Posts Tagged ‘Capital

21
Jul
09

Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 1)

Illusion that Numbs 

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”[i]Karl Marx, On Religion

Karl Marx has long been considered an absolute critic of religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Parts of the above quote are often used by Christians and non-Christians alike to fully express Marx’s attitude, but rarely are these snippets used within the full context of this excerpt. While this passage is, indeed, criticism it does not represent the scathing and total rejection of the value of religion that many people would have us believe. “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature” does not convey the full meaning of the sentence within which it is contained, and it is rarely connected in context with the remainder, “the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation.” Marx’s stance is, I believe, more correctly interpreted as a critique of society that has become heartless and spiritless – one in which, however ineffective it may be, religion attempted to be society’s missing heart and provide some hope for those in need. Continue reading ‘Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 1)’

30
Jun
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 1)

Economic theology, or the place where economics and theology collide, is a favorite topic of mine. It is sometimes cumbersome, as it is an odd mix of subjects. This is an essay from 2005 that seems like it fits the times in so many ways. I may edit it as time permits, but offer it up for your thoughts.

GLOBALIZATION – THE THREAT

One of the primary characteristics of liberation theology is contextuality – the manner in which each specifically incorporates or combats the traditions, experiences, myths, histories and, of course, resulting worldviews of the populations for whom it is developed. Without the specificity of each theology to its beneficiaries, it would remain as foreign as the colonial or imperial theology whose cultural impact it is generally seeking to mitigate. The point of liberation theology is not simply to provide a theological framework within which each population could find its own liberating thought and belief, although undoubtedly a critical first step, but also to free them from the rampant marginalization, oppression and poverty under which they continue to live. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 1)’

08
Jun
09

The Economy of God

BUMP – Just because I like this one.

Having accepted the challenge to discuss economic theology with a Presbyterian session of a large metropolitan church, and having overheard in conversation the “ideal” minister being described as a “CEO” type, I began with a simple exercise – one I had presented several times before to different audiences. The exercise takes advantage of the preponderance of business language and processes being used by sessions and boards of religious institutions.

Continue reading ‘The Economy of God’

07
May
09

Prayer For a Caring Community

Bumped

A PRAYER FOR CARING COMMUNITY

(adapted from the Ten Commandments)

 Save your people, God who is our God:

From not loving you as we should;

From the worship of the gods of material wealth and comfort;

Continue reading ‘Prayer For a Caring Community’

20
Apr
09

Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”

The adherents of Christian religions include upwards of 2 billion people – almost one-third of the world’s population, according to David Barrett, an Evangelical Christian who is the compiler of religious statistics for the Encyclopedia Britannica.[1] While Christianity began in the Middle East, it is generally considered a European/American religion. Those areas, however, do not encompass the majority of adherents. More Christians, in fact, are found in the “third world” – those areas that were formerly colonized by various European powers.  The story of the spread of the world’s most prolific religion during the second millennia of Christianity is at least interesting, if not informative of the current political and military efforts of the West, most notably the U.S., seemingly aimed at making converts of another sort – disciples of Western democracy and capitalism. Continue reading ‘Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”’

28
Mar
09

God’s Economy

Having accepted the challenge to discuss economic theology with a Presbyterian session of a large metropolitan church, and having overheard in conversation the “ideal” minister being described as a “CEO” type, I began with a simple exercise – one I had presented several times before to different audiences. The exercise takes advantage of the preponderance of business language and processes being used by sessions and boards of religious institutions.

Continue reading ‘God’s Economy’

23
Mar
09

Religions Put Emphasis on Least Theological Issues

Theologically speaking, God can be found in all situations. In even the most heinous of events, we can trust God to be at least suffering with those who suffer, mourning with those who mourn and crying with those who cry. So even in this trying economic time, we can envision God’s concern for those who are worst hit by our unfolding system of commerce – the worst hit, of course, being the poorest of the poor and not particularly those whose fortune may have been trimmed by a few billion. Given this, I find interesting the results of a Pew Forum survey of religious people in which they were asked where President Obama and the legislature should concentrate their efforts. Additionally interesting, although I have yet to find an explanation, is the fact that the categories include only white religious people. We are left to surmise the purpose of that decision.

pew623

Continue reading ‘Religions Put Emphasis on Least Theological Issues’

01
Feb
09

Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 3)

Moving Towards the Reality of Empowered People …

Marx conceived of a day when the disenfranchised proletariat would rebel against the powerful gentry and communalize all real holdings. The intermediate step would require a socialist structure, before the final step to communism would be possible. The leaders of this nation would be accountable to the proletariat, operating purely in the collective best interest of the larger community and the resulting government would be very democratic. In the instances where Marxism has been exercised to any degree, virtually the opposite has occurred. In the end, a new bourgeoisie developed – an elite group of politically minded people living in stark contrast to the general populace – that was more oppressive than that which it replaced. Productivity in countries without private ownership decreased rather than increased. The result was squalor, hunger, poverty and disillusionment – the very conditions Marx wished to overcome. Continue reading ‘Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 3)’

01
Feb
09

Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 2)

Did Disillusion Foster More Illusions?

Criticizing Marx on particulars is relatively easy, especially since there has been a considerable expanse of time between his writings and the current social, economic and political climates. It becomes easier yet when using proof-texts upon which to base the critique, as opposed to performing a broad study of Marx’s ideas. The latter would obviously be outside the scope of this paper. While further criticisms will undoubtedly develop, it would be appropriate to concentrate largely on integrating the three subjects previously discussed into a dialogue that may be useful to the very people that Marx wrote against – capitalists and Christians. Continue reading ‘Marx on Religion & its Role in Oppression (Part 2)’

26
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 5

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

A LIBERATION THEOLOGY FOR THE “FIRST WORLD”

A major roadblock to a serious discussion of liberation theologies in dominant culture is the assertion that they are essentially Marxist in nature. This accusation has been proffered by not only “First World” governments, but by the Western churches including the Roman Catholic Church. Since explicating the philosophies of Marx is not the point of this paper, it will have to suffice to address the barest of arguments. First, the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, is somewhat irrational in its fear of Marxism. Marx was, first and foremost, a philosopher – albeit one who believed in praxis. The philosophy of Marx does not line up particularly well with what the West understands as Marxist politics, namely Communism as practiced in the 20th century: Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 5’

26
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 4

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

THE UNDEVELOPMENT OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD

The dominant U.S. theology of entitlement seems to conflict with not only liberation theologies, but most theologies that include political and social action as essential tenets. Such European notables in political theology as Jurgen Moltmann, Johannes Baptist Metz, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were joined by Reinhold Niebuhr and John Howard Yoder of the U.S. In his 1972 book The Politics of Jesus, Yoder detailed the biblical evidence which justified his belief, “Jesus is, according to the biblical witness, a model of radical political action …”[1] Disturbed by theological thought that separated Jesus from the political sphere, he attempted to prove that faithful Christian disciples should adopt Jesus’ political approach. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization – Part 4’

25
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 3)

Continued from here or go to Table of Contents.

USING THEOLOGY TO PROSPER

As in the U.S. women’s battle for the vote, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ‘end’ of apartheid in South Africa, to name a few momentous occasions in recent social history, change of this magnitude requires partners. In each of these instances of striving for justice, significant numbers of allies within the dominant Western cultures had to be enlisted. Men voted to recognize (not give) women’s right to vote; pressure on East Germany and South Africa from other countries seem to have played a substantial role in changes experienced in those areas. Allies, from within the U.S. and European cultures, are likely to be needed, in the long run, to aid in the battle against widespread impoverishment. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 3)’

24
Jan
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 2)

Continued from here or return to Table of Contents

THE ECONOMICS OF OPPRESSION

It may be, on one hand, quite right to point out that the general populations of these dominant cultures have neither made the decisions to dominate nor benefited directly in the economic spoils of domination. Actions empowered by monarchs and popes have been replaced by those instituted by presidents, prime ministers and corporate moguls. It may even be true that the portion of the U.S. or European populations that has profited the most is the elite – those with significant holdings of stocks, bonds and privilege.[1] While these things may be true, for the general population to claim no enrichment or complicity is to turn a blind eye to the obvious truths of economy and quality of life. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 2)’

23
Jan
09

Gillibrand to be New York Senator

Today, I received an e-mail communication from New York Pride Agenda announcing Governor Paterson’s appointment to fill the seat left open by Hillary Clinton. The announcement read: Continue reading ‘Gillibrand to be New York Senator’




... or, preaching from both ends

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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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