01 December, 2009

no thanks, john galt

This is a photo of my two favorite things about living in the Shoebox: 1) a glimpse of the giant tree that is wrapped in ivy and pressed up against the outer wall of this old shack, and 2) the thin, ancient windows that make the winter light so lovely.

I've never understood--and frankly find absurd--Christians who declare that capitalism is aligned with the gospel. American Christianity is too devoted to its health and wealth doctrine to believe otherwise, I suppose. But the life Jesus lived and the economic practice of the early church could not be further from the capitalist ideals of self-centered gain and every-man-for-himself prosperity. This is what I read this morning in my devotional time:

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need" (Acts 4:32-35).

Of course I recognize that socialism doesn't "work" now; there are too many examples of its widespread devastation to argue for that. And I'm not so ignorant to believe that we should ditch the capitalist model, which has certainly propelled America--rightfully or not--to its (fast disappearing) empire status. I'm just tired of hearing Christians rave about Ayn Rand as if she had written the fifth gospel; I'm tired of the prosperity gospel. Jesus never acted like a capitalist. That's all I'm saying.

I'm reading The Color Purple now and it is staggering to read Walker's portrait of the tyranny of men over women. Celie's story actually amplifies many of Woolf's themes: enduring sexual abuse from male relatives, finding sanctuary and subsequent attraction in women, discovering personal strength in the face of enslaving patriarchy, etc. It's strange, but whenever I read African American women writers, I get the sense that they're inadvertently channeling Woolf--only in a grittier, more expansive American style.

I admire Walker for being able to write about the darkest evils of patriarchy (incest, rape, domestic abuse, de facto slavery to one's husband) without anger. Celie just tells it like it is and lets you make the judgments. In "A Room of One's Own," Woolf criticized women authors for succumbing to anger over male dominance and letting it muddy and dilute their writing. Walker lightly evades this inclination and instead writes with compelling clarity and directness of a very hard life.

My mother reminded me on Thanksgiving that I love the idea of yoga, but that I was really built to be a runner, in my father's image.

1 comment:

sean said...

Wow, I love that post. That is an excellent example of how we Christians should live, both on the economic and emotional front. Thanks for the words.

PS. Congratulations!