If You Want Atheism, Destroy Creation, Embrace Capitalism.
deduc me Domine in via tua
et ingrediar in veritate tua
laetetur cor meum
ut timeat nomen tuum
Saint Bonaventure begins his Journey of the Mind to God with a basic itinerary, “Since happiness is nothing other than enjoyment of the highest good and since the highest good is above, no one can be made happy unless he rise above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart.”
This cannot be done, however, “unless a higher power lift us up.” That is, we can be carried up to the Divine solely with the help of the Divine.
This is a mystical journey that takes us through the whole of the visible and invisible order. “In relation to our position in creation, the universe itself is a ladder by which we can ascend into God.” [Tweet this]
— Mr. Keith M Estrada (@keithmestrada) January 10, 2016
Though we should note that our journey to God, who is invisible, spiritual, eternal, and above us, absolutely requires that we “pass through his vestiges, which are material, temporal and outside us. This means,” Bonaventure writes, “to be led in the path of God.”
* * *
You do not have to believe that climate change is real, or that humans play a major role in its occurrence, to admit that we abuse, exploit, and constantly destroy God’s creation.
We have used capitalism – and the methods of capitalism (USSR, China, etc.) – in our journey to false-happiness by the power of false-liberty. By having produced so much material wealth, we have managed to destroy local ecosystems, push families away from their lands, and turn life – human and organic – into a commodity to be used, exchanged, and discarded.
If one’s journey to God requires that we protect and defend the lives of each other, as well as respect and revere the vestiges of God, we propose an opposite, that is, an anti-journey to God, as we begin to support and reinforce an atheism, a materialism, when we commodify God’s creation.
It is no wonder, then, that the Blessed martyr, Archbishop Oscar Romero would write, “There is an ‘atheism’ that is closer at hand and more dangerous to our church. It is the atheism of capitalism, in which material possessions are set up as idols and take God’s place.”
Similarly, the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen would explain, “As Christ was crucified on Good Friday by false liberty, so is man crucified today. Liberalism and capitalism which were indifferent to morality and truth did not give us liberty but only the right to be individually selfish.”
“Liberalism and capitalism …
did not give us liberty but only
the right to be individually selfish.”
+ Fulton Sheen [Tweet this]
Our fetishes not only take God’s place, they take the place – and the life – of those vestiges which would otherwise assist us in our journey to God.
Using Ven. Sheen’s language, the destructive tendencies of capitalism, as Pope Francis discusses in Laudato si’, do lead to a crucifixion of God’s creatures. How can we expect to establish a culture of life where we embrace and fetishize an economic system and its processes at the expense of creation? If the visible, external world is nothing but a commodity in the journey for riches, why wouldn’t the unseen, vulnerable life in the womb be considered as without intrinsic value, or viewed as a threat to personal wellbeing or progress?³Moreover, how can one expect to find religious fervor when we have broken our “ladder” in the journey to God, by demolishing creation for new, shiny gods of wealth and status? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to find such a passionless atheism in the West where the only journey our socioeconomic structures prefer and reinforce is the journey for the self.
* * *
Towards the beginning of Saint Bonaventure’s Journey, we read “omnia sint pulcra“, “all things are beautiful”. Things are beautiful in proportion to the Beautiful One. Imagine how unsuccessful one would be in demonstrating God as Beauty, if beauty is torn apart and sold for mere financial gain in front of our eyes.
Quoting from the book of Wisdom, Bonaventure adds, “For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.”² Even the magi saw in creation a guide to the Messiah (cf. Matt 2).
The mystical journey requires that we look for signs of God in and through the external, sensible world, as God created it. So long as we continue to destroy it, we’re only stunting the actualization of the Kingdom of God.
This is why it makes sense to resort to casting images on St. Peter’s Basilica, to remind us of God in creation.
While many Christians mistakenly believe capitalism can be embraced with their creed, we’ll see an unintentional false-catechesis leading some communities to think that alienation and the exploitation of labor and the earth is acceptable. while leading others to believe that this alienation and exploitation is compatible with Christianity, leading to rejection of the Faith – both outcomes running contrary to the mission of the Church.
Where some will find themselves hostile to religion and any notion of the transcendent, of the Divine, I heartily suggest defending and promoting the anti-God socioeconomic system you may readily find in the West. If you want atheism, destroy creation, embrace capitalism.
Until next time,
¹ Lead me, Lord, in your path,
and I will enter in your truth.
Let me heart rejoice
that it may fear your name.
² Wisdom 13:5; I recommend reading the entire chapter.
³ I heartily recommend reading one of my favorite papers on this topic: Dr. Matthew Tan’s “Abortion in/as Consumer Structure” (2014).
The photo above was taken just before sunrise on the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (New Year’s Day) of 2016.