We already know that religion was created as a mechanism to for society to control the masses and for the individual to give meaning to life.
In my book Deep Dive, I analyzed how we humans spend tons of time avoiding thinking about the things that really matter like what are we doing here? What is our purpose?
If you really reflect for a few minutes, isn’t that the most important question we can ask ourselves individually and culturally?
Why do we avoid asking ourselves or pondering the most important question in our existence on this planet?
Because we already have an answer provided by religion: Faith. Faith in a God that supposedly has a divine plan for you and me as individuals, above all else. What if our plans conflict? Who does God choose? Why me over you or you over me?
Why did that happen? “It was God’s plan for me.”
Faith teaches us to disregard facts, ignore reason, and have blind faith in a narrative that was created to tell us a story about who we are and what we are doing based on a bible, written by men, that says we are the son of God: That we are special. That the earth was made for us to rule. That all living things were meant for our pleasure and consumption.
Since this story pleases us and allows us to act like we are Gods, we use a circular argument by pointing back to a bible and saying that it is the word of God, to justify our behavior.
“See: It is okay. God said so.”
Oh, and Christianity also has a special prize for us in case we act too selfishly, kill too many, ruin the planet: We are weak. We are sinners. We were made that way. It is not our fault. We just need to ask forgiveness. Repent and be saved from spending eternity in hell.
“Bless me father for I have sinned.”
Culturally religion keeps people working hard and trying to do the right thing because as the story goes, we are here on earth to spend our time worshiping a God who has a plan for every single one of the billions of people and then that God will decide how we spend eternity.
So, be good, work hard, trust the plan, go to church, or else…
Individually, we are social beings in desire of approval by others. The structure of the church provides a fraternity where we can be with others of like-minded beliefs. This is a circle of reinforcement which self-perpetuates:
Go to church, support the church, give money to the church, ask for forgiveness to the priest in our church, support the community that does the same, and so on….
Capitalism and Christianity are seemingly at odds:
Capitalism is competition. It demands consumption, winning and constant growth.
Christianity teaches kindness, sharing, sacrifice, and teamwork.
But are they really at odds with each other?
Christianity is inherently evangelical. It is the largest religion in the world.
Perhaps the seeming polarity is wrong? Perhaps it and Capitalism are not opposed but symbiotic?
Let’s look deeper by asking some questions.
Why do people give money to others? Why would a struggling Hispanic family who rents a home give their hard-earned money to a church that has billions of dollars in assets and owns billions of dollars in real estate?
Giving money is transactional: It is an exchange of something of value for something of value in return. In a church donation where a parishioner gives money, what do they expect in return? What does the church provide for the donation? It promises a better relationship with God using the priest as a conduit. Perhaps the priest can provide a better path to heaven after death?
If people tend to donate more money out of guilt, perhaps they will be honored? The more they give, the more they are honored. Go to Notre Dame and see the beautiful buildings with names on them? Were they gifts of greed (big businesses making profit by paying employees only what they can get away with) or guilt (look everybody, my name is on the building, so I am a good guy! I am not a sinner!) or both?
What about that Hispanic family? What are they getting? – A promise for the potential of something that may or may not happen to them after they die unless they proclaim Jesus Christ as their lord and savior? …hmmm. Something fishy about that value proposition?
Back to Christianity and Capitalism.
Both require perpetual growth. Both support each other on the Christian Right.
Maybe that is why Christianity is Right to Life: More Christians! More Consumers!
Maybe that is why Christianity collects so much money from parishioners? More Churches! More PAC money!
Maybe that is why Catholics offer Redemption? More donations to absolve the guilty! More buildings with names on them!
Maybe that is why priests can’t have kids? More money that can’t be inherited but just stays with the church!
Churches are huge businesses but aren’t taxed. They are left alone to manage themselves. They largely stay out of politics unless they want to invade the body of women to try to abolish abortion in the name of being pro-life.
Yet, ironically, and concurrently, the Christian right is against gun control.
Yet, yet, guns kill many more innocent people in the USA every year than legal abortions.
Politicians are tasked with managing society, yet they subsidize churches and don’t scrutinize their behavior. They have been historically reluctant to hold pedophile priests accountable. They provided billions of dollars in subsidies to the catholic church during the recent Coronavirus pandemic.
Churches get a free pass from the capitalist government because they don’t condemn the immoral, self-serving politicians.
Politicians get a free pass from judgement by church leadership because they let the church operate as a business without oversight.
Let’s be honest, we can clearly see that certain politicians are mostly in their job because they care more about getting elected and reelected than they do about their constituents, our country, or our planet.
The recent actions of Donald Trump to stay in power at any cost after losing an election and Joe Manchin to reject climate-saving legislation that will help save our planet long-term versus the short-term value of appeasing the people who claim to care more about deficit spending than the viability of living on this planet for our kids and grandkids.
They both secured huge donations by special interests (business) that has corrupted them. They prioritized power and wealth over the people and planet. Both of them claim to be Christians.
It all comes down to Hubris. We want what is best for us (me), right now. Let the future or others be damned as long as I am getting mine (individually) and business is growing (culturally).
Is there any accountability by anyone or do we just keep destroying everything on the path in the name of progress and wealth, with the ‘blessings’ of capitalism as ‘growth’?
Yet, here we are at Christmastime, spending money on things we don’t need to placate ourselves while ignoring that gnawing, undeniable, subliminal, uneasy question we should be asking ourselves more:
“What am I doing here?”
What is your answer? How about this?
Find your passion by asking yourself what is important to you.
This leads to your purpose.
Let your purpose guide you.
God is in that process.
Faith? Have faith in the love in your heart.
God is there.
Have faith in the process of discovering your purpose.
Manifest your purpose in your daily living.
God is there.
Live in harmony with everything by sharing love, not judging, others.
God is there.
Have empathy not disdain.
God is there.
Be a giver not a taker.
God is there.
God is there.
Practice living the Serenity Prayer: by accepting the things you cannot control, controlling the things that you can and be smart enough to know the difference…