Capitalism Theology: The Struggle Between Good and Evil, Capitalists and Anti-Capitalists
In America, almost every issue offers irrefutable biblical “proof” that God sides with whoever is making a point. Some stories, like the parable of the money changers, have become so standard they’re clichés. But Rev. Morgan Guyton of Virginia’s Burke United Methodist Church breaks the cliché with a fresh idea – capitalism has its own theology. The eternal struggle between good and evil becomes the struggle between capitalists and anti-capitalists.
But first, some review for those decades-removed from Sunday school or, like me, secularists.
In this corner, the capitalists – Matthew 25:14-30 tells the story of a master who gives his three servants money to invest on his behalf. Two of them get a ROI roughly equal to a possibly illegal hedge fund – 100%. The conservative servant/investor buries the money for fear of being over-leveraged. He makes zero for the boss, which is probably much more likely than a 100% return. The master gives the two “entrepreneurs” a hefty quarterly bonus for taking a big risk with someone else’s money and punishes the “victim” by closing the sandal factory the other two bought and outsourcing his job to the Romans. Everyone lives happily ever after…except the poor sot who feared exactly what eventually happened – he’d lose the boss’s money and end up begging alms.
Money Laundering Down at the Temple
In this corner, the anti-capitalists – According to Matthew 21:12, Jesus goes all biblical on the money changers’ asses and tosses them out of the temple. Their sin was money laundering – changing one more-valuable currency for one with less silver, but the same face value. They split the profit between themselves and a high priest (the dude in the Popemobile knows of whom I speak) at the expense of religious pilgrims. The good folk from Main St., if you will. Ironically, they did this to allow the pilgrims to pay a church tax. With a sweet deal like that, today’s capitalists would convert from anti-tax zealots into prophets singing the praises of higher taxes overnight.
Matthew meant the parables as a comparison between Old Testament Grouchy God and New Testament Chillaxin’ Jesus. The problem is that it’s a long time between 2012 and the year to 1 AD. Why, Earth was only 4,000 years old back then.
In Matthew’s day, capital was a mushy concept. You didn’t trade a camel for a goat because you intended to develop a bitchin’ new goat roping app for an iPhone made by Chinese prison labor. You traded because goats taste better than camels and a goat sandwich sounds pretty tasty when your stomach is growling like, well, a camel. Today, capitalists brunch on money and all the goats and camels they can stuff in their mouths. Unfortunately, the money, goats, and camels usually come from those who can least afford it. It’s a bit like the Seinfeld Soup Nazi telling a hungry customer, “No goat sandwich for you”.
Today’s capitalists aren’t much like Grouchy God either. He may have been a mean SOB, but at least he was consistent and had a certain brutal honesty and fairness to his tantrums. The same story today would show the same meanness, but from a different source. The hedge fund managers would’ve skipped town for the Caymans with the master’s money and mugged the third servant on the way out of Dodge.
The Bible Proves Evolution is True
Of course, the ancient hedge fund managers didn’t break any laws. They were totally unregulated. Today’s hedge fund managers conveniently forget that our regulations came from two centuries of hedge fund managers and their bosses acting just like the guys in 1 AD. Of course that doesn’t stop them from complaining. They can make 1000% ROI and float everyone’s arks if we just let them run rampant and rapacious. We know this because the ethical standards in today’s Economic Bible are a bit loose. If you don’t like the law, just ignore it, pay a money changer to rewrite it, or buy the vote of a politician even more craven that yourself.
Matthew, a devotee of Chillaxin’ Jesus, would be appalled. He supported Jesus in a big way. He even worked for Jesus’s campaign. But, Jesus just wasn’t delivering the goods. In fact, Matt heard rumors Judas and Jesus had thrown in their lot with a band of grifters running a Ponzi scheme. Their honcho was a Jewish guy, Matt thought his name was Bernie Madoff or something.
So here’s my proof of a much-debated biblical construct – evolution (or at least reverse evolution) – and I use these two Bible chapters to bolster my case.
The ancient capitalists, the ones with disposable income to invest, honestly promoted entrepreneurial risk-taking by little guys. They came out on top and got a share of the wealth. True, the third servant got his ass kicked, but that’s how the literal “free market” at the heart of the Sumerian Dream worked.
However, capitalists began to consume Main St. while offering other organisms nothing in return. In the end, they evolved a “free market” ecosystem that resembled, “If I make manna, I’m rewarded. If I ruin the manna, I’m still rewarded,” construct. They developed an astonishing virulence and line the pockets of their Brooks Bros. exoskeletons with huge quantities of manna. They’ll lie, cheat, steal, or fence their Mother’s KitchenAid Automatic Manna Maker to do it. Today, they are a huge organism that takes over all it can touch to eat every scrap of manna.
Their scientific name, if I actually believed in science, is Pondus Scuminus.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor.