Self-Aggrandizing Ego and Eternal Suicide

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Bank robbers and drug dealers aren’t the only ones who turn their backs on God until they get in trouble. We’re all prone to do this.

Jail house conversions are the stuff of bad jokes and legend. Once in a while, one of these literal “come to Jesus” events holds up throughout the rest of a person’s life. More often, the repentant sinner reverts to their old selves as soon as the bad times pass.

The difference between the convicted felons and the high and mighty of the world in terms of conversion is a matter of circumstance, not righteousness. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that I find it much easier to deal with an alcoholic or a philanderer who knows that they are doing wrong than with a self-righteous, self-worshipping upstanding citizen who only sees the crimes and faults of others. 

It is possible to work with the miscreant who knows they have faults. The person who is so sure of their rightness, not so much.

Pope Francis gave a homily yesterday that I think every successful and powerful person should hear. It doesn’t matter if you are an elected official, the head of a corporation or a doctor who is using the medical technology at your disposal to exploit your patients, your soul is always in great peril, precisely because of your successes in the arena of life. 

It is too easy to become what the Holy Father calls “corrupt,” which is to say, self-sufficient to the point that you no longer think you need God. The first corruption is always, as Elizabeth Scalia wrote in Strange Gods, making a false idol of yourself. The first challenge of the high and mighty isn’t adultery or abortion or lying or stealing or any of the sins people commit with such reckless disregard for consequence. The first challenge is narcissism. 

Self esteem is not usually a problem for the lords of this world. Realistic self-assessment is. The harbinger of all internal corruption of the powerful is always self-referencing self-adulating self-worship. It is so easy to think that god (little g) is made in your image when nobody tells you “no,” when your jokes are always funny and lunch is always free. 

It is, as Jesus told us, easier by far for a successful person to feel they have gained the world and in their smugness, lose their own souls. 

Self-corrupted people like this are found inside the Church as well as outside it. Clergy get a heavy dose of unearned respect and adulation along with equally unearned abuse. This is unbalancing for anyone. They are talented people with the ability to persuade others. Their verbal skills are the equal of any politician’s and the temptations they face are often startlingly similar. 

That’s probably who Pope Francis was zeroing in his homily this morning. I don’t know, but I would guess that he was talking directly to some of the people sitting in his audience. However the truth of his homily, like all truths about human nature, are universal. 

We are killing ourselves spiritually with our self-aggrandizing egos. It is a form of suicide that can last for eternity. 

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Pope Francis: Walking Past Lazarus on the Way to Hell

“Financiers, economists and politicians consider God as manageable, even dangerous because God calls man to his full realization and independence from any kind of slavery.” Pope Francis

Money is God

When money is your god, you are well on your way to creating a hell on earth.

We have gone so far down the road of making money our god in this society that we basically exempt any public policies that have to do with business or finance from moral scrutiny. Some of the most ardent Christians are the ones who enforce this heretical nonsense. 

The same people who go into a froth over abortion do not raise an eyebrow when it comes to limiting prenatal care or refusing to require businesses to provide safe work environments for their employees. There is no piece of legislation that limits access to care for the poor that these folks won’t support. They are the enemies of the welfare state … except when it comes to corporations. No deal is too special, no government hand-out too abusive to deserve a second look when it comes to business.

It’s as if Jesus never said a single word about “the least of these” except as it applies to abortion. You would think that it was a moral imperative to drain the public coffers dry and hand the money over to a few corporations and wealthy campaign donors who sit at the top of the social pile. These Christians never consider whose money it is in the first place when they take it from the many and give it to the few. 

According to them, people are poor because they are lazy, stupid and deserve what they get. On the other hand the wealthy are rich because they are industrious, productive and deserve all they can get. 

Government has become a wholly owned subsidiarity of the rich and shameless. In the hands of these moral Christian politicians, government is a method for funneling the wealth of generations into a few hands and impoverishing the rest of our society. 

This particular form of sinfulness is committed by those who are usually the most vociferous in claiming their loyalty to Christ. They are “pro life” and they usually support “traditional marriage,” so in their little minds that means that everything else they do is, by definition, righteous and holy. You would think that we are saved, not by the cross, but by checking off the right boxes on candidate surveys by a couple of political support groups. 

When money becomes your god, you are well on your way to creating a hell on earth. I would guess that you are also well on you way to going to the actual hell one day, as well.

Money is a human invention. Wealth and poverty are symptoms of our fallen nature. There is nothing divine or holy about either one of them. That is not to say that they are necessarily evil. They are, simply, tools and reality. Money is a tool. Disparity of wealth is a reality.

But greed, graft and government corruption are sins. When we carry them to the point that they impoverish millions while enriching a few beyond the dreams of avarice, they are deadly sins, both in this world and the next. 

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It’s a simple equation, really. Do not walk past Lazarus; not if you want to go to heaven one day. 

Pope Francis spoke about this concept of money as a means rather than an end today when he addressed the new ambassadors to the Holy See from Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, Luxembourg and Botswana. 

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“Money has to serve, not rule” he told them … wanting power and possession has become limitless … the sprawling of corruption and tax evasion has gone global.

“The Pope urges a return to the unselfish solidarity and ethics in favor of man in financial and economic reality,” he said. “The Pope loves everyone rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. This would take a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders … I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. 

The excerpts of his discussion below are from CNA:

“The joy of living is decreasing, indecency and violence are the the rise and poverty is becoming more evident,” said Pope Frncis.

“You must fight to live and often to live in a non-decent way … We have created new idols, the ancient worship of the golden calf has found a new and ruthless image in fetishism of the dictatorship of the economy without purpose nor a truly human face,” he said. 

“It reduces man to one of its demands, consumption and even worse, the human being is today considered himself as a commodity that you can use and then throw away … Financiers, economists and politicians consider God as manageable, even dangerous because God calls man to his full realization and independence from any kind of slavery …” (Read the rest here.) 


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