In the US, people in general, and this is a generalisation, seem more ‘full on’ than people in the UK and Western Europe. At the same time, obviously, people in the UK in general, and this is a generalisation too, are more laid back. This goes for Christians, as well. American people seem to be on a quest, or some purpose, whereas I would suggest that British culture and people lack a real sense of purpose, and perhaps Christianity in the UK does, too. Americans always seem to be goal oriented, whereas we Brits tend to amble along hoping everything turns out right. We could definitely learn something from our American cousins, but perhaps they could learn something from us, too. Life is both a journey and a destination. We need a purpose in life, but we also need sometimes to take stock, be content with what we have and just be glad to be alive. I noticed that people who are too consumed by any purpose, particularly when that purpose is not from God, seem to miss the blessings both large and small that God scatters all around us, but I also noticed that when people don’t have any real purpose in life they can deteriorate, not every person, but some people can lose sight of what is important. We Christians need a purpose, but we also need to know that when we are seeking God’s kingdom and putting God’s values into effect in our daily lives, He has it all in hand. We can literally let go, and let God take over. Didn’t you know, it’s that simple?!
I’ve struggled to understand for a long time what very hard right wing politics and Christianity have in common. It’s not really an issue in the UK, although it creeps in here and there, but in the US it seems that for many they are inseparable. Why? On some level, perhaps superficial, my view is that Christianity actually has more in common with a kind of communism, or more like a communalism or kibbutzim in modern day Israel, where people live together selflessly and work for themselves and the common good as well. The very word socialism, let alone communism, seems to send those on the political right in America into paroxysms of fear or hatred bordering on the pathological. Yet the Bible says this:
‘44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.’ (Acts 2:44-45)
Now, I’m no political theorist, but that sounds as darn near communism in its basic form as anything could be. Is the embracing of Christian faith by the right wing actually a pathological knee jerk attempt to distance what they see as Christian faith from that biblical description? Methinks the hard right wing doth protest too much. But by aligning themselves with Christianity, the hard, perhaps even ultra, right wing in America attempt to gain themselves a respectability they don’t really deserve, they legitimise their political stance as if endorsed by God Himself, and more worryingly refute the basic notion of Christianity, which is to love your neighbour. Let me also note, I am not saying Christianity is socialism either, because the left wing has deteriorated, too, but I do find it offensive to presume that if someone has left wing or even left of centre politics, it is rather bizarrely assumed to be at odds with a Christian faith. Not sure where that comes from. I am firstly a Christian, and then have left of centre political views. I can’t be bothered explaining why, but if someone wants to know why, I will happily explain why. But it has nothing to do with wanting to live in some socialist utopia. I believe they tried that back in Russia onetime... Nuff said.
The Prosperity Gospel?
Ah, the ‘prosperity gospel’, that gospel that says capitalism and the worship of money is actually what Christianity is all about, which again rather strangely as in the case of American right wing politics, seems to coincide exactly with the views of wealthy and powerful Americans. God evidently likes wealthy and powerful authoritarian right wing Americans, and dislikes left of centre ... er, well basically anyone who doesn’t fit into the former category. Yeehaaaaa!!! It’s obvious, being serious, that Christianity is incorporated into something that is actually, more or less, the exact opposite of what lived Christian faith should be. Say it long enough, loud enough and with as much sincerity as you can muster, and add the magic ingredient ‘expedient convenient faith’, no doubt bought from Walmart, and you too can convince yourself and many others that the worship of money and materialism is sanctioned by God, especially if you are a right wing conservative American. I did notice, rather strangely, that the very wealthiest proponents of the prosperity gospel are against unions and workers rights and no doubt a fair wage for the people doing entry level jobs. Isn’t that strange, that prosperity is only for the very wealthiest, and not for ordinary people doing ordinary jobs?
‘9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.’ (1 Tim 6:9-11)
Say goodbye to the ‘prosperity gospel’, and hello to Jesus!
Who Needs a Billion Dollars?
As the rights of workers, unions and legislation on the side of employees has been seriously undermined in Britain, and the price of university education has been tripled, there is more and more the idea we should all move on and move up in life, just as any kind of pretence to equality and fair play is itself removed. So, as things are made harder for ordinary people to move on and move up, the propaganda machine has gone into overdrive. We must all be rich, or else we only have ourselves to blame for our poverty, not the rigged economic system we now live under. In America, it seems everyone wants to become a billionaire, so they can then tell everyone how much of a regular guy they are, and they still live in a rented house and drive a good second hand car, and still eat at the local diner! You can do all those things without owning a billion dollars. God does not command us to become super rich. It is the worst folly of the Western world that the pursuit of wealth makes people happy. It doesn’t. It makes everyone hard, callous, selfish and in the end, empty and miserable. Take a look, take a real good look at any number of billionaires and super wealthy people. Do you see what I mean? Nobody needs a billion dollars. A million dollars might be nice, but I suspect the majority of people reading this blog have got by most of their lives without owning anywhere near that amount either. Where I’m standing, If I had $1500 (about £1000) that I didn’t owe anybody and it was all mine, I’d feel pretty blessed with that at the moment. The world may tell you to be wealthy, the very core of your soul may tell you that the whole vindication of your life might be to be wealthy. But, what is God saying?