Is so-called "mega-church Christianity" actually to blame for the recent economic problems, or is it the harbinger of a new, working faith?
So, the question before us is, did Christianity actually cause the recent market crash? Despite the deliciously incindiary title, what we find inside is instead another tired retread of "Blame the Bourgies".
That's right, folks, it's not *necessarily* Christians in general who are at fault. Rather, it is instead the particular type of uneducated Christian who has held on to hope, worked hard, took risks, and refused to believe that faith and success cannot go hand-in-hand who are ultimately to blame. It's a lament as old as Robespierre, for the same reasons, if not (for now) the same consequences.
The author's relief that the brilliant success stories so thick on the ground were currently quite a bit less-than-successful is almost palpable. After all, the one thing a good secular humanist, quite firmly holding Marx's left hand, cannot abide is working class success, with, of all things, faith at its heart. So we are treated, at the end, with the ill-disguised confusion of a person quite firmly convinced these are people being exploited while not quite being able to put a finger on exactly why they seem so enthusiastic about it.
What I think is far more interesting, and completely unremarked at any point in the article, is what a real departure this is for Christian doctrine. Jesus's core message is, at heart, one of radical egalatarianism. You don't give what you can, he says many times, you give everything you've got, and then some, and then ask if there's anything more you can give while you're at it. It worked in that time, and for most of the rest of history, because the world was so steeped in death, injustice, and misery for such a very long time. It was only through the radical repudiation of such unending horror, literally turning one's back on the world and trusting everything to God, that one could find hope in the middle of such despair.
The truly strange part is so many people did. Then again, what other choice did they have?
The modern way of life, with its wealth, safety, and plenty, is so utterly different most people literally cannot imagine it. Those who do not have to imagine it because they're sitting in it are legendary in the lengths to which they will go to escape the old world to enter ours.
The world changed, and, to an organization with an institutional memory measured in millenia, with breathtaking suddenness. Christianity's legendary adaptability, which had served it so well when its adherents were being used to light Nero's garden or feed the occasional Norse tree, had grown brittle. It could not cope with such a fundamental transformation, one that not only refused to stop but sped up seemingly out of spite. Its failure led to the rise of endless doctrines shriekingly cold yet strikingly seductive, covered in the blood of billions.
But, while down, it would seem Christianity isn't actually out. It may very well be that these oft-derided mega-churches, with their treacly tales of independence and hope, are in fact the wave of the future. If the are, it will be because THEY WORK.
In the market of ideas only ivory tower academics and their well off minions have the luxury of sneering at the masses while simultaneously refusing to DIS-believe in doctrines that at best consign those masses to beggary at the hands of the state, and at worse all too frequently to a mass grave at the hands of that state's police. The rest of us are too busy making our own way, and too practical to really trust someone who WANTS to sell his house for a Jackson Pollock original.
Instead it would seem a very large number of Americans, and most importantly of all those who are quite new at BEING Americans, have decided on a third way, one which combines enough of the faith of their fathers to be recognizable, yet which openly acknowledges and embraces those aspects of the modern world which have proven to work over the centuries: faith in yourself, in your ability to relieve your own suffering, in the desirability of this goal and its comforts, while still grounding you in the humble humility of a peasant's love.
It can, will, and does work. But only if we let it.
Lest you think your friendly neighborhood crank has finally fallen off the right side of the world, I feel it important to point out I'm not only not a Christian, I'm a card-carrying secular Buddhist who occasionally gets yelled at for teaching my heathen faith to my daughter. I just think these people deserve more, and better, than they've gotten from main stream media.