Pope Francis Shocks Workers With Pro-Capitalism Pitch

“There can’t be a good economy without good businessmen, without their capacity to create and to produce,” he said, shattering his reputation as an enemy of the free market economy.

 .. Moreover, only an economically healthy society can keep a democracy afloat, he suggested.
.. “A monthly check from the state that allows you to keep the family afloat doesn’t solve the problem. It has to be resolved with work for everyone,” he said.
.. “When it’s a system of individual incentives that puts workers into competition among themselves, you can obtain some advantages, but it ends up ruining the trust that’s the soul of any organization,” the Pope argued. “When a crisis comes, the company falls apart. It implodes, because there’s no longer any harmony.”
.. The Pope said that it is “the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families” who “sustain the life of society.”
.. The Pope’s most remarkable words came when speaking about the ability of the free market to lift people out of poverty.
.. “Business is a noble vocation,” the Pope continued, “directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.”

Christians Tempted By Trump Idolatry

Jerry Falwell Jr.: No other president “in our lifetimes has done so much that has benefited the Christian community” so quickly as Trump.

.. Third, without really knowing it, Trump has presented a secular version of evangelical eschatology. When the candidate talked of an America on the brink of destruction, which could only be saved by returning to the certainties of the past, it perfectly fit the evangelical narrative of moral and national decline. Trump speaks the language of decadence and renewal (while exemplifying just one of them).

In the Trump era, evangelicals have gotten a conservative Supreme Court justice for their pains – which is significant. And they have gotten a leader who shows contempt for those who hold them in contempt – which is emotionally satisfying.

The cost? Evangelicals have become loyal to a leader of shockingly low character. They have associated their faith with exclusion and bias. They have become another Washington interest group, striving for advantage rather than seeking the common good. And a movement that should be known for grace is now known for its seething resentments.

.. the idea that the robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

.. There is first the temptation to worship power, and to compromise one’s soul to maintain access to it. There are many ways to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar, and some prominent pro-Trump Christians arguably crossed that line during the campaign season. Again, political victory does not vitiate the vice of hypocrisy.

.. to believe that the threat to the church’s integrity and witness has passed because Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election is the height of folly.

One reason the contemporary church is in so much trouble is that religious conservatives of the last generation mistakenly believed they could focus on politics, and the culture would take care of itself.

.. if Trump’s presidency collapses, that Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular are going to be the scapegoats.

.. These diehard Trump-backing Christians will have provided progressives, as well as factions within the GOP who are sick of Christians’ influence in the party, with the pretext they need to crack down. Good luck defending religious liberty when it is associated with Donald Trump

.. He has given no evidence of humility or dependence on others, let alone on God his Maker and Judge. He wantonly celebrates strongmen and takes every opportunity to humiliate and demean the vulnerable. He shows no curiosity or capacity to learn. He is, in short, the very embodiment of what the Bible calls a fool.

Some have compared Trump to King David, who himself committed adultery and murder. But David’s story began with a profound reliance on God who called him from the sheepfold to the kingship, and by the grace of God it did not end with his exploitation of Bathsheba and Uriah. There is no parallel in Trump’s much more protracted career of exploitation. The Lord sent his word by the prophet Nathan to denounce David’s actions—alas, many Christian leaders who could have spoken such prophetic confrontation to him personally have failed to do so. David quickly and deeply repented, leaving behind the astonishing and universally applicable lament of his own sin in Psalm 51—we have no sign that Trump ever in his life has expressed such humility. And the biblical narrative leaves no doubt that David’s sin had vast and terrible consequences for his own family dynasty and for his nation. The equivalent legacy of a Trump presidency is grievous to imagine.

.. Important issues are indeed at stake, including the right of Christians and adherents of other religions to uphold their vision of sexual integrity and marriage even if they are in the cultural minority.

But there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatryan attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry, for ancient Israel and for us today, when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength—the chariots of Egypt, the vassal kings of Rome—at the expense of our dependence on God who judges all nations, and in defiance of God’s manifest concern for the stranger, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. Strategy becomes idolatry when we betray our deepest values in pursuit of earthly influence. And because such strategy requires capitulating to idols and princes and denying the true God, it ultimately always fails.

Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us—in hope, almost certainly a vain hope given his mendacity and record of betrayal, that his rule will save us.

.. If — if — we learn that Trump did what he is alleged to have done, and you stand behind him even so, how do you answer the charge that Christians care so much about access to power that they will turn a blind eye when the president they support blabs extremely sensitive national security secrets to the Russians? Are we really idolaters who would sell our souls to stay in the king’s good graces?

.. There was a time when we condemned Democrats and liberals for standing by Bill Clinton, despite how he disgraced the Oval Office. We accused them of caring more about power than principle — and we were right to. Remember when the liberal journalist Nina Burleigh said in 1998, amid the Lewinsky scandal, that she would fellate Bill Clinton to thank him for keeping abortion legal? Are conservative Christians really prepared to walk a mile in her kneepads for Donald Trump? And for what?

God is not mocked.

Save the Mainline

A large share of well-educated liberal America is post-Protestant — former Methodists, ex-Lutherans, lapsed Presbyterians, the secularized kids of Congregationalists.

.. with the oldest churchgoing population and one of the lowest retention rates of any Christian tradition in the United States.

.. what those congregations offer is already embodied in liberal politics and culture.

.. enjoy a sort of cultural triumph, losing members even as their most distinctive commitments — ecumenical spirituality and a progressive social Gospel — permeate academia, the media, pop culture, the Democratic Party.

.. liberal Protestantism without the Protestantism tends to gradually shed the liberalism as well, transforming into an illiberal cult of victimologies that burns heretics with vigor.

.. as liberalism de-churches it struggles to find a nontransactional organizing principle, a persuasive language of the common good.

.. religious impulses without institutions aren’t enough to bind communities and families, to hold atomization and despair at bay.

.. Mormonism, the most demandingly communitarian of contemporary faiths

.. If pressed, most of you aren’t hard-core atheists: You pursue religious experiences, you have affinities for Unitarianism or Quakerism

.. you associate “religion” with hierarchies and dogmas and strict rules about sex

.. aren’t you being a little ungrateful, a little slothful, a little selfish by leaving these churches empty when they’re trying to be exactly the change you say you wish Christianity would make?

.. Sure, consciousness and free will are illusions, but human rights and gender identities are totally real.

The Death of Idealism

This presidential election is a contest between the oldest of the baby boomers. Yet Donald Trump, 70, and Hillary Clinton, 68, represent two very different decades in the formation of that generation. Donald Trump became famous as a classic 1980s type, while Hillary Clinton first attained public notice as a classic 1960s type.

.. During the Reagan years, writers celebrated capitalism not only as a wealth-generating engine but also as a moral system, a way to arouse hard work, creativity and trust.

.. A friend of mine came up to me at one of those parties and summarized the atmosphere: “Not indicted, not invited.”

.. As we saw on Monday night, Trump now represents capitalism degraded to pure selfishness. He treats other people like objects and lies with abandon. Proud to be paying no taxes while others foot the bill, proud to have profited off the housing bust that caused so much suffering, he lacks even the barest conception of civic life and his responsibilities to it.

.. When asked why she wants to be president or for any positive vision, she devolves into a list of programs. And it is never enough just to list three programs in an answer; she has to pile in an arid hodgepodge of eight or nine. This is pure interest-group liberalism — buying votes with federal money — not an inspiring image of the common good.

.. The twin revolutions of the 1960s and the 1980s liberated the individual — first socially and then economically — and weakened the community. More surprising, this boomer-versus-boomer campaign has decimated idealism.

.. Ironically, one of the tasks for those who succeed the baby boomers is to restore idealism. The great challenge of our moment is the crisis of isolation and fragmentation, the need to rebind the fabric of a society that has been torn by selfishness, cynicism, distrust and autonomy.

.. At some point there will have to be a new vocabulary and a restored anthropology, emphasizing love, friendship, faithfulness, solidarity and neighborliness that pushes people toward connection rather than distrust. Millennials, I think, want to be active in this rebinding. But inspiration certainly isn’t coming from the aging boomers now onstage.