Kevin Roose spends some time at one of the soirees put on by the Wall Street Masters of the Universe: a passel of the sort pathetic moral dwarfs to whom God, in his providence, guarantees power when a civilization forgets Him. In the flabby hands of these grasping, puny-minded, and wicked men and women lies the earthly future of our civilization. These latter-day Neros are exactly the sort of self-indulgent buffoons who bid fair to burn the world down around them for fun and profit and take millions–or billions–of innocent lives with them. It is for their souls and against their sins (which are our sins too) we must pray and work. Somewhere in their chest cavities there still beats the shriveled hearts of human beings. But they are so cocooned by the deadening effect of pride and avarice that you can’t help but fear for their eternal souls. May God free them from the prison they live in–and us from the slavery of admiring them and marching to their drums.
May God free Christians–particularly American Christians–from our foolish attempt to figure out a way to serve God and Mammon. Chesterton has it right:
Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man’s environment, but in man. Further, she has maintained that if we come to talk of a dangerous environment, the most dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment. I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest–if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this–that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy. Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world. For the whole modern world is absolutely based on the assumption, not that the rich are necessary (which is tenable), but that the rich are trustworthy, which (for a Christian) is not tenable. You will hear everlastingly, in all discussions about newspapers, companies, aristocracies, or party politics, this argument that the rich man cannot be bribed. The fact is, of course, that the rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man. The whole case for Christianity is that a man who is dependent upon the luxuries of this life is a corrupt man, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor. A Christian may consistently say, “I respect that man’s rank, although he takes bribes.” But a Christian cannot say, as all modern men are saying at lunch and breakfast, “a man of that rank would not take bribes.” For it is a part of Christian dogma that any man in any rank may take bribes. It is a part of Christian dogma; it also happens by a curious coincidence that it is a part of obvious human history.