I wish I could say that I purchased the December issue of The Atlantic for some reason other than being sold by the cover.  After a stressful day at work, I just couldn’t pass up the tag line, “Did Christianity Cause The Crash?”

The article was nothing new, as the usual suspects made their appearances; namely, the promoters of the ‘health & wealth gospel’ only to be tempered by Rick Warren, as if he’s the only sane Christian out there.   However, the most interesting part of the article had to do with the research of Tony Tian-Ren Lin a the University of Virginia.  Tony’s findings are summarized here:

“The tenets of the prosperity gospel, and the practical advice of the pastors often give their parishioners, help immigrants learn ‘not just how to survive but how to thrive; not just live paycheck to paycheck but handle money – manage complicated payrolls, invest in equipment,’ Lin told me.  Along the way, they become assimilated.  ‘While they’re trying to be closer to God, instead they become American,’ he says, from their optimism and entrepreneurialism to the very nature of their dreams.”

Christianity as a vehicle for Capitalism.  And not just in a Weberian sense, but much more pronounced.  Of course, the article is not describing Christianity in the true sense (yes, I’m making a judgement call) and this isn’t merely a neutral Capitalism.  Rather, its exploitation at its finest and in truest sense of the word.  As it has been pointed out before, poor people’s money doesn’t work right.  It doesn’t grow, doesn’t save and certainly doesn’t know how to invest – until now.  Until the rise of the prosperity gospel, which teaches individuals how to become better Capitalists.  And as the article makes clear, it’s a disproportionate amount of immigrants and lower class people who get on board with this type of gospel.  

What’s the alternative or who are the sane voices out there?  I think James Smith offers the closest thing we’ll get in terms of a ‘solution.’  He presented the concept of making room in our discourse for what only appears as failure: martyrdom.  As he states, “I mean a commitment to the scandal of the kingdom which recognizes that faithfulness does not look like success, does not look like winning. Indeed, more often than not, it will look like losing. We make room for the cross just to the extent that we’re willing to lose.”

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