Before I move on to look at Jesus as a revolutionary, I want to take a brief detour and make one important comment about consumer capitalism as we practice it today.
As consumers, we’re deluged with advertising 24/7 on TV and the Internet and all the other media, and then there are the shopping malls where we can work it out. At that end, where of course the poor and middle class are – the receiving end – there is a relentless media message to act on greed, also known as avarice: “I want more! I’ve got to have the latest style, the latest car, the latest refrigerator! Enough is never enough!”
That’s the message we’re being fed, and to live a balanced spiritual life, we have to resist that message.
And then at the other end, Wall Street—which is driving all this teaching of avarice to the poor and middle class–is gathering up all the profits and wallowing in the profits to be made by consumer credit card debt – and that, too, is about avarice.
You can see it at both ends of our economic system as it’s now evolved: we live (or try to) in a system built entirely on avarice at both end of the scale: at the selling and investment and speculation end, and the buyers end.
Of course capitalism has evolved like everything else, and it’s not evil in itself, but like anything else humans do, it has a huge shadow, and the shadow can swallow us up. It has to evolve profoundly all over again if we are to survive as a species.
So avarice is the motivating factor at both ends of our economic system. Now, I do not know one religion on earth – and I’ve spent some time studying all of them! – that proposes that avarice is healthy for human beings. In the West it’s called one of the great capital sins. And in the East, the Buddhists are fierce about avarice, and the Muslims also. Islam is even fierce about charging interest on loans, and so is the Jewish tradition.
Avarice is not good for the soul. It is not good for the planet or for children or for animals or for plants or for adults who ought to be loving all these beings and more, cherishing them in their hearts. It makes madmen of adults. Avarice is an addiction that feeds on others’ addictions. Economic avarice makes people sick. It makes them less than people, less than human. And we honor it.
Our economic heroes are misers, those who can make the most money (on whose others’ backs does not matter). Those who have the most resources at hand (such as high-priced lawyers, and access to legislators and judges) to make laws that favor only them so they can escape paying taxes, move accounts off shore, borrow money from Main Street at low interest rates and then turn around and rape Main Street all over again.
So here we have an economic system that runs on avarice, against the ethical principles of all the world’s spiritual traditions – and no one’s screaming?
I think Jesus would be screaming!
He didn’t only scream in his lifetime – Bruce Chilton, in Rabbi Jesus, says that Jesus organized a whole team of 200 people to go into the Temple and turn over the tables of the moneylenders. It wasn’t just Jesus doing it, as is shown in the paintings of the event. It was a whole strategy, bringing 200 people that day to turn things upside down and wake the people up.
What are we doing to turn things upside down and wake people up in our day?
I feel that Occupy is and was such an effort, and it had and is having some effects. I do not think the younger generation is buying into all the propaganda that Wall Street and its puppet media are trying to sell us.
So next time I’m going to look in greater depth at Jesus’ role as a revolutionary in his time, and how we can follow in his footsteps today.
To register for the “Cosmic Christ and Youth: The Occupy Generation,” the next Christ Path Seminar weekend taking place 10/11-13, featuring Adam Bucko as guest speaker, and based on Matthew Fox’s and Adam Bucko’s groundbreaking book, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, see http://www.christpathseminar.org/ai1ec_event/cosmic-christ-and-youth-the-occupy-generation/?instance_id=99
To order the complete 12-DVD set of recordings from the first Christ Path Seminar weekend, “Cosmic Christ and the New Humanity”– including Dr. Fox’s delivery of the Saturday afternoon lecture from which this post is clipped, see http://www.christpathseminar.org/participate-by-dvd/
Be sure to sign up on the Christ Path Seminar mailing list to receive word when the DVDs from the second weekend, “Cosmic Christ and the Historical Jesus,” are released!