"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Liberation from Wealth

"For this revolution is not, in fact, concerned with liberating us from our poverty and misery, but rather from our wealth and our totally excessive prosperity. It is not a liberation from what we lack, but from our consumerism in which we are ultimately consuming our very selves. It is not a liberation from our state of oppression, but from the untransformed praxis of our own wishes and desires. It is not a liberation from our powerlessness, but from our own form of predominance. It frees us, not from the state of being dominated, but from that of dominating; not from our suffering, but from our apathy; not from our guilt, but from our innocence, or rather from that delusion of innocence which the life of domination has long since spread out in our souls." - Johann Baptist Metz, "Christians and Jews After Auschwitz"

The disease that Matt Taibbi diagnoses in "Will Goldman Sachs Prove Greed is God?" is far deeper than he imagines. It is a sickness in the social soul which all of us share and which can only be healed through the revolution which Metz envisions for us. The "prosperity" which is the unquestioned goal of virtually every conscious decision made is precisely the sickness that is destroying us, beginning with the corruption of reason into a pure instrument of acquisition. Mother Earth cries out in compassion for her lost children who are unable to understand the sacrifices required for life to flourish. We have turned ourselves into machines fueled by other men's greed and only by embracing poverty of spirit can we be saved.

Our false wishes and desires cry out for transformation. In some secret room in our soul, we know that the current direction of our society is an evolutionary and spiritual dead end, yet we cannot bear to pull the emergency cord on this train hurtling into the abyss. Instead, we heighten the illusions that nourish our decay and demand miracles of the God of our imagination. In doing this, we continually contribute to the true catastrophe, the one "which consists in the fact that everything goes on as before" - Walter Benjamin.

The word that best characterizes this revolution is conversion, but not the purely privatized conversion presented by Christianity Incorporated, that wholly owned subsidiary of the transnational corporations. A private conversion that has no social ramifications is a pure fiction for those who inhabit an inescapably political landscape of domination and subjugation. Such is the delusion of innocence that rots our souls with idealistic fetishes presented as true salvation in the mega-churchs, those mega-malls of spiritual consumerism. Jesus should once more overturn the stalls of these buyers and sellers of spiritual fraud. The prayer that God will gladly hear is the one that crucifies our false prosperity built on the exploitation of those little ones whose deaths we casually encompass for the sake of our SUVs.

The concept of a purely private conversion is the bubble within which our delusional innocence can be preserved. It is the bubble that must be pricked so that all the decayed myths can be drained away and we can begin to find a true innocence through the acceptance of our guilt - our silence in the face of the slaughter in the Middle East wholly financed by our dollars, our secret cheering at the triumph of those who are "really, really good at making money", and how we worshipers of science cannot hear the voices of those telling us that we are destroying the basis of life on this planet.

This indeed is the conversion for which we long. This conversion is like an electrical shock which reaches deep down into the direction our lives are taking, that "damages and disrupts our immediate self-interest" (Metz). This is the revolutionary "bread of life" for which we hope. We can embrace this conversion only when we are able to break the chain of immediate self-interest, the chain which Goldman Sachs gleefully wraps around itself and the government it pretends to obey. This sickness eats into our reason to the point that Goldman Sachs executives declare that, "The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest." - Matt Taibbi. This was said precisely in the context of defrauding an entire country of its budget and plunging it into social chaos.

God calls to us to shed this false wealth that makes us lackeys of financial domination, of that world of "greed without limit" that is casting its shadow over us and to which we must succumb if we cannot change our hearts and the heart of our society.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very well stated, and timely for us in these economic times...