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Capitalism & Christianity?

“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.” -John Berger

I’m as guilty as the next American. I have more than I truly need while others, in this country and world, do not have what they need. We are part of a sinful system. This is the systemic sin of radical, globalized capitalism. Do not misunderstand me; this is not the community-focused capitalism of the past. 

In community-focused capitalism a shopkeeper, for example, provides products to the community. The shopkeeper, who lives in the community and is invested in its survival, provides this product because it is needed. Product decisions are made primarily based upon what is good for the community. The shopkeeper earns a fair profit for his or her troubles. This model can co-exist with the values Jesus taught because all in the community play a role in seeking the common good.

In radical, globalized capitalism products are marketed to communities based on profit potential. The corporate shopkeepers, who make decisions, do not live in our communities so they have no idea what is good for it. Profit is the prime motivator. If profit could be raised by moving a factory from one place to another, it is done. Because profit is the goal, the devastation to communities is irrelevant. This model cannot exist with the values Jesus taught because the common good is not the goal.

The culture of radical, globalized capitalism creates a mythology that teaches that wealth equals high morals. It teaches that poverty is the result of poor morals. It teaches that our purpose in life is to accumulate things. Things, using creation and others for our own profit are the focus. 

This is not the gospel of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus lead us to economics that focus on relationship, on the one-ness of humanity, on the wholeness of creation.  

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2: 43-47 NRSV Read this passage in context.

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