- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Lark on November 19, 1999 at 11:02:20:

In Reply to: Puritans posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on November 18, 1999 at 21:31:52:

: New Testament, absolutely. There is some stuff in the Old Testament which kind of troubles me, though. i was talking with a Christian evangelical friend of mine last night and he gave me a very unsatisfactory answer as to why Leviticus, for example, sanctions slavery. He said essentially that God knew the isrealites weren't eprfect, so he made a deal with them- they got to keep slavery and other social vices as long as they toed the moral line in other depratments. I don't relally believe that. My take on this is more that divine revelations, if and when they occured, have usually been filtered through the human recipients of said revelation. (Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and other figures may be exceptions here). I don't find it unlikeley that the ancient Hebrews, if God spoke to them, might have been unable to u nderstand or accept the full weight of the revelation. They might well have been unable to overcome their prejudices, predisposistions and cultural conditioning and report the revelation in full acciracy. This seems to me a handy hypothesis,m it would immediately explain why the Old Testament seems to sanction slavery, incest, massacres of civilians and other atrocities. bear in mind I'm ONLY speaking about the Old Testament right now. I think the NT is great and incredibly uplifting and demanding.

Oh, speak about the entire text because this is the story all the way through, if you look at the commandments and their relationship towards coveting and killing etc. then the Hebrews where definitely in the wrong in these instance but then are modern christians militant communists? I know I'd even have difficulties in the very literal communism of Christ with some of my neighbours, so it's just a case of being well flawed and far from faultless.

: Indeed, or "Love your neighbor", including all humanity as your neighbor, as Jesus showed by teh subsequent parable.

So we have the ultra important humanist dimension ignored by most established religions, churches, states, communities and individuals.

: Yes. Pope John XXIII, i thoink, had it right. And so did Graham Greene, when he suggested that Pope John XXIII more than made up for everything Torquemada and the Inquixsistion ever did.

Tell me a bit more about this NJ because, for a supposed active catholic, I'm hopelessly ignorant of this dimension although at present I'm reading Taoism....

: yes, it's hard to see how Jesus could be misinterpreted in this way, when the Argentines tried to do it in the '80s theygot into all kinds of logical absurdieties, arguing for exampel the the 'poor in spirit' was shorthand for 'the rich', so priests should ignore the poor and minister to the rich. I'm not making this up.

Oh yeah, I'm aware of this, did you hear about the expulsions and excommunications of some of the key Liberation Theologians, including non-marxist Liberation Theologians, first time the church had behaved like that since the reformation.

: Well, I don't agree. I think you're tarring socialists with a broad brush. Socialism is an economic / social/ humanitarian doctrine, not a metaphysical one. There have been a deeply devout Ernesto Cardenal, a Thomas More, and a Julius Nyerere for every Karl Marx drning on about the opiate of the masses. And just incidentally, let's parse that famous Marxist saying itself. Is it necessarily a condmenation of religion? No; I take it to mean that religion, like opium, offers a salve for teh pains of the world. That is very far from the only purpose of religion, but it is ONE purpose, therefore the Marxist saying can be accepted as literally correct. It is not, in itself implying that religion is false, nor that it has pernicious effects. Though marx may himself have believed it, active opposistions to religion was most definitely NOT a major part of his agenda. that was largely the work of those notrouious Russian nuts, Lenin and Trotsky.
: As Graham Greene's Doctor Magiot points out, "Opium, remember, is used in medicine. I'm not against opium. Certainly I'm not against [religion]."
: Marx was also agaisnt the closing of British Catholic monasteries by Henry VIII. And of course there were plenty of religious communist movements, especially in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil, tanzania, and Zambia. There were also non-Christian religious socialists,for example U Nu in Burma and Gandhi in India.

I agree, again, NJ I like the opium argument a lot but when you consider, as I do, socialism to be concerned with human freedom, full stop, then it has to be institutionally etc. secularist, or egalitarian about all faiths.

My dimension is let your life be devoted to socialism/human freedom and your by whatever, EG islam, christianity, hinduism, rationalism, dieism, zoroastarianism, humanism, judaism etc.

: Amen! There is nothing wrong with USIng what's IN THE BIBLE to support socialism. teh words are tehre, we aren't adding extraneous things or twsiting their meaning. We aren't the ones saying 'poor in spirit' = 'rich'.


: Well, I don't knwo about acheiving 'deity' status. it's complicated there because hindu theology recognizes the seed of God in all of us, tehrefore we are lal in some regard partially divine (alkthough different qualitatively from God). Hence, to say taht one perosn is a 'deity' uniquely doens't have much meaning in Hindusim. However i see your point. Incidnetally, soem Hindus accept Jesus Christ as an incarnation of God, one of 10 incarnations.

A good quote from Ghandi 'I like your Christ, I dont like your Christians'

: This is off the teopic Lark but remember when I threw out a silly Durkheim quote and the Honorable Joel jacobson thoght it was you, and went on for weeks about you relying on authority?

Yeah, strange isnt it when the 'anarchists' (I'm not sure if Joel qualifies) call you authoritarian and the 'scientists' call you anarchist?

: yes, I like taht distinction betwen productive and personal property.

Real property, personal property or possessions, dont impinge upon others lives, I mean my books dont harm anyone unless I throw them like a brick or something but commodities like ten million varieties of dog food, when people can find food to eat elsewhere? Land is the operative question maybe but generally it's not property but wealth that is enamy in the new corporate middle class era, the landed gentry is all but dead.

: But they did have slaves, just liek ancient Greece, that hotbed of reaction...

I know but not in the same extent as the pharaohs, at least I dont think so, I hope I'm not wrong, if they where anything like the Irish definition of slave, that was someone who through surrendering in battle or whatever became the servant of a rival community, it was more like modern day worker than slave.

: I really liked the post in general Lark.Great evvidnec there. My hoe state was founded by devout Christians (the Puritans) who held land in common, established price controls, and invented the concept of public schooling, so it amuses me to see people trying to paint Christianity as a conservative creed.

It doesnt amuse me, nothing riles me more and I see it in my own church when people want to talk at length about the sin of homosexuality, I thought we wherent meant to judge?, when more important things, like the fact that we continually say 'let it be done on earth as it is in heaven but never really mean it', are just ignored.

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