private that, perhaps, some argument could be wrought to justify interest charges on lent money. That phrase of his has been seized upon by the money-lovers and used to justify the creation of vast banks that themselves serve to move money from the poor to the rich.

Calvin’s comment came reluctantly, and he told his friend not to mention it to others. Calvin made his logical twist through reasoning and human assumptions, rather than through an appeal to scripture. It was his own philosophy, not a teaching of Christ’s or God’s.

Since the hijacking of Calvin, a strain of Protestantism has emphasized an idea that God shows his favor to men through material wealth on the earth. Again, that was an invention of men built upon an invention of men. It is false religion, but it serves as the base of inspiration for an American brand of Christianity that has been warped to serve money.

Christ taught men to take only what they needed and to share everything they had. He told rich men that they could not go to heaven. When he talked about moving a camel through the eye of a needle, there was no gate anywhere in the world called “the eye of the needle” or anything like that. Christ meant that the rich had the same chance of getting into heaven as moving a great big camel through an itty bitty needle eye: ZERO.

Why the zero chance? They had chosen to love money instead of loving God, who is love, unconditionally. When the rich young man asked Christ if there was anything else he needed to do to win eternal bliss, Christ told him to give all that he had to the poor. That wasn’t a command to just that one man: it was an instruction to everyone. You have to let go of your attachments to money if you want to go to heaven. Like the US flag, there is no money in heaven.

When I make this argument, one of the first responses I typically get is, “Well, have YOU given everything you have to the poor?” That’s not a valid defense for someone that has transgressed the law of compassion. “Everyone else is doing it!” is never a valid defense. It avoids responsibility – which is exactly what money-lovers seek to do. Theirs is an evil craft, and self-examination results in confronting a gaping hole in their selves where a soul and a conscience used to exist.

Consider Rupert Murdoch. The man held powerful sway over all his holdings. He was no incompetent fool, unaware of what his underlings were up to. Yet, when revelations emerged that his employees had tortured the parents of a murdered child, he claimed great gulfs of distance existed between him and his disparate fiefs. He then expanded his defense to point at all the political higher-ups that must have also known if he knew as well, so as to say that either the buck stopped just before him or that it proceeded beyond him. Murdoch is saying he is innocent, or, if guilty, he’s dragging entire governments down to hell with him.

What made him and his corporate followers do these great evils? Money. What makes him squirm and attempt to evade justice? Money. Power goes with money, so they are one and the same. Money.

Governments in the EU and USA are squirming like Murdoch right now, all over money. None are yet willing to do as Solon of old did: repudiate debt and forbid the charging of interest. Solon did that in his Athens to eliminate the oppression of the poor and to create a just society.

The governments in the EU and USA, however, depend upon the machinery of money and interest rates to fuel their own ambitions and to secure their powers. The men in government have a love for money that must exist if they are to be in government. One cannot hold elected office without winning an election, and the monied interests have made sure that one cannot win an election without first loving money.

Once elected, the typical US congressman or senator has to spend at least half of his time in fundraising events with an eye towards re-election. That’s half of his waking hours devoted to groveling at the feet of those richer than he, be they individuals or be they PACs. That is a devotion to money that few can afford. The far-right so-called Christian conservatives are no exception to this rule.

I put forward the idea that salvation for America’s ills will not be found in a crowd of people that claim to follow Christ, but who reject His teachings with their actions and conduct. They seem to believe there is an American flag that waves over the streets of heaven and that there will be money for all the righteous there, presumably off of exploiting markets and resources in hell. For this crowd, the rich are heaven-bound, so their needs must be catered to on this sphere.

Jesus taught that one must forgive debts, not raise interest rates. He taught that the rich must give liberally to the poor, not the other way around. A true Christian political movement would reflect those ideals.

3 thoughts on “rant0004.txt

  1. Dave Florea

    You’re right in several respects, Dean — particularly re: how the election process has become corrupted by ‘mammon’. The need for dollars to run an election is so great that by the time a candidate gets to office, his views are so fixed by his commitments that he is nearly unable to pay attention to the view of his constituents.

    I differ with you that Americans in general or Republicans in particular are dead set on taking moneys from the poor. I’m a conservative and what I object to is the government taking moneys from me at the point of a gun and giving it to someone else whom they deem needs it more than I do. Americans as a people are the most generous on earth. But they want to give it because they WANT to, not because the government has forced it out of them.

    I express no opinion on your rant about the injustice of interest rates, though interest on money lent is what makes the world resolve. At least in the short run, seems to me the inability to charge interest would be highly detrimental to the poor and middle class, who would suffer immensely because much of the commercial world would cease to function – i.e., no jobs for the masses.

  2. Dave Giroux

    While I agree that there is no American flag in heaven, I also believe that the principles that brought about the founding of the United States are ennobling, eternal truths, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, etc.” We have the establishment of the constitution (D & C 101:80). To the extent that Americans can facilitate more ennobling freedom for people in this country and people of the world, in principle, I have to say it’s a good thing. This does not refute anything you say in your first two paragraphs, but is an important nuance to consider.

    On to Calvin and interest rates. If we didn’t have interest rates, no one would have an incentive to lend money, and capitally funded investment could not work. Somehow the man in the parable of the talents was able to take 5 talents and obtain another 5 for the master. Who got the extra 5 talents and how was it made? We could get deeper into what constitutes usury, etc, the history of interest, the role of Jews, etc., but that’s for another day.

    According to what I read in scripture, there were rich men that somehow made it to heaven. I think Abraham (by all accounts I’ve seen a wealthy man) made it (mention of the bosom of Abraham). My interpretation is that no rich man can get to heaven because he is stripped from his wealth as he passes from the mortal world to the next in order to get there (you can’t take it with you). If I had followed better what my Church leaders warned me of (about debt, employment, etc.), I would be much wealthier now and in more of a position to be of service to others. I don’t think that my heaven worthiness would have been endangered by such a condition. I would be and certainly am responsible for the righteous use of the measure of wealth I’ve been granted.

    Our capitalistic world, for all its flaws, manages to feed more people, helps people to live longer lives, and provides better and less expensive communication than ever. It’s the capital markets, the exchange of money, goods, and resources, that have facilitated these great happenings in our lifetimes.

    I don’t have any problems with the rich giving to the poor. I think the argument is over how it should be done. In the Bible, the teachings of Jesus are that all should give, even the widow and her mite. But he did not urge the forcible confiscation of wealth to benefit others. He was never urging the tax collectors to take more so that they could distribute to others.

    Of course, just my opinions.

  3. deanwebb Post author

    Two Daves respond, so I’ll have to be more clever than saying “@Dave:”…

    @Dave F.: (Aha! Do you see what I did there?) I really do trust a rank-and-file conservative more than a member of the leadership. The leaders of the USA are all in the top 1% of Americans by wealth and income. That crowd ain’t generous. The generous people, by and large, aren’t in a position to grant massive boons to the nation.

    As for jobs for the masses – we don’t have those anymore. Unemployment is at 10% and will go up as the government either implements austerity (which will disproportionately affect the bottom 99% of Americans) or defaults (ditto).

    We send soldiers to go die in our wars. Most of them are poor. The money to fight those wars does not die. It is borrowed and then the poor of the nation pay that interest off every year. If we stopped borrowing money and instead took the money to fight wars directly from the rich and their corporations, every single US soldier would be home.

    @Dave G: As for the parable of the talents, the man with five was to labor with them, not lend them out. The servant with one talent was chastised not because he didn’t lend it out, but because he implied that his master (the Savior) was cruel, for he “reaped where he sowed not.” The master then replied, basically saying, “If I was so cruel, then I would be the type to break your kneecaps for not giving me a gain, even an unrighteous one from moneylenders.”

    If we had no financial incentive to lend money, we’d only have compassionate incentives to do so. That was the law given to Moses, and we’re supposed to live a higher law as followers of Jesus. Granted, the world around us is so pervaded with money and its influence that we cannot hardly conceive of a world in which we do not see the lending of money with interest charges, yet a world once existed like that.

    God is merciful: we all make mistakes. The question put to us, though, is this: when we are in a position to do good knowingly, do we do it? Do we let the pure love of Christ – charity – guide our actions? Do we forgive our debtors, that God might forgive our debts? Do we maneuver to gain unfair advantage over others, or do we work to the betterment of our neighbors? We’re tested on what we know, which is fair.

    I think our capitalistic world is turning on us in a way we did not expect. It is a creation of man, and is subject to corruption. I do know rich men that do give generously to the poor, and, yes, it must be voluntary. The problem we have as a nation is that fewer people with the means to give generously are truly doing so. The poor not only bear the greatest percentage burden of taxation, but also give the greatest percentage of their incomes in charity.

    As a nation, we shared much more in our common benefits in the 50s and 60s than we do today. We also had more laws in place that limited the activities of the great banks and investment houses. Those regulations suspended the cycle of boom, mania, panic, and bust that had caused numerous depressions in America’s past. When those laws were relaxed, we returned to the booms and busts – with the busted up “too big to fail” entities having their losses covered by us truly.

    When the society divides and the rich oppress the poor, a day of sad reckoning is not far off.

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