Christians who propose capitalism as a model economic system amaze me. If you are a Christian you try to follow Jesus, right? Did Jesus ever tell us how we are to live with one another in plain language? Yes, he did, in the Sermon on the Mount: love one another, love your enemies, do good to those who harm you, give to all who need, expecting nothing in return, judge no one, have mercy on all. I would hope that anyone who claims to follow Jesus would grant that his words here have as much authority as his more arcane parables or his apocalyptic sayings, the ones that divide people and for which we once, not so long ago, killed one another.
I am speaking of Christ’s simple instructions, a recipe for living in peace.
So then, just how does an economic system that is at its root a pitting of human against human, with each trying to take advantage of the other, one which is motivated by greed and the love of money – ‘a root of all evil’ according to St Paul- one which leaves in its wake the ‘creative destruction’ of ruined lives and cultures and landscapes, encapsulate the gospel?
It is no accident that that evil woman, Ayn Rand, loved capitalism. Or that Anton LeVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, thought his ‘philosophy’ indistinguishable from Rand’s, save the lack of ceremony among objectivists: Capitalism is the ethos of hell, the economics of Antichrist. It is the anti-Sermon on the Mount system, the one based on greed and selfishness.
Yes, I know, this is ‘utopian’, this measuring all things by the Perfect.
But do you understand that every time you pray the Our Father you are praying for utopia, for heaven on earth? Jesus taught us to pray for perfection: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
‘… on earth as it IS in Heaven’: on earth, here and now. Not in some distant dimension, not far away, but right here, right now, we can participate in Heaven, a present reality, which exists where God and compassion reign, wherever anyone is trying to love.
And he tells us to be perfect, as Our Father is perfect.
It’s okay to have high standards, to measure the world by utopian standards. Jesus told us to do so, and he taught us to pray for perfection.