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“Here have we no continuing city”

5 August 2011

The free market, if treated as sacrosanct, can subtly or explicitly encourage attitudes which are inimical to Christian life. This is particularly true in our day of multinational corporations, globalization, and consumerism. I know professed Christians, a few of them priests even, who appear to be taking their cues more from Ayn Rand than they are from the teachings of Jesus Christ. From the way some talk you would think that the highest Christian virtue is one of self-interest. And that it is immoral for the government of help for the poor and vulnerable in society.

I think that everyone should be personally charitable. But it is a travesty of Christian love to say that what is owed for the sake of justice can only be provided through the vicissitudes of charity. it is only justice to make the commitment that even when individuals fail to be charitable, even when no one shows up to feed the homeless on a particular day, people still don’t starve.

It is sometimes claimed that people must be entirely unconstrained in order for their altruism to have any moral justification. This is a specious reasoning. This kind of argument is really only a way of dismissing legitimate moral objections to unrestrained capitalism. No one, in my experience, ever seriously justifies the free market on the grounds that it better enables a more effective altruism. Tea Party Republicans did not object to Obamas  Healthcare Bill because they wanted so badly to build free hospitals out of their own pockets. Their values are clearly those of the philosophy of  Ayn Rand, who speaks of “the virtue of selfishness”.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, spoke clearly about the explicit the way in which the tyranny of communism did starkly highlight, for those who suffered from it, the essentially spiritual, rather than materialistic, nature of man. But in contrast, free market capitalism spares our lives while it lulls us into a sort of moral sleep in which we forget that “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”” (Hebrews 13:14).

Some days I feel that I ought to be crying more for the sake of my country, and for the Church in America. We have come to hate God. We think that we know Him, but we do not. For we do not love who God loves, nor how God loves.

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