So, I haven’t written in a while. There’s really no reason for that. I’ve been writing, just not online. But the other day, a Dave Ramsey video (linked above) in one of the Facebook groups I happen to belong to, caught my eye. I watched the video. In it, Ramsey makes a case for why capitalism is a better governmental system that socialism, never mind that these are both economic systems that aren’t systems of government in themselves. But I digress… The proceeds to make the claim that the reason capitalism works is because the United States and its economic policy are founded upon a core Christian ethic. I was raised in an environment where Christianity reigned supreme, I’m well aware of what the Christian ethic is supposed to be. But last night, as I was coming back from the laundromat, I saw to homeless people getting into a couple of sleeping bags at a crosswalk, presumably to settle in for the night. And I thought to myself… Surely, if this nation was founded upon a Christian ethic, and that is why capitalism works because the Christianity involved in that ethic keeps greed in check, there would be no homelessness. “I must have it wrong.” That’s what I was thinking to myself on the way home last night.
Maybe the things he thinks of as being the core of the Christian ethic are different from the things that I think are at its core. Things like love your neighbor as yourself, or the story of the widow who gave all she could while other people gave substantially more in terms of the amount of money, but not in terms of how much they were able to give. or maybe I misinterpreted the story of the good Samaritan. Or just maybe, I misunderstood the point of the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Wait a minute, that’s not what he’s talking about… Whether or not he chooses to say it out loud, people like Ramsey are espousing a form of Christianity that says if you work hard “in service of the Lord”, God will bless you. If you believe in that sort of thing, it is true… But you also have to remember the other side of the coin. If you visit someone while imprisoned, give food and shelter to the homeless, console the grieving of someone… You give that act to God. If you do none of those things, you give that to God also.
If you chastise someone and hold hatred in your heart during that chastisement, you give that to God. Here’s the funny thing about the Bible… With as many fantastic parables, Psalms, and other forms of universal lessons that are applicable to daily life… There are also stories of genocides, and trickery, usurping of birthright, and many other things that in the light of reason would normally be considered a crime. But because it is in the Bible, we tend to minimize those things because it is achieved historical status as one of the holiest and best-known books throughout the world. But we can’t forget the other side also, what I’m trying to say is this: it takes a human mind to make otherwise non-cohesive pieces of literature have cohesion of any sort. This is why I stopped reading it long ago, because I realized that everything I needed to know in order to try to live a good life as a good human being, I learned when I was a child.
I don’t go to church anymore. I haven’t for a long time… I’ve been afraid to call myself a Christian for a long time, because as far as my theology is concerned, I find a belief in God to be unnecessary. I do believe, however, that Jesus taught us everything we needed to know. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do so unto me.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Judge not lest ye be judged, for by the same measure which you judge others, so to you shall be judged.” I’m only saying these things to ask your question: if you’re an American, and you believe that this country was founded at its core on a Christian ethic, what sort of Christian ethic do you believe in? Is it one that believes in condemnation of people for circumstances beyond their control, without having any direct knowledge of the entirety of their situation? Or is it one that believes that we ought to love one another as much as humanly possible, perfecting that capacity throughout a single lifetime? Do you believe in a kind of Christian ethic that would allow you to truly love someone you size and outcast, as Jesus did on many occasions? Or do you see yourself is better than them for whatever reason? Are you the follower of a pastor who claims to know the Bible, or are you a follower of Christ? And if you are a follower of Christ, and if this country is truly founded on the Christian ethic, why is it that