Saturday, December 02, 2023

The Dave Ramsey Gospel Reading

 ... is the one I was grinching about earlier.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents...Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five"...

"After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. 

He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'"

I've never heard a sermon on this passage that even came close to its meaning.

Dave Ramsey likes to say that you should live like no one else so later you can live like no one else. He's all about developing useful, marketable skills and spending less than you earn. Stay out of debt and build wealth so later, you can live well. Also, so you can give well. I can't find the direct quote right now, but he says something like, "Poor folk can't help anyone." He's spot on.

Off-topic rant: Has anyone else seen how bad the results from Google have become? It's simply awful these days.

That passage is really, really straightforward. There is moral good in making something of yourself. Sloth is a sin. Most of the rest of Jesus' teachings hinge on being able to give to others in the first place. The dude what's watching porn and smoking weed isn't a lot of good to anyone, no matter how much of what little he has he gives away.

So why can't our priests and deacons talk about this? Have we villainized success that much?

I'd suggest that instead of hating slavery, racism and imperialism, we hate success. To borrow this tidbit again from Hilaire Belloc,

Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.

It's hard to imagine that the Turks, the Mongols or even the peaceful, living-in-harmony-with-nature Apache would have eschewed the use of the Maxim Gun if they'd had access to them.

Instead of getting wound up about one warlike empire among many, we might want to ask ourselves why the Europeans developed the technologies they did. And no, "Because slavery!" isn't the answer. Everyone had slaves, but only the Christian, white, Europeans developed almost all of the technologies we use today.

Is that all this is? We don't dare praise hard work and investments from the pulpit because they reek of the white patriarchy?

Of course, none of our deacons really believe what they preach about this. They all work extraordinarily hard outside of their duties for the parish. Typically, their wives donate massive amounts of time to charity as well, all made possible by their husband's well-earned success. If they didn't take their talents and double them, they wouldn't be able to do any of it.

Dave Ramsey doing unto credit cards as they have done unto you.


tim eisele said...

"So why can't our priests and deacons talk about this? Have we villainized success that much?"

I think the issue is more that the Church is entirely dependent for its income on being given money by its parishioners. And over the centuries, they have found that an effective tool to extract money from their wealthiest members is guilt[1]. If they convince the wealthy and successful that they don't actually deserve what they have, then it is only one more step to persuade them to assuage their guilt by handing over their wealth to the Church.

So as long as villainizing success is effective for making the wealthy feel guilty enough to cough up the dough, then that's what they are going to do.

[1] It isn't just guilt, there are other levers that they can pull, like genuine empathy for others, a desire to be remembered fondly, and actual desire to glorify God through art. It's just that the guilt lever is a particuarly easy one to pull. It is also the least likely to come with preconditions on how you can use the money that comes as a result.

Ilíon said...

The upper-echelon bureaucrats of The One True Bureaucracy have a centuries-long hatred of wealth ... when it's in other people's hands. Also, they have had a centuries-long hatred of republican self-government. Both these are probably related to the fact that for centuries the only way to even become an upper-echelon bureaucrat of The One True Bureaucracy was to have been born an aristocrat ... and in all times and places and cultures, aristocrats -- those who inhabit the rarefied heights of society because their ancestors were the most effective thieves and murderers -- have scorned the earning of one's bread by honest work and honest trade.