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Does this make George W. a prophet?

You can't help but be intrigued by the machinations that take place inside the heads of religious leftists as they attempt to sell ideology as a basis for Christian faith:

We went out last night to see Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. I'll say it's a must-see and leave it at that. (Except to add that the man is another of those modern-day prophets, and the fact that so many people don't like him simply helps prove the point.)

The movie got me thinking again about some things that I have said here before, to little or no reaction. So, being the stubborn son of a gun that I am, I thought I'd say them again and see if I can provoke anyone into responding.

Here's something I said some time ago that bears repeating:

Capitalism is based on a system of enlightened self-interest

The Gospel of Jesus is based on a system of enlightened other-interest

As such, they are diametrically opposed, and more than likely incompatible.

Any comments on that rather bold statement? If you still support the idea that capitalism is God's preferred economic system I'd like to hear from you. But even if you don't, how about the idea that they are possibly incompatible? Anyone?

Who would like to opine?



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Comments (46)

Christian theology, and mos... (Below threshold)

Christian theology, and most theology, is based on the promoise of eternal salvation. That is a fundamental appeal to self-interest.

Further, self-interest is on the only one that works. Everybody acts in their percieved self-interest. Only the perceptions vary.

Religion has it self-intere... (Below threshold)

Religion has it self-interest. If one follows the enlighten path "they "become a better person and "they" get to go to heaven, etc.

The bible teaches oneself to take personal responsibility and build self worth.Sounds like a capitalist concept to me. Yes it teaches compassion also but not socialism. Remember the one passage where it say one should teach a person to fish not simply give him a fish. Why? It teaches that person to be self reliant. Sounds like a capitalist concept to me.

I think there is a good dea... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

I think there is a good deal of validity to the statement that the two are incompatible -- there are elements of Catholic teaching on economic behavior that tend to go in the socialist/anti-capitalist direction. In my opinion, this is the effect of a poor understanding in the tribal/agricultural/Roman-imperial time of Jesus of economic principles that tend to the betterment of all. In the time of Jesus and the region of Israel there was no capitalism in any significant sense, so the people to whom Jesus preached had no conception of what it might be -- just as they also had no exposure to democracy.

Self-interest and other-interest are interconnected. Jesus' own teaching has a kind of self-interest at its core: the reason to live a life on earth along the principle of other-interest is that this is the means of achieving the ultimate self-interest, namely, eternal personal salvation and happy endless existence in heaven.

If our existence on earth teaches us that as a matter of economics and material productivity, the self-interested pursuit of capitalism under democracy produces more prosperity and comfort than the other-interest of socialism under an aristocracy or monarchy/dictatorship of a state, we ought not be led away from that conclusion by persons who invoke religious doctrines developed at a time when neither capitalism nor democracy existed.

Give unto Caesar what is Ca... (Below threshold)

Give unto Caesar what is Caesars and give unto the Lord what is the Lords.

Who is this clown, the statements he which's to discuss has no logic and no merit,
He which's to discuss the differences in the color red and blue this not based on logic, fact or even comparable thought. The discussion will be based on feelings and ideas. He must be an Obama supporter evidenced by lack of deep thoughts and basing decisions and policy on Unicorns and Fairy Dust.

The bible teaches ... (Below threshold)
James H:
The bible teaches oneself to take personal responsibility and build self worth.Sounds like a capitalist concept to me. Yes it teaches compassion also but not socialism. Remember the one passage where it say one should teach a person to fish not simply give him a fish. Why? It teaches that person to be self reliant. Sounds like a capitalist concept to me.

Seems to me the capitalist concept would be to get the person to sign a contract to buy fish from you on a regular basis.

I am not a person of faith,... (Below threshold)
James H:

I am not a person of faith, so I don't truly have a dog in this fight.

Still, I have to ask: Why does Christianity have to endorse or condemn capitalist economics at all? Why can't economic theory and theology stand in separate corners?

Jesus didn't advocate an ec... (Below threshold)

Jesus didn't advocate an economic system, and the only form of government he supported was the Kingdom of God. He even stated that his disciples didn't fight to prevent his arrest because "My kingdom is not of this world."

Saint Peter implicitly argued in favor of private property when he told Ananias "Didn't it (land) belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?"

Karl Marx is not Jesus Christ and Das Kapital is not the Gospel, Michael Moore et al. notwithstanding.

Capitalism is based on a sy... (Below threshold)

Capitalism is based on a system of enlightened self-interest? Not a bold statement. Not even accurate.

Therefore I reject the premise. Capitalism is a market based system in a free market or to say it better try http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism

Other Bible passages, off t... (Below threshold)

Other Bible passages, off the top of my head:
*Thou shalt not steal
*If a man doesn't work, he shouldn't eat
*The parent should lay up resources for the child
*Give willingly, with a cheerful heart, as much as you've determined in accordance with your income.
Sorry, but the "teach a man to fish" isn't in the Bible.

So, this is the latest vers... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

So, this is the latest version of the silly "Jesus was a conservative/Jesus was a liberal" nonsense?

God really doesn't care about what economic system we or anyone else has. What He cares about is us, and whether we will become reconciled to Him. When we die, the Lord is not going to ask, "Were you a capitalist or a socialist?"

I would disagree with the p... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I would disagree with the premise that Christianity is other focused.

The implication is that we are to be focused on the needs of others etc. That is false. We are to be focused on God. The fact that Christians then go out and serve their fellow man flows from a desire to assist in what they consider "God's" work.

And Yes, it is apolitical in nature as others have already commented. The focus is to work in whatever political system is present to make converts.

What is truly pernicious is the attempt by unethical and arguably malevolent people to co-opt religion to serve their political ends. That is what Michael Moore is attempting and what he would do if he were able. Moore shows no signs of being a Christian as he openly spurns religion at other times. That being the case I would suggest that (per usual) he knows nothing of which he speaks.

Why can't economic theor... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Why can't economic theory and theology stand in separate corners?

James H - They do. Or at least they should. In this case it is an unethical con artist trying to put some respectable clothing on his loathsome argument for making the rest of us poor. In most cases it is the politicians who try to acquire for themselves the approbation of religious institutions (Pelosi visiting the Pope for instance) to bolster their own bona fides.

If Moore believed one iota of what he preaches he wouldn't be using exclusively non union labor to make his films. He's a fraud.

Do not judge Christianity b... (Below threshold)

Do not judge Christianity based solely on the Catholic Church. Most of the teachings of the Catholic Church are either parsed from or nowhere in the Bible they claim as the Ultimate Book of Knowledge.

I am a Christian who spurns much of organized religion because most of it seems to be about the church and about God second rather than the other way around.

Christianity teaches moral lessons along with faith. Those lessons are the foundations of this country thus the reason the Declaration of Independence mentions God. Thus the reason "In God We Trust" is on our money. You cannot separate Christian morality from our government without detrimental effect to all that is American. You can separate the religious overtones.

Free market capitolism NEEDS Christian morals to survive and prosper. It is only when extreme greed enters the system that it fails. In general Capitalism is the best economic system in the world.

As for all this faux-preaching from the left, why are there so many millionaires on the left if they only want to help the poor? Why does Obama have so much money if his true aim as a Community Organizer was to lift people up and get them out of poverty? Should he not instead, only keep what he needs to provide for his family, and give the rest to the poor? There is no law against doing so.

The left loves to preach about the rich being greedy and needing to pay "their fair share". I won't listen to them until they drop the hypocrisy and lead by example.

Oh and additionally we NEED... (Below threshold)

Oh and additionally we NEED liberal forward thinking to keep our country moving ahead rather than being mired in the conservative values of the past.

However we NEED conservatives to keep us on the right path and keep us from moving forward, in the completely WRONG direction.

Having a single party in power leads to extremes on both sides which either way ends up detrimental to the country as a whole. Progressive Republicans (John McCain et all) are just as bad for this country if let loose as Progressive or Socialist Democrats.

The Republicans just move more slowly down the wrong paths giving us time to reverse course whereas the Democrats go full steam ahead toward the cliff and keep doubling down on bad ideas in the hopes that somehow we will all magically gain wings and fly over the edge rather than plunge to an extremely painful and permanent death.

We need both parties and anyone who prefers one party to be in complete control is dooming the nation to the death of our way of life.

"Seems to me the capitalist... (Below threshold)

"Seems to me the capitalist concept would be to get the person to sign a contract to buy fish from you on a regular basis"

More likely you would teach him how to fish so he could sustain himself in return for him working for you so you could turn around and sell part of his catch.

""teach a man to fish" isn't in the Bible"

My bad, but it has been used in sermon and teaching. I started out in a Catholic school and have heard many sermons. I never had any big inclination to remembering passage but more of concepts. I do seem to remember a passage that goes something like "God won't do for you what you can do yourself. You must do what you can do, and then trust God to do what you can't." which falls under the self reliance philosophy which is one of the thing I took from our sermons.

Man was endowed by his crea... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft IIIz:

Man was endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happyness. A government which intrudes upon that liberty (mandating the purchase of insurance for health purposes) is foreign to Gods will for us, according to our founders.

"What is truly pernicious i... (Below threshold)

"What is truly pernicious is the attempt by unethical and arguably malevolent people to co-opt religion to serve their political ends."

I'll think about taking leftist theology seriously when leftists agree that the Ten Commandments and prayer to Jesus Christ belong in government schools.

I agree with being cautious... (Below threshold)

I agree with being cautious when mixing religion and government but would caution not to completely separate the two. The quickest way to bring down a government and\or make it highly ineffective is to allow it to be corrupted. Corruption is a moral concept which stems from religion. If we make right and wrong as simply something define by law only and not something instill in the fabric of the universe, the concept loses its meaning.

In most cases it ... (Below threshold)
James H:
In most cases it is the politicians who try to acquire for themselves the approbation of religious institutions (Pelosi visiting the Pope for instance) to bolster their own bona fides.

Beyond ceremonial deism and basic ecumenism, I tend to be suspicious of anybody who invokes religion in the political sphere.

More likely you wo... (Below threshold)
James H:
More likely you would teach him how to fish so he could sustain himself in return for him working for you so you could turn around and sell part of his catch.

Not bloody likely! If I teach him to fish, he's more likely to take those skills and become a competitor. Better for him to be dependent on me and keep paying me for my fish.

I would like to know how th... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I would like to know how they came up with the statement "The Gospel of Jesus is based on a system of enlightened other-interest" as it doesn't seem to be derived correctly from the Gospel. I would change it to "The Gospel of Jesus is based on a system of enlightened self-interest and love for others."

Matthew 20: 1-16 starts out saying "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard."

Then in verse 13-15 you find this statement. "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"

To me the landowner had enlightened self-interest and love for others, yet he expected others to do what they agreed to do and that he had the right to do what he wanted with his own money. That certainly seems compatible with capitalism as a system, yet depends on the love of individuals for others.

If there's something missing from our economic system it's love for others, which historically came from the teachings of Jesus. It seems those complaining about loveless capitalism were in the forefront of removing religion from our daily lives.

Liberals want to substitute government mandates for the love for others that flows from the Gospel, but in doing so they take away personal responsibility and the right of people to do what they want with their own money. Such a system is incompatible with human nature and is doomed to fail.

I wonder what they called c... (Below threshold)

I wonder what they called catagory they put bribery into before religion called upon men?

"Better for him to be depen... (Below threshold)

"Better for him to be dependent on me and keep paying me for my fish."
If he is hungry as the story goes then it is unlikely has has anything of value. How do you expect him to pay you? Work maybe?

Perhaps he can offer some o... (Below threshold)
James H:

Perhaps he can offer some other service or product he produces. However, if we assume a universe beyond him and me, I'll simply not sell him fish if he can't pay for them.

James: Good Luck a... (Below threshold)


Good Luck and Thanks for the Fish!

The teachings of Jesus are ... (Below threshold)
G Marshall:

The teachings of Jesus are based on love, compassion and faith. I'm not sure how you can equate this to capitalism or liberalism. The bible teaches us to work hard our whole lives to please God. It also teaches us to tithe to the church the monies earned from that labor. These monies are used to help the less fortunate both here in our Country and abroad. I don't believe Christianity teaches re-distribution of weath by the government, which is what is happening in our Country today. Not only is the current administration going to run our private industries, health care system, banks, auto makers, now they are going to dictate what salaries the executives should be paid of the companies they loaned money to "with no strings attached". The current administration is also working on censoring our internet access as well as boycotting certain cable news stations. Now Obama wants to bail out the Newspapers...guess why? So he can dictate what is printed in them about HIM! This is socialism in the making!!! Wake up America...you're getting the "change" you voted for!!!!!! Your personal freedoms are being eroded on a daily basis and most folks care more about what Angelina and Brad are up to than what the politicians are doing to our Country...and guess what? They like it that way! It gives them the stimulus to "take care" of the people that can't think for themselves...

JustRuss,"We have ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
-John Adams

That seems to fit what you were trying to say.

Jesus said a lot of things ... (Below threshold)

Jesus said a lot of things , but the left just cherry picks the stuff they can use to demonize their opponents. Jesus admonished the rich man to sell his posessions and give the proceeds to the poor. Has any leftist who spouts Jesus' theology done so? I know Gore has a mega-mansion that would pay for quite of few people to obtain healthcare, or does he not care about the poor? Obama spent millions to get elected, how many hungry mouths could that money have fed, does he hate the hungry?
Jesus also said that when you give alms , to not let the right hand see what the left is doing , in other words, do your good deeds without fanfare, unlike the hypocrits who love to parade their 'good intentions' for all to see.
The ten commandments are from the old testament and predate Jesus obviously , but greed IS NOT ONE THEM, however, envy is (don't covet thy neighbors goods) and the left's gospel is certainly the fanning of envy with their class warfare tactics,and what a suprise that the only solutuon the 'problem' is to give them unlimited powers over the rest of us 'unenlightened' ones.

Thank youIndeed, t... (Below threshold)

Thank you

Indeed, the mess we are in is the making of those who wish to remove religion entirely from politics and business. Thus removing morality except that legislated by the government.

In a society robbed of religion and morality except for faith in government, the free market deteriorates into the haves and the have nots with the only way to "redistribute the wealth" being by government and not by charity.

Sermons are not soley based... (Below threshold)

Sermons are not soley based on the Bible alone. I can only imagine how boring and stale they'd become if that were the case. And yes, I know many people feel they often already are.

It is true that sermons wou... (Below threshold)

It is true that sermons would be boring if only based on the Bible. However I have heard some pretty wonderful sermons and some awfully boring ones.

That is not my issue with the church, my issue is those churches that wish to make moral decisions for you that have nothing to do with the Words of Jesus Christ.

In fact, though I believe the ten commandments are a nice place to start, I do not believe entirely in the Old Testament of the Bible. Many of the events may have happened as described, but more likely much was entirely made up or embellished in the centuries of oral tradition. As opposed the New Testament which was written shortly after it happened.

The words of Jesus Christ mean much more to me than the words of Moses though the morality you can find in the Old Testament is still a good teaching tool.

I also disagree with most of Christianity being based on the books that the Catholic Church among others deemed worthy of inclusion, to the exclusion of other detailings of the life and death of Jesus Christ or other biblical figures.

All of that aside, it is still those morals that this country was founded on, those morals that made us a better place to live than anywhere else in the world. Without them our country falls apart, which seems to be the intent of Obama and others on the left. Or those who are pulling Obama's strings.

All commentators to this ar... (Below threshold)
John Charles:

All commentators to this article must see Alonzo Rachel's video on Pajamas News titled: "Obama's Magic Money: Is How He Won The Prize?" The contrast between Jesus' teachings versus Socialism/Communism are articulated quite well. It will end this silly conversation.

Ye shall... (Below threshold)

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

For many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many.

John Charles,It's ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

John Charles,

It's a good video, but provide a link if you want people to see it, you know, like this.

Obama's Magic Money: Is That How He Won The Prize?

James H ...so you th... (Below threshold)

James H ...
so you think the capitalist would get you to sign a contract to buy fish ?
That would be true if you had something to give the capitalist in return for his fish, say some fruit you had grown. Oops, you just became a capitalist because contracts are TWO WAY arrangements not one way. Not Zero Sum either ...

You got a fish, he got an apple ... see how that works ...

So wether its teach a man to fish or encourage a man to grow fruit the idea is the same.

Earn the fish ... thats what Jesus taught ...

There is no relationship be... (Below threshold)

There is no relationship between Christianity and politics. Really that is all Washington is about is staying in power. They don't care for the most part about what the people need or want. They only care about their next vote.

I am not a betting man, but I would bet that Jesus would care less if you are a democrat, republican, conservative or liberal. He only cares about your heart and what motivates it. ww

apples and oranges... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

apples and oranges

WildWillie,The Tor... (Below threshold)
Tina S:


The Torah "Old Testament" has the following to say about "good intentions". I find the last one most interesting.

Berachos 5b: People who do what they can, and have good intentions, are rewarded.

Shabbos 63a: If someone intends to perform a commandment, but was unable to do it, he is regarded as if he had done it.

Nazir 23b: A sin performed with good intentions is as great as a good deed performed without good intentions.

Tina S:While it is... (Below threshold)

Tina S:

While it is true that a "sin" committed with the proper intention can be good, the problem is that the motives must be absolutely pure and future sins must not be done. That is why there are so few listed as being in this category. One of the few examples is Yael who seduced and killed Sisera.

The problem is that the politicians who claim "good intentions" are actually liars and are sinning in order to gain power.

BTW if Michael Moore is a "modern prophet" he is subject to the punishment in Deuteronomy 13 for a false prophet. Someone who gives a command from the Torah and credits it to a false "god" (lower case g deliberate) is considered a false prophet and is subject to the appropriate punishment.

If Christianity and capital... (Below threshold)
Bubba Thudd:

If Christianity and capitalism are diametrically opposed, why is the United States one of the most capitalistic and Christian countries in the world?

My first thoughts about it ... (Below threshold)

My first thoughts about it was that He gave us the freedom of choice and capitalism gives us the freedom of choice. Socialism and Communism are about limiting or taking our freedom of choice from us.

If Christianity an... (Below threshold)
jim m:
If Christianity and capitalism are diametrically opposed, why is the United States one of the most capitalistic and Christian countries in the world?

And why is it that communist nations are officially atheist?

The simple answer is that Moore is a lying ass.

Sorry, but the "teach a ... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

Sorry, but the "teach a man to fish" isn't in the Bible.

True, it's a Chinese proverb.

Ayn Rand threw the world fo... (Below threshold)

Ayn Rand threw the world for a loop when she claimed self-denial ("altruism") is inherently destructive, while self-interest ("selfishness") is inherently constructive. Reagan and Greenspan proved her right. Obama has, so far, proved her even more right.

Capitalism sets up a system where the most goods and services are available to the most people at the lowest price the market can bear. (Why aren't they available for free? Because that would be slavery.) Sounds like a decent balance of self-interest and other-interest to me.

There are people who cannot (or will not) separate other-interest from self-denial. They have a binary worldview: "either it helps me and hurts them, or it hurts me and helps them; and if I have to endure this, then you have to also."

Aw, c'mon! Join the online ... (Below threshold)

Aw, c'mon! Join the online mental masturbation act!

I am not sure that any one ... (Below threshold)

I am not sure that any one said this yet if so no offense intended.

Christianity is about the self interest in giving. We follow after a man who gave his life so that we might live a more abundant life in every way. The only true requirement is that we give of our lives be honest and truthful.
Very few would disagree that there is long term good in the helping the little old lady across the street mentality which we should all have. The RAC's (random acts of kindness) is I say the real and true strength of America. That we are so strong in this, that it permeates every corner of this nation and persists even in the face of constant attacks against what others believe to be our real strenght. Attacks against our economic system.
The roots of our nation are founded in the basics of what Jesus was teaching. Do good for those who Would do evil unto you that it may a testimony against them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Turn the other cheek.
Our Constitution is geared around and by inferance protects our right to be a good people. It allows us to be good and protects our right to be good, and better yet it protects our right to tell others in whose name we are being good for and why.
It is our interest to be good to others.
This is the real America. Not this selfish BS I see pro-offered every day in the media.

Enlightened self interest.






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