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Posts Tagged ‘Rich

Poorer Voters Concerned with Economics not Religion until they Get a Bit Better Off

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Voter Turnout by Income

Analysis of voter presidential choice from two large surveys of voter choice and personal characteristics—from family income to race, gender and religious identity—allowed sociology professor, Thomas Hirschl, and statistics professor, James Booth, to identify the degree of polarization and its source in the population.

Hirschl said that upper income white Protestants, who believe the Bible is the literal word of God, have more than doubled their odds of voting Republican—from 2.7 GOP voters for every one Democratic voter in this group in 1980, to 6.1 for every one in 2008. Conversely, secularly minded, upper income white Protestants reversed their partisan preference, from 1.9 to 1 in favor of the Republican Party in 1980, to 2.2 to 1 in favor of the Democratics in 2008. A similar but nut less pronounced split happened among upper income white Catholics, albeit evident only in households that had a total income greater than $75,000 (2009) per year. Hirschl added:

There was no comparable trend among lower income white Protestants or Catholics. African-Americans remained loyal Democratic voters throughout the 28 year study period, regardless of their religious identity.

Rich and Poor States Voting

This study of three decades of voter choice has shown that the influence of religion on voter choice among upper income white Protestants and Catholics intensified in the years between the elections of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Barack Obama in 2008. It suggests that religious identity strongly motivates upper income white voters, but not African-Americans or lower income whites. Poor people are less concerned with religion and politics that the richer middle classes, remaining more loyal to the Democratic party as the party of economic reform.

The trouble is that the graphs shown here suggest that when poor people get even quite marginally better off they think they are rich, and a fair proportion of them start to vote, though they might not have before, and start to vote Republican. It ought not to require any great intelligence to see that very many so called “middle class” voters are actually poor, and fool no one but themselves by pretending they are on a par with Mitt Romney. The GOP has no inclination to wake them up while they are dreaming the American Dream.

Written by mikemagee

26 October, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Why Did the English Levellers Think the Bible was their Guide?

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Levellers Day: Still Celebrated

Prominent historian, Christopher Hill (The World Turned Upside Down, 1975), reports the words of a Leveller in Chelmsford, which show that English workers at the time of the English Revolution, around 1650, considered the Bible to have been a working man’s political, even revolutionary, handbook! The Levellers believed in the sovereignty of the people, were committed to religious toleration and wanted democratic control of the army through representatives called “Agitators”. He wrote:

The relation of master and servant has no ground in the New Testament. In Christ there is neither bond nor free. Ranks such as those of the peerage and gentry are ethnical and heathenish distinctions. There is no ground in nature or scripture why one man should have £1,000 per annum, another not a pound. The common people have been kept under blindness and ignorance and have remained servants and slaves to the nobility and gentry. But God hath now opened their eyes and discovered unto them their Christian liberty.

Sadly, now God has closed the eyes of millions of US Protestants, who think that the bible, far from favoring the poor, favors the megarich, while the poor deserve to be abandoned economically if not and physically mistreated—and so they vote Republican. The contrast between the actual practical morals of Christ, and this US version of Christianity, championing people abuse and oppression, has largely been brought about by right wing political schemers calling themselves pastors, for their own gain, and to confuse and disarm the poor. It has been done by telling believers:

  1. they need to interpret the bible in an absurdly complicated way for it to be read as inerrant, which they teach it necessarily is because it is God’s own work, and God cannot be wrong, and so it has to be read the way the pastors say!
  2. to direct their attention to Paul and away from Christ because the Jesus Christ of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, is perfectly easy to understand, and very pointedly favors the poor, whereas Paul is much more confused and confusing, so suits the obfuscating vicars and ministers all the more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ blessed the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful and the peacemakers, and offered no blessings at all for the rich in spirit, the arrogant, the cruel and the troublemakers. To be blessed meant to be made holy so that they would be guided by God into His kingdom. It could not be plainer that Jesus favored the poor to the exclusion of the rich. Indeed, Christ tells a rich man he has to give his wealth to the poor to be saved. So riches are no blessing, rather they are the way that those who are not blessed betray their greedy cruel natures to the world at large.

Written by mikemagee

30 June, 2012 at 1:43 am

Not Christian, Rich Christian, Poor Christian, Christian

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“Blessed are the Poor” is not…
”Blessed are the Rich!”

Having read the gospel message of the active life of Christ, just how can American billionaire Republicans and their kin here in the UK succeed in fooling everyone that they can be Christians at all? Yet they pass off the message that the capitalist dog-eat-dog system of treating people as objects for exploitation is compatible with Christ’s teaching of treating people as objects of kindness and love. Nothing seems so easy as the ease by which the rich perpetually fool the poor into believing what is utterly against their best interests, including the nature of Christianity.

Written by mikemagee

25 December, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Saint David Cameron Tells the British to Practice What He Preaches

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David Cameron, British Tory Prime Minister, in a speech to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, said, “Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so”, thereby proving that he either hasn’t a clue about what Britain is like outside his own narrow circle of rich boys, or he is trying to get Britain to go the way of the US, trying to foment sectarian squabbling to detract attention from the greed of his own class and the incompetence of his own government.

Lecturing Church of England clergy in Oxford, he claimed that Britain is in a “moral collapse” requiring a “return to Christian values” and condemned “passive tolerance” of immoral behaviour, in, for example, the summer riots, Islamic extremism, City excess and Westminster scandals. Well the balance here is admirably fair, but what about his own response. He’s been the ruler of the UK for the last two years, and, even if his knowledge of working people’s lives is negligible, he ought to have the knowledge and the power to sort out his own lot, the banking and financial sectors and the feeble opportunists who become MPs these days for their own aggrandizement and not through any idea of community service.

Cameron argues that the King James translation of the Bible is responsible for much of the English we have used in the last 400 years, something that few would disagree with, although its influence was forced home through periods of intense Protestant sectarianism, and the witch hunts, leaving people with little choice but to toe the line and be devout little Calvinists, Anglicans or Methodists, or suffer unpleasant consequences. Besides that, he thinks our politics have been steeped in the bible too. Well certainly all that Protestant intoleration and indoctrination shaped the growth of capitalism, and the British Parliamentary system, but it takes quite a bit of one-eyedness to see how this springs from the teaching of Christ—it being almost diametrically opposite to his teaching—although material wealth, and by implication greed, is deemed as God given in the Jewish religion from which Christianity emerged. Even so, rich Jews had a sacred duty to leave something for the poor. But those like Philip Green, the chain store owner—along with his wife who lives in the tax haven of Monaco, accumulators of around £4 billion—considers his duty to be to evade the payment of around £200 million a year to the British exchequer. And is Cameron’s fondness for invading Arab countries anything to do with morality, or just greed driven opportunism like that of his predecessor, Tony Blair?

Cameron pleads that he is not attacking members of other religions—and none—by claiming Britain is a Christian country, but merely that “the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today”. It would take a clever man to be able to say which parts of the bible have had the dominant effect on anyone’s morals in the last 400 years. The Christian bible, supposedly centred on the person of Christ, considered by Christians to have been God incarnate, teaches that the poor are blessed and the rich have as much chance as a camel getting through the eye of a needle of entering into God’s presence. Instead they have always taught the same pseudo-mystery as the ancient dying and rising gods like Adonis and Attis—merely by dying and rising up again, we are saved from future death, just as the world renovates itself from death every year.

So Pauline Christianity requires no morals at all. Salvation is assured by faith in the myth. Christ required Christians to be moral. He explicitly tells the rich that they cannot remain rich and be saved. The whole purpose of Christian life is service of other people. That is what we should all do—it is the purpose of society—and not waste our talents on exploiting those who are less fortunate and less talented than us, for personal gain. It is something that Cameron, if he chose, could give a lead on. Ha! That is not the morality he means. He is coming from the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures, which demanded obedience of the law. That is Christianity to him, and it is selectively applied—it applies to poor jobless rioters, but not to bloated financiers who do nothing useful but electronically shipping junk bonds hither and thither, getting bonuses for every pointless criminal transaction.

Cameron thinks faith is neither a “necessary nor sufficient condition for morality”but could be a “helpful prod in the right direction”. That might be so as long as he knows what the right direction is, but he evidently does not know it, or he does not know the direction indicated by the God of the Christians, though he professes to be one. Cameron continues:

Whether you look at the riots last summer, the financial crash and the expenses scandal, or the ongoing terrorist threat from Islamist extremists around the world, one thing is clear—moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

And:

The absence of any real accountability, or moral code, allowed some bankers and politicians to behave with scant regard for the rest of society. And when it comes to fighting violent extremism, the almost fearful passive tolerance of religious extremism that has allowed segregated communities to behave in ways that run completely counter to our values has not contained that extremism but allowed it to grow and prosper.

At first glance, it looks deceptively fair, but again, the buck stops with him—he is the one to whom everyone is accountable in a modern secular society. He as leader of the Queen’s government has had the authority to act where his newly promoted moral stance could have an obvious effect, in the city of London, and in taxing the rich proportionately to their wealth so that “we are indeed all in it together” as leaders like him keep chanting, and redistributing the money in this manner in the tried and tested way—by stimulating the base of the economy, creating jobs in essential public works as J M Keynes showed.

If his audience are to be willing to distinguish right from wrong, then he should show them that he can, by rectifying the imbalance of wealth in the country. He has no intention of doing any such thing. While showboating about not agreeing with the Euro Zone countries, he continues supporting city bankers and his own bloated capitalist interests, glorying in the praise of the media barons whose sole purpose is to confuse and indoctrinate the ordinary person.

Needless to say, despite his new found interest in the value of Christianity to Britain, he was less insistent about its place in his personal life. He admitted to the flock of CofE shepherds he was a “committed but vaguely practising Church of England Christian” who, while he would stand up for the values and principles of his faith, was “full of doubts and, like many, constantly grappling with the difficult questions when it comes to some of the big theological issues”. He means that he is not going to accept the codswallop of heaven and hell, and therefore has no worries about his failure to practice what the incarnated Christian God taught, except vaguely, of course.

Poor White Americans Are No Longer Attending Church

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The less educated are disappearing from the American religious sector, as well as disappearing from the American labor market.

Over the past 40 years, wages have fallen and rates of unemployment have risen markedly for moderately educated men, while wages have remained stagnant for moderately educated women. During the same period, the moderately educated have become less likely to hold family centered beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults. For the least educated, those without high school degrees, the economic situation has been worse, and they have also become less likely to hold family centered beliefs, and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college educated adults.

Simultaneously, religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, but the decline has been more than twice that of those without college degrees compared with those who graduated from college, according to new research by W Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia based on data from the General Social Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth. Americans with higher incomes attend religious services more often, and those who have experienced unemployment at some point over the past 10 years attend less often. Wilcox said:

Today, the market and the state provide less financial security to the less educated than they once did, and this is particularly true for the moderately educated—those who have high school degrees, but didn’t graduate from a 4-year college. Religious congregations may be one of the few institutional sectors less educated Americans can turn to for social, economic, and emotional support in the face of today’s tough times, yet it appears that increasingly few of them are choosing to do so.

Modern religious institutions promote a family centered morality that values marriage and parenthood, and they embrace traditional middle class virtues such as self control, delayed gratification, and a focus on education. But the study finds that those who are married, especially if they have children, those who hold more conservative views toward premarital sex, and those who lost their virginity later than their peers, attend religious services more frequently. It makes sense that less educated whites, who are now less likely to be stably employed, to earn a decent income, to be married with children, and to hold family centered views, also do not attend as often services at religious institutions that continue to uphold conventional norms.

At PhysOrg.com, a commentator had a blunter explanation. People don’t go to church because they realize the organizations are corrupt, and in no way reflect the teachings or practices of Jesus or the early church. Churches in America have become nothing more than a Ponzi scheme to make pastors wealthy at everyone else’s expense. It isn’t about doing good for other people either, for many of them. The poor are writing off the churches because they support the system that oppresses them despite the plain contradiction of economic exploitation by Jesus.

Written by mikemagee

21 August, 2011 at 8:28 pm

The Capitalist Christian on Jesus on Distributing Wealth

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In the Washington Post thread devoted to the economic nature of Christ’s teaching, one of the pro-capitalist Christians argued that Jesus was opposed to the redistribution of wealth on the grounds that in Luke 12:13-21 one of the multitude he was addressing said to him:

Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully, and he thought, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he decided, This will I do, I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

To make an anti-egalitarian point the greedy Christian typically extends the parable, after all they all know God’s brain, don’t they? and adds:

Mind you, here was a guy who got nothing, and his brother got everything… doesn’t seem “fair” or “socially just”, right, Libs?

Well contrary to these puerile attempts to denigrate “libs”—anyone vaguely humanitarian—most libs will wonder how this omniscient right winger can presume that this man had “been screwed in this deal”. How does he know the social circumstances or character of the man or his father? Maybe the father had given the inheritance to his most reliable son. Maybe the man’s father had cut him out of the will because he was a drunkard and a gambler. There are no reasons in the story to suggest that the man deserved better, but the point of the tale is that the man is not being “poor in spirit” by coveting his brother’s inheritance. Jesus was sticking to his own principle of the spiritual benefit of poverty. The capitalist continues:

Finally, Jesus finishes with a warning, not to the “rich” brother that received the inheritance, but to the brother that received nothing, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses”.

Does this capitalist apologist for bent Christianity know what we do not, that the rich brother was standing there? Jesus replied to the one who had addressed him, as anyone would. He was concerned that he was or would become greedy, for that is the result of wealth. The more you have, the more you want, but a society has only so much wealth and, when it is not shared fairly, the usual case, someone will be rich at the expense of others. Typically, the Christian so-called who really worships Mammon not Christ ends:

I’ve no doubt, that in response to the demanders of reparations for black people, to the demanders of social justice, to the demanders of taxing the rich more to give to the poor, to the union protesters demanding to get paid more for doing less work, that Jesus’s response to them would be, “beware of covetousness”.

Perhaps so, but no one knows the answer to hypotheticals. What we are sure of is that the Christian community believed in fair, indeed equal, distribution of possessions, and the only reason the life of Christ and of his apostles is given in the New Testament is so that they can be examples to Christians. If the only point of Christ’s life were his crucifixion, then the rest of his recorded ministry is a waste of time and effort, and shows that the Holy Spirit is stupid. The gospels tell us that the first Christians lived thus because that is the way Christians were expected to live, and subsequently, when mainstream Christianity had gone bent, many tried to live according to Christ’s principles in their own communes based on the original one described and Christ’s egalitarian moral principles.

The word translated as “covetousness” here, and in some other places, is better translated as “avarice”, being “grasping” or “greedy”. There is a marked distinction between the poor expecting society to treat them more fairly and the wealthy middle and upper classes who can never be satisfied however much they acquire—another translation is “acquisitiveness”. So, “take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth,” is another condemnation of rich men. No one needs riches. It is pure greed to have them, so riches are necessarily sinful, implying that others are doing without. And why leave out the illustrative parable that followed, and is cited above.

A rich man cannot be “rich towards God”. He cannot be saved because his riches mean more to him than the kingdom of God. And the clear implication is, of course, that this man thought he could be eating and drinking for years to come without a worry, yet the poor would be scratching around for a bruised fig when a fair sharing of the produce would eliminate hunger.

Socialism is fairness, not avarice. Should any decent human being prefer avarice? It seems Jesus did not think so.

Written by mikemagee

21 August, 2011 at 1:08 am

Jesus Explains the Rich Cannot be Saved

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In the discussion in The Washington Post following the items about whether Christianity is intrinsically socialist or capitalist in morality, mentioned below, the modern US capitalist oriented Christians so-called were flummoxed by the directness of their incarnated God’s message, and mostly turned to the Jewish scriptures or to Paul the Apostle for answers. They never seem to see any incongruity in citing pre-Christian Judaism against the direct words of God recorded as they fell from His own lips in the gospels, or the later teachings of a plain man trying his utmost to teach something quite different, while pretending to be preaching the same message as Christ, and succeeding so well that modern Christianity is Paulianity not Christianity!

Some of Jesus’s examples brook no opposition they are so lucid. That anyone should be bold enough to question anything so unequivocal, uttered from the lips of the man they are supposed to consider God, proves that they are not Christians. They are happy to contradict the clearest statements of the divine man! How can this one, for example, be contradicted by America’s megarich “Christians”?

Someone came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother, and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up. What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:17-24

Since US Christians cannot understand biblical English, here is a step by step explanation:

  • The man is seeking salvation, eternal life, entry into God’s kingdom
  • Jesus tells him he must keep the commandments, listing the principal ones from the Jewish scriptures, but adding his own commandment which encompasses all others, “love thy neighbor as thyself”
  • The man considers himself a law abiding Jew and has obeyed all the commandments since he was a boy, and asks whether that is sufficient
  • To be saved people have to be near enough to perfection to satisfy the Judge, God, at Judgement day, so Jesus tells him that he has to give away his wealth to the poor, and become a Christian, thereby being saved—he would have “treasure in heaven”, eternal bliss
  • The reward offered to those who are do these things is salvation, but the man prefers his gold.
  • He leaves sorrowful, but unable to forego his material riches for eternal happiness
  • Jesus explains how hard it is to get into heaven when you are rich—he says it is impossible because a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle.

One commentator confidently proclaimed that this is not the whole story for Peter and the other disciples wonder how anyone can be saved if the rich cannot be. The gospels always show the apostles as being utterly devoid of brain cells, they are so lacking in comprehension. It is a deliberate device of the bishops who commissioned the gospels, because, if they were really so thick, then Jesus must have been thick to select them. Here they are depicted as thick to allow the bishops to be able to insert an ameliorating clause. It is that “all things are possible for God”. So the rich can be saved if God chooses to let them be. It is enough to satisfy the rich, who convince themselves that an occasional act of charity will suffice to get God on their side.

They have, of course, got the let-out clause upside down or inside out. The fact is that in Christian theology God is omnipotent and omniscient, and a few other things. Omnipotent means “almighty” or “all powerful”. It means He always has the final say. God is the Judge. He cannot be obliged to do anything under any conditions. That means that God’s promise is never certain! If God promises that all righteous people will be saved, it means that some of them will not be. That is why pastors are fond of saying that salvation is a gift. They use it as their excuse to deny that good deeds matter, despite the teachings of Christ that they do. It is certain that unrepentant sinners cannot be saved, because they will never be considered by the Judge. To be considered for salvation at all, people have to be perfect, that is righteous, free of sin, and, if they have sinned in their lives, they have to have repented, turned their lives around and not sinned again. The weight of the teaching of Jesus is that, having met the criteria he laid out, they will be eligible for a pass at Judgement, but it always remains God’s gift which He can always withhold, but probably will not.

The same holds in reverse. God is the Judge of sin, and although rich men face an almost complete ban from consideration for salvation, God might offer one or other of them an improbable gift of eternal life, and only God knows why He will do it, if He has a reason at all. But the underlying Christian belief, as it was with the Essenes, is that God is not capricious, so that what we can only call a gift, God has His reasons for it.

It is not a good bet to gamble that God will be benign to the rich man at Judgement Day when during His incarnation on earth, He said unmistakably clearly that for all practical purposes it was impossible for a rich man to get into God’s kingdom. So, gift or no gift, it remains true that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”.

If that is not plain enough for you capitalistic Christians, defending the rich, you ought to read this parable that Jesus told:

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.

The rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot. Neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Luke 16:19-31

It is hard to see how this parable can be read in any way other than the obvious and direct one that being rich can mortally damage your hope for an afterlife, if that is still any attraction to rich Christians. In the story related above, meant to be an actual incident in Jesus’s life, not a parable, the rich man is less attracted to the notion of being saved than he is to his bags of gold. So Jesus knew what the rich were like, and he even ends the parable of Dives and Lazarus by saying that even someone rising from the dead will not persuade them that riches are the “wages of sin”!

That turned out to be a true prophesy, and all of these US Christian apologists for the rich man’s economic scam prove it!

Is Christian Morality More Socialist or More Capitalist?

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It has been amusing over the last few days reading, and even participating in, the debate in The Washington Post on whether Christianity should favor socialism or capitalism. The leading article From Jesus’ Socialism to Capitalistic Christianity was written by Gregory Paul who argued in favor of Socialism but offered several hostages to fortune in introducing Ayn Rand into the debate, and implying that socialism was necessarily coercive. Two other articles followed refuting Gregory Paul’s argument. One was worthless, written by some Catholic member of the Discovery Institute, and another one, almost as bad but written I believe by a pair of evangelical lawyers, David French and Jordan Sekulow, was titled The Impossibility of a Socialist Jesus.

One of the points Gregory Paul made was that of the sharing of possessions in the first Christian community described in Acts. The act of sharing was so important to them that Luke, if he is the author, described how two supposed recruits, Ananias and his wife, Saphira, are struck dead for not sharing fully. They held back some of their wealth. The Christian lawyers claim the God killed the wicked pair for lying not for failing to share all of the money with the community. They say the notion of an honest lawyer is an oxymoron. It seems it is when it is a right wing preaching lawyer!

The ordinary US Christian is not noted for reading the book they value so highly, so they are easily fooled by right wing pastors and lawyers who cite things selectively. The full story of Ananias and Saphira starts at Acts 4:32, as follows:

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common. Neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet. And distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:32; 34-37

It says they all had their things in common. The apostles’ community had set its rules, and Ananias and Saphira broke the rules by trying to deceive the community. People joined voluntarily, but once they had, they had to follow the rules. That is true of any just society, surely. As Gregory Paul had said, these early Christians in Acts held everything in common, so Ananias and Saphira were holding from the group some of their wealth, thereby breaking the community’s rules. They need not have become Christians so could have kept their house as their own, or sold it and disposed of their money just how they liked, but they had joined the community of Christians and so were obliged to give up all their wealth. It is justice.

Capitalist societies are not just. In the UK a lot of unemployed young people have been rioting, and not a few employed people too. Why? They have no prospects, and they have just seen politicians and bankers robbing the public purse by billions without being severely punished, or even being properly regulated. When cheating is so transparent in society people get angry. It seems that Peter got angry with Ananias and Saphira, and as the group’s enforcer, dealt with them.

Desperate to avoid the obvious crime, breaking the socialistic rules of the apostles’ community, Christians like to emphasize that Peter in quizzing Ananias wanted to know why he had lied that they had given all the proceeds of their sale when they had not. The crime was lying, they say, not the deed of withholding. Well naturally withholding necessitated lying but breaking the community’s rule was the primary crime and the reason for the consequent lying. But Peter does not ask Saphira why she lied when she arrived a while later. He says:

Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

The Christian lawyers justify capitalism by justifying cheating, though lying is a capital crime in God’s eyes, it seems. Well capitalism depends on both for one necessitates the other. It is quite true that many people have tried to be honest dealers while practising capitalism, but ultimately it is impossible. Christian bankers, politicians and lawyers prove it, all too transparently, and, in the end, the oppressed masses will not put up with it.

The political idea of socialism might not have arisen until the nineteenth century, but it is an ancient economic system, and unarguably the one that the first Christians adopted!

Only the Rich Witches and Wizards Can Send their Kids to Hogwarts—Lehigh Blog

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Two members of The Economics Society at Lehigh, Anjan Gupta and Dan Maryanovich, run a blog, Centives, a collection of interesting economics studies like the New York Times bestseller, Freakanomics. One post was entitled, How Much Does It Cost to Go to Hogwarts?, one of a series which include also whether law school is worth the price of admission, and the economics of movie theater popcorn.

The authors found that a year at Hogwarts costs approximately $42,752, assuming the price includes tuition, based upon the average cost of England’s top boarding schools (so called “public schools”!) as well as estimated costs for all the items detailed in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, such things as robes, a plain pointed hat, dragon hide gloves and a winter cloak.

After just a few short days online, the blog had more than 18,000 page views and more than 400 re-tweets.

From our point of view, it is interesting. Only very rich people can afford to send their kids to train as witches and wizards, and those people purport to be Fundamentalist or at least Evangelical Christians. But they are just the ones who have tried to use their money and media connexions to run down the Harry Potter series as the stuff of the Devil. If they really believe this, they will not be sending any of their kids to Hogwarts.

One has to conclude that Hogwarts has no chance of opening a branch in the USA. So all the Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and other Right Wing Authoritarians opposed to Harry Potter must be campaigning to stop other people from enjoying a little magic or witchcraft. It is what we can expect of them. They regard it as their right to tell others what to do.

On the other hand, maybe, as followers of Leon Strauss, the founder of Neoconservatism and called by some a “Nazi Jew”, the rich Republicans are only pretending to be Christians for the sake of the ones in the electorate they want to gull into supporting them. Really, they are paying for their kids to get into Hogwarts so that they will have the skills and powers to keep the unwashed masses under control when the revolution comes! Only they have the money to pay the fees so that there is no chance anyone from the working class, or even from the middle classes concerned about whether they will be able to keep their jobs—in other words, the upper working classes!—will ever be admitted into the posh school for wizards.

Hogwarts is a rich man’s exclusive school not a truly public school. So today’s witches and wizards must be rich Republicans. Why then don’t their Christians followers kick them out as the real Satanists instead of harping on about liberals, who are only trying their best to do what Christ would have done?

Written by mikemagee

23 July, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Do Sinners Get an Eternal Life after Death of Never Ending Punishment in Hell?

with 2 comments


Loren A Yadon, pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise, writes in The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column with the rhetorical question, “What would be the consequences to the Christian faith if we denied the existence of hell?”.

First, the credibility of Christ and the Bible is at stake. The idea of hell did not come from medieval tradition, but from the lips of Jesus himself. Interestingly, Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. The word, “gehenna”, was used 12 times to describe the destiny of the wicked in the New Testament. Jesus used that word 11 of those 12 occasions. In Luke 16:19-31, he told a story about the destinies of two men after their deaths. When telling a parable, Jesus never gave the characters of his illustrations proper names. So when he called this beggar by the name of Lazarus, we are left with the impression these two men actually existed. When Lazarus died, his soul went to “the bosom of Abraham”, an expression of eternal bliss. But when the rich man passed away, he found himself in a place of torment with an expanse separating him from everyone. Only he who claimed to come from eternity could describe what takes place in that realm. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said he will serve as the judge at the end of history. He said some people would be sentenced to “everlasting punishment” and others to “eternal life”.

Secondly, if hell did not exist, there would be no need for Jesus to come to Earth. In John 3:16, he told Nicodemus that God so loved people that he sent his son as the savior to rescue them from perishing. Rescue them from what? The “hell” they have made of their lives? Certainly. But there was also an eternal component to the idea. Jesus and his apostles were convinced people would perish without Christ. He was saving people from an awful fate.

Third, if there is no hell, then Jesus’ death on the cross was meaningless, and his claims to purchase salvation are bogus. If people are all right as they are, then history’s most seminal moment was pointless.

And fourth, if there is no hell, then final justice will never be served. Not everything has been made right in life, therefore some things must be judged in eternity. The cry for justice has reverberated down through the centuries as martyrs and victims have cried, “How long, O Lord?” Will the dictators who have butchered people never have to account for their slaughter? Some day all unsolved crimes in history will be judged, and righteous punishment will be administered. The reason why Christians are told not to seek revenge is that God promised, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!” (Romans 12:19). And so we rest, knowing we can leave eternal matters into the most fair, loving, and just hands of God. Knowing the heart of God, we are confident that only those deserving of such a fate will be in hell.

While no one wants to make the existence of hell the focus of their faith, we must not avoid the idea either. If I read the Bible correctly, and if Christ can be trusted to be truthful, then the Christian teaching about eternity is balanced on the existence of both heaven and hell.

Christians are notorious for propagating just what they want their simple dabblers in religion to believe. Pastor Loren wants there to be a hell, and gives us some reasons why there is one, but, though there seems little doubt that the biblical authors assume it, the real question is “what is it?”. According to Revelation (20:14;21:8), the fiery place considered to be hell is where sinners suffer the “second death”—the final, “once and for all death”, for God can destroy the soul (Matthew 10:28)! Unless Christians want to think their God of love is such a monstrous torturer that he will torture someone excruciatingly forever, sinners are not perpetually tortured by continuous burning, they are burnt to death spiritually, quickly and finally. On that view, God punishes sinners but does not torture them.

Moreover Gehenna was a valley next to Jerusalem where the city’s rubbish was burnt, and Jesus plainly uses it metaphorically as equivalent to the place where the spiritual rubbish will be burnt when the tares are separated from the wheat at Judgement. The fiery lake of sulphur is a metaphysical Gehenna for the final combustion of irretrievably wicked souls, and that is the second death. The antithesis of eternal life is eternal death, not eternal punishment, so salvation is being saved from the second death, and eternal life is having the reward for the righteous—those with good souls. But everlasting burning sounds impossibly horrible, so became a biblical bogeyman for Christian pastors to scare their congregations into compliance.

Comments on the Four Items

  1. Jesus promised that the poor were saved—they were blessed—that is what it means. Lazarus, the poor beggar, was saved in “the bosom of Abraham”. Dives, the rich man was not. It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. That means it is impossible! It does not deter the rich from getting richer and richer, but the end of the parable clearly says “they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead”! Nor have they been, but what do they care. Well, if they profess Christianity, they should.
  2. “If hell did not exist, there would be no need for Jesus to come to Earth. In John 3:16, he told Nicodemus that God so loved people that he sent his son as the savior to rescue them from perishing. Rescue them from what?” John 3:16 says nothing about Jesus rescuing anybody, but simply that Jesus was sent so that people need not perish. To perish is to die! That is bad enough for someone who is setting their heart on the promise of everlasting life, but Pastor Loren wants it to be even more dreadful than death. Don’t they all? It is a large element of clerical control. Salvation is from perpetual death—the second death which is the reward of wicked souls.
  3. This is incomprehensible. If a Christian thinks Jesus saved them in some sense by his death, then he still does. Goodness is rewarded still by eternal life—wickedness by eternal spiritual death.
  4. Why is hell necessary for some metaphysical final justice? Final justice is still served by the second final death of the wicked. “Will the dictators who have butchered people never have to account for their slaughter?” At the final judgement, why must the Pastor assume that only wicked dictators will have to appear to account for their slaughter and butchery? If unjust killing is a criterion for burning in hell, what US president would escape. They have ordered the killing of millions of innocents abroad—Libyans, Afghans and Iraqis, and several million Vietnamese bombed and poisoned monstrously a while back. This mass murder has been carried out with the approval of most of the USA’s Christians.

    And what sort of hypocrisy is this? “Christians are told not to seek revenge as God promised, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay!’ (Romans 12:19).” If this is so, then why are US Christians so keen on vengeance themselves, and as a nation? They are Christians only in church, and cannot, and see no need to, relate Christ’s morality to the real world. That is why they are so fond of citing Paul rather than God in the form of Jesus Christ. Here Paul cites Deuteronomy, the oldest law in the Jewish Scripture because it is most likely the original law of Moses! That Old Testament God is noted for being vengeful, but the Pastor and Paul rightly tell their readers that revenge is for God only—not even Christians! She might have added that Paul goes on to cite Proverbs 25:21: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink”, something that is much more Christian.

Does Pastor Loren really think that Christians who have approved of mass butchery and slaughter will be welcome in the kingdom of God? Does any Christian seriously think they can approve of serial murder and even participate in it and still be a candidate for eternal life? Heaven must be full of crooks and murderers. Read the bible again. Sinners are not welcome in God’s kingdom. Christ says explicitly and graphically that anyone tempted into sin would be better off plucking out their eye than letting it tempt them into sin and losing the promised reward. Eyes are of no value to those burnt up in the second death in hell—the spiritually dead.

Maybe it is a shame there is no fiery hell or perpetual torture. Plenty of Christians should finish up there, but fortunately for them they’ll just suffer the second death and, while expecting everlasting life, they’ll get a simple quick fry up of their wicked souls. They should be “Thanking the Lord”.

The pastor writes in concluding, “If I read the Bible correctly”. Sadly most Christians, pastors included, just do not study and so do not understand their own incarnated God—or the studying they do is taught by their false teachers, like Paul the fraudulent apostle, and the modern apostles of Mammon with their ten million capitalist disciples. Christ told Christians they were to remove the beams from their own eyes before trying to get specks from the eyes of others. Christians think they are warriors fighting God’s fight, but the point of the parable of beams and specks is that first they must be pure and of pellucid clarity of vision themselves. That is too hard. It’s much easier to blame everyone else, label them all indiscriminately as wicked, and continue unwittingly as the Antichrist’s stormtroopers.

Written by mikemagee

12 June, 2011 at 9:30 pm