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Capitalism is destroying Christianity

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Post 02 Nov 2013, 15:13
I was flipping through the channels this morning and came upon a reality TV show called "Preachers of L.A." While many may dismiss it as just another silly reality TV show, it actually reveals a more sinister phenomenon in American Christianity, namely the “prosperity gospel” or “prosperity theology” which is a mix of Pentecostalism, hyper-capitalism, and conspicuous consumption.

Here is a link to a good article about the show:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... ology.html

While I know that many, if not most, comrades on this forum are probably not religious I still think it must be said that this is a disgusting perversion of the message of Jesus Christ and one that is directly related to the kind of culture encouraged by modern capitalism.

I believe that under socialism this kind of heresy will become impossible and Christianity can return to its roots as a religion of the poor.
Post 02 Nov 2013, 17:24
No one wants to hear, "You're a sinner, repent!" or "Read the Bible and forgive your enemies." These shows like Preachers of L.A. give the people something that they want to hear. The shows are intertwined with the spirit of capitalism and probably never use any of the teachings of the Bible. If you've ever watched 10 minutes of Joel Osteen, all he talks about is having faith and how God will make you successful. Then he goes off giving examples of down and out business owners who had faith and are now successful.
Post 02 Nov 2013, 17:38
Soviet192491 wrote:
No one wants to hear, "You're a sinner, repent!" or "Read the Bible and forgive your enemies." These shows like Preachers of L.A. give the people something that they want to hear. The shows are intertwined with the spirit of capitalism and probably never use any of the teachings of the Bible. If you've ever watched 10 minutes of Joel Osteen, all he talks about is having faith and how God will make you successful. Then he goes off giving examples of down and out business owners who had faith and are now successful.


You are correct about the message being more easy to consume. Under capitalism religion becomes just another commodity. No more talk about "bearing your own Cross" and suffering. People don't want to hear that anymore, it seems.
Post 02 Nov 2013, 18:54
While these churches try to appeal to the masses, they only appeal to a small majority. They're just a business and can only run it in a certain area of the country. A mega church will never profit outside of the South despite its "American Dream" message. The South is where religious and American values are strongest as well as intertwined.

I wouldn't say that Capitalism is destroying Christianity, instead using it as a tool for profit. This isn't new. Nor would this lead to the destruction of Christianity as people look to different churches for faith and healing.
Post 02 Nov 2013, 21:19
Religion has never been destroyed by the spirit of capitalism, or exploitative commerce in any of its forms. Jesus certainly didn't destroy Judaism with his little episode in the temple (which, for all we know, may have been robbery, not protest).
Post 03 Nov 2013, 04:32
There have never been "a" Christianity, but rather, many subsequent Christianities that is molded by the ideology of the times.

The medieval, hierarchical christianity had very little to do with the sect of its founder, and the protestant versions that arose with capitalism have very little to do with either. Even catholicism was eroded by the protestant view and changed accordingly, like the tobacco-selling othrodox deplore in their writings.

As a religion, as something that binds, like the name implies, I would agree that it has been "destroyed" in the sense that it has been absorbed and incorporated into capitalism, much like any belief, activity or hobby comes entangled and defined by capitalism, since it creates a "neutral space" (the market) where all agents are inmobilized and have to act according to the Rule of Law, allowing only "inner" beliefs as hobbies. Christianity becomes no different from liking pictures of cats, or coin collecting. They are just different facebook fan pages.

What is not allowed is viscocity, the refusal to be disgregated and absorbed into the capitalist "tolerance" doctrine. This is where (many) socialist and other marginalized groups converge; even if they are looking "backwards", so to say, they are opponents of this Cartesian abstract space.

There are those, however, that tie Marxism to the Enlightenment tradition, and see the Rule of Law and the state as necessities...I'm not convinced of this.
Post 03 Nov 2013, 05:06
praxicoide wrote:
There have never been "a" Christianity, but rather, many subsequent Christianities that is molded by the ideology of the times.

The fact that these various Christianities can be molded and shaped to fit the ideology of the times is proof enough (for me, at least) that there is a basic memetic structure which can be fitted for service under practically any social, political, or economic conditions. Thus, one basic "one size fits all" Christianity.
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As a religion, as something that binds, like the name implies, I would agree that it has been "destroyed" in the sense that it has been absorbed and incorporated into capitalism, much like any belief, activity or hobby comes entangled and defined by capitalism, since it creates a "neutral space" (the market) where all agents are inmobilized and have to act according to the Rule of Law, allowing only "inner" beliefs as hobbies.

But this "tolerance" of religion didn't begin with the advent of capitalism. Religion in "pagan" Roman times was an extremely ecumenical and inclusive affair, probably the high point of religious tolerance in world history. All one had to do was make a sacrifice to the present Emperor, as witnessed by some minor state official, and you could go on to worship whatever god or pantheon of gods that interested you. Meanwhile, in the course of your other daily activities, the Roman "Rule of Law" prevailed.
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Christianity becomes no different from liking pictures of cats, or coin collecting. They are just different facebook fan pages.

I can't see how this situation would be essentially different in a truly democratic and Socialist society.
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What is not allowed is viscocity, the refusal to be disgregated and absorbed into the capitalist "tolerance" doctrine. This is where (many) socialist and other marginalized groups converge; even if they are looking "backwards", so to say, they are opponents of this Cartesian abstract space.

The only religious tradition I can think of that would presently fail this test is radical Islamism. Even radical Christian hermitism or monasticism has been safely contained through the granting of lands to the Church that are specifically set aside to satisfy the needs of these social delinquents.

As for Socialists, I would say that the immediate objective for most of us is not to thoroughly redefine the Rule of Law in all of its aspects in one fell swoop. The goal is to break the monopoly of capital, and end the age of imperialism (by destroying the economic and political underpinnings which render it inevitable).
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There are those, however, that tie Marxism to the Enlightenment tradition, and see the Rule of Law and the state as necessities...I'm not convinced of this.

I would sooner tie Marxism to the Enlightenment tradition than the Romantic one, or to the Judaic Maccabean tradition, as your average fascist or even Bertrand Russell would quickly do.
Post 04 Nov 2013, 06:29
Comrade Gulper wrote:
The fact that these various Christianities can be molded and shaped to fit the ideology of the times is proof enough (for me, at least) that there is a basic memetic structure which can be fitted for service under practically any social, political, or economic conditions. Thus, one basic "one size fits all" Christianity.


Well, yes, it is an ideological formation, after all. The same "ideals" can be molded into their exact opposites when it comes to actual practice.

Quote:
But this "tolerance" of religion didn't begin with the advent of capitalism. Religion in "pagan" Roman times was an extremely ecumenical and inclusive affair, probably the high point of religious tolerance in world history. All one had to do was make a sacrifice to the present Emperor, as witnessed by some minor state official, and you could go on to worship whatever god or pantheon of gods that interested you. Meanwhile, in the course of your other daily activities, the Roman "Rule of Law" prevailed.


Yes, you are absolutely right, things are not as simple. We could say that the "agora" (market) has historically created their neutral grounds where customs have to be curtailed, to a degree. Still, the Romans hardly had a "rule of law" to the degree the liberal states born out of the bourgeois revolutions created. In terms of religion, they allowed people to be stoned over different stuff or the establishment of whatever taboos, as long as they didn't interfere with their own affairs, which in some regions, were marginal. Even if they did assimilate large portions of their colonies, it wasn't their intetion to do so.

The bourgeois project, however, necessitates the establishment of a "panopticon", of a single point of view that extends the market to all aspects of life.

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(on religions become facebook fan pages): I can't see how this situation would be essentially different in a truly democratic and Socialist society.


Because it assumes that people will be organized everywhere the same way; I'm not ready to make that assumption.

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The only religious tradition I can think of that would presently fail this test is radical Islamism. Even radical Christian hermitism or monasticism has been safely contained through the granting of lands to the Church that are specifically set aside to satisfy the needs of these social delinquents.


Agreed absolutely, but these are ideological formations; given leeway, they will morph into something different, even currently pacified beliefs.

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As for Socialists, I would say that the immediate objective for most of us is not to thoroughly redefine the Rule of Law in all of its aspects in one fell swoop. The goal is to break the monopoly of capital, and end the age of imperialism (by destroying the economic and political underpinnings which render it inevitable).


Indeed. It will inevitably become a pressing concern, though, the constituting power vs the constituted order and things of the kind. It will be quite the debate, as it was in the USSR with Pachukanis et al.

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I would sooner tie Marxism to the Enlightenment tradition than the Romantic one, or to the Judaic Maccabean tradition, as your average fascist or even Bertrand Russell would quickly do.


It's not a matter of wanting, but of theory, though. I'm sure you can construct, and indeed it has been constructed, a Marxism that drinks from the Enlightenment fountain, but I would say that this is a tainted Marxism, because Marxism is above all a critique, and it will gnaw away the liberal assumptions on which the idea of a Cartesian netural space with universal laws is set on.
Post 04 Nov 2013, 09:18
Quote:
I'm sure you can construct, and indeed it has been constructed, a Marxism that drinks from the Enlightenment fountain, but I would say that this is a tainted Marxism, because Marxism is above all a critique


But so was the enlightenment. I think it's fair to say that Marxism is just a further step on that road from idealist servility to materialist freedom.
Post 04 Nov 2013, 09:32
It is very interesting talking to those who call themselves conservatives but who advocate a free market system that promotes all the vices and degeneracy that Christianity opposes. They claim to support "traditional values" but do nothing to ensure that these are upheld. If they were really serious about preserving "traditional values" and upholding Christianity they would not promote a system which leads to such excesses of consumerism, materialism and individualism. Whenever conservatives are in power in an English speaking country at least, they never do anything to make the society more conservative. All they do is cut government spending and privatise things. It appears to me that capitalist conservatives' commitment to Christianity is lukewarm. The free market is the opposite of a traditional society. Liberal economics and capitalism arose within modernity and were not welcomed so easily by the traditional bases of authority.
Post 04 Nov 2013, 09:43
Mabool wrote:
But so was the enlightenment. I think it's fair to say that Marxism is just a further step on that road from idealist servility to materialist freedom.


Yes and no.

Yes, it doesn't spring out of thin air, so of course it is endebted to what came before it.

But, the Enilghtenment is ideological in that it does not see that is a limted and historical point of view (that of the aspiring bourgeoisie, and which became naive and flawed the minute they took power), while Marxism is aware of it's historical horizon (critique of capitalism) and of the interests that move it (the proletariat view). It establishes a link to its object (it generates a knowledge), but overflowing it, are the considerations regarding the link established (a critique of this knowledge). It is aware of the relation, as something historical and finite.

What this means is that is is more than just another quantitative step forward. There's a qualitative change from the power-speaches that have come before (or since, mostly).

Also, we can say a lot of things and present a lot of neat historical progressions, but these linear expositions would ultimately be trivial, it would be our metaphysics or teleology of history, taken from whatever your favorite abstraction is, steamrolled on top of the class struggle that made history what it is.

EDIT:
I know these considerations probably aren't that important in places like the US and Europe, but Marxism has been demonized a lot in Latin America by tying it to the Enlightenment and it's linear progression ideals.
Post 04 Nov 2013, 11:36
Political Interest wrote:
It is very interesting talking to those who call themselves conservatives but who advocate a free market system that promotes all the vices and degeneracy that Christianity opposes.

Western conservatives of the Tory and Republican stamp are "conservatives" within the paradigm of capitalism, in the same way that Brezhnev and Andropov were conservatives within the socialist paradigm. This doesn't diminish the fact that Mitt Romney and his ilk would certainly be considered "radicals" by the standards of the previous society and its supporters, who in turn would be "radicals" against the society that preceded them.

praxicoide wrote:
But, the Enilghtenment is ideological in that it does not see that is a limted and historical point of view (that of the aspiring bourgeoisie, and which became naive and flawed the minute they took power), while Marxism is aware of it's historical horizon (critique of capitalism) and of the interests that move it (the proletariat view).

But we aren't contemporaries to Newton, Locke, and Malthus. I would venture to say that the minds of the Enlightenment were very conscious of their historical horizon, which represented nothing less (to them) than the final triumph of rationalism, the scientific method, and the defeat of superstition. Naturally, the mass of the proletariat were never included in their plans, but since when had they or their forefathers in the medieval and classical periods had any use for the great majority of people, except as tools, sacrifices, and useful idiots?
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It establishes a link to its object (it generates a knowledge), but overflowing it, are the considerations regarding the link established (a critique of this knowledge). It is aware of the relation, as something historical and finite.

Only to the extent that it can vanquish and banish, once and for all, the Great Man theory. Once the myth of the Pioneering Individual is abolished, the need for rigid statism and the dictatorship of the proletariat also ebbs away. But this is a matter for many decades, if not several centuries. So, yes, Socialism is aware of its own eventual obsolescence. But this obsolescence won't be an impending factor in any of our lifetimes.
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Also, we can say a lot of things and present a lot of neat historical progressions, but these linear expositions would ultimately be trivial, it would be our metaphysics or teleology of history, taken from whatever your favorite abstraction is, steamrolled on top of the class struggle that made history what it is.

Well, without a way to see directly into the future a la Nostradamus, we can only predict and diagnose based on what we know of the past and present. There's a reason why any future socialist America would be a vastly different place than the Soviet Union of 1917.
Quote:
I know these considerations probably aren't that important in places like the US and Europe, but Marxism has been demonized a lot in Latin America by tying it to the Enlightenment and it's linear progression ideals.

This is interesting. How so? Do they consider the Enlightenment a merely English development? What about the Renaissance?
Post 04 Nov 2013, 11:47
Piccolo wrote:
I was flipping through the channels this morning and came upon a reality TV show called "Preachers of L.A." While many may dismiss it as just another silly reality TV show, it actually reveals a more sinister phenomenon in American Christianity, namely the “prosperity gospel” or “prosperity theology” which is a mix of Pentecostalism, hyper-capitalism, and conspicuous consumption.

Here is a link to a good article about the show:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... ology.html

While I know that many, if not most, comrades on this forum are probably not religious I still think it must be said that this is a disgusting perversion of the message of Jesus Christ and one that is directly related to the kind of culture encouraged by modern capitalism.

I believe that under socialism this kind of heresy will become impossible and Christianity can return to its roots as a religion of the poor.


Reflections on Churches’ Witnessing with Human Rights Victims

Rev. Kyoung Gyun Han
Asian Ministries Coordinator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ)

November 4, 2013
At the time I was based in the Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in the Philippines, local villagers including indigenous people who resisted mining operations and militarization have been forcibly displaced from their communities.

The seminary served as sanctuary for the refugees, despite the threat of harassment and intimidation by state security forces. For the students’ theological training, they were encouraged to be aware of the plight of the poor and marginalized sectors, especially the victims of human rights atrocities.

I believe the UTS support for the refugees is one good example of church solidarity with the victims of injustice. Walking and working with the poor is not optional. It is in fact, a basic role and sacred duty of the church.

Prophetic Voices Silenced


During my ministry in the Philippines I have personally met some of the clergy and lay church workers whose lives were brutally taken as they were known to be outspoken critics of government corruption and human rights abuses.

One of them was The Most Rev. Alberto Ramento, Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, an active supporter of striking sugarworkers of Hacienda Luisita. He was not only a Bishop of the Church – he was a dearly beloved Bishop of the Poor. Assassins broke through the rectory where Bishop Ramento was staying at around 4:00 am of October 03, 2006 in the Parish of San Sebastian, Tarlac City. He was awakened in his sleep when the assassins had entered his room and stabbed him seven times to death.

Hacienda Luisita is one of the country’s biggest land monopoly controlled by the Cojuangco-Aquino clan. Bishop Ramento was added to the long list of poor peasants and genuine land reform advocates who were brutally silenced by those who are determined to maintain their excessive wealth at the expense of the poor.

Global Voices Denounce Incessant Killings


As hundreds of Filipinos became victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, my co-workers in the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) along with other member-churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed indignation over the Philippines human rights crisis.

As current Asian Ministries Coordinator of Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), I was invited to attend the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) last July in Manila through the support of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA). I was very happy for the chance to return to my second home, where I spent more than 7 years of ministry in Southern Luzon, one of the regions with the highest number of documented rights abuses.

It was a big conference of over 200 people from around the globe. It is such an honour to be part of a global network including churches actively supporting the Filipino people’s quest for justice and peace. The ICHRPP deplored the fact that far from his 2010 election promise to deliver justice for human rights victims of past regimes, Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino’s 3-year administration now holds a record of ZERO conviction of perpetrators of rights abuses and added more victims: 142 extra-judicial killings, 540 illegal arrests, 76 cases of torture, 30, 678 forced evacuations, 31,417 cases of threats/harassment/intimidation, and 27,029 cases of use of schools, medical, religious and other public places.

NZ Churches in Solidarity with Philippines


The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) was born out of the conference which I attended in Manila.

Coming back to New Zealand, I pledged to watch out Philippine situation, engage in solidarity action and strengthen migrants’ ministry particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, where hundreds of Filipinos are coming over for project rebuild. Our efforts to support the clamor for justice and peace in the Philippines include the following actions:

On 19th August, Rev. Stuart Vogel and I joined the Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) in making paper cranes (Japanese origami) in support of the campaign to Surface James Balao and all victims of enforced disappearances. Based on the ancient Japanese legend that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, we expressed support for all the families awaiting the return of their loved ones who have been abducted by state agents.
On 5th September we sent a joint PCANZ-Methodist letter of concern to the Philippine Embassy regarding the harassment of another pastor of our partner, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), among other persistent rights abuses under the Aquino presidency. We also highlighted call urging the Government of the Philippines to immediately resume formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
On 17th October, marking two years since the killing of Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio, PIME, we gathered at St John's Presbyterian Church to remember the martyrdom and lighted candles for justice for Fr. Pops. Rev. Prince Devanandan of the NZ Methodist Church shared his reflection, “We live today in a world where money has become more important than human life. The military in the Philippines and many countries controlled by the multinationals are only taught to kill those who resist injustice, but not taught to respect human life and dignity.”

In support of the goals of the ICHRP, I vow to hold the Filipino people always in our prayers, and hope to engage more New Zealanders in global ecumenical solidarity actions for justice and peace in the Philippines.

cafca@cyberxpress.co.nz
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Hope of interest Piccolo. Many christians here are prepared to step up to the mark. They are neither waiting socialism or a thunderbolt from heaven to help the poor.
Post 05 Nov 2013, 06:22
Comrade Gulper wrote:
Western conservatives of the Tory and Republican stamp are "conservatives" within the paradigm of capitalism, in the same way that Brezhnev and Andropov were conservatives within the socialist paradigm. This doesn't diminish the fact that Mitt Romney and his ilk would certainly be considered "radicals" by the standards of the previous society and its supporters, who in turn would be "radicals" against the society that preceded them.


Dualism is a gravedigger for religion, in that in nominally separating the spiritual and placing it "above" the temporal, they have given the latter free reign on eartlhy afairs, which ultimately lead away from this nominally higher spiritual sphere.

From here you get the transition from spirituality as a path, as doing that will take you to the appropriate perspective to perceive truth, to truth as something self-evident, rendering the doing superfluous, only needing the thinking.

Quote:
But we aren't contemporaries to Newton, Locke, and Malthus. I would venture to say that the minds of the Enlightenment were very conscious of their historical horizon, which represented nothing less (to them) than the final triumph of rationalism, the scientific method, and the defeat of superstition. Naturally, the mass of the proletariat were never included in their plans, but since when had they or their forefathers in the medieval and classical periods had any use for the great majority of people, except as tools, sacrifices, and useful idiots?


Many subsequent systems of ideas have set themselves on the pinnacle of a long progression that becomes the prelude to their great ideas. In this they weren't much different; they saw themselves as continuators of the greek tradition, with the added advantage of science. Their enemy was scholasticism, but they never saw the class character of their view, the one-sidedness of it, the huge philosophical flaws thei incurred. In this they are different from Marxism, which is aware of its own class character, and which always has to examine itself, not just in its system of ideas, but on the base which gives birth to the perspective that puts these in place.

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Only to the extent that it can vanquish and banish, once and for all, the Great Man theory. Once the myth of the Pioneering Individual is abolished, the need for rigid statism and the dictatorship of the proletariat also ebbs away. But this is a matter for many decades, if not several centuries. So, yes, Socialism is aware of its own eventual obsolescence. But this obsolescence won't be an impending factor in any of our lifetimes.


The point is that as production relations change, so will our ideas, and so will Marxism.

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Well, without a way to see directly into the future a la Nostradamus, we can only predict and diagnose based on what we know of the past and present. There's a reason why any future socialist America would be a vastly different place than the Soviet Union of 1917.


I was saying that any view that reduces history as a path from x to y is superficial and reeks of teleology.

Quote:
This is interesting. How so? Do they consider the Enlightenment a merely English development? What about the Renaissance?


It's a European imposition of their truths and realities, and the dogma that indigenous people have to become civilized and conform to this standard and that countries need capitalist development and so on.

It's... problematic. I'm not saying that these things are all wrong, but the debate starts from the wrong place...ideological assumpions.
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