December 24, 2008

Virtue and Visa Cards

John’s latest is a hilarious and insightful take on contemporary Christianity and the culture of debt and consumerism. I do disagree, however, that the origins of this have much to do with an “aristocratic disdain for financial prudence.” Orson Wells’s line about the Borgias and Cuckcoo Clocks is a kind of parody of the ?ber-Nietzschean “Affirmation of Life,” something that would be resoundingly rejected by most everyone in debt-ridden American society—especially the serious Christians. I decided to ask John to write an article on Christianity, Christmas, and Thrift after I walked into a Barnes and Noble recently and saw on sale a mound of paperback copies of Live Your Best Life Now!, the manifesto of evangelical preacher Joel Osteen. (Your best life now, not, yaknow, afterwards—what a profoundly anti-Christian sentiment!) This kind of feel-good fundamentalism, and not fire and brimstone, seems to be the dominant ideology in most of America’s Megachuches. (And I imagine we’ll get a large helping of it when Rick Warren delivers his homily to Obama on inauguration day.) Though American Christians certainly condemn hedonism and the culture of “if it feels good, do it,” the fact is, they have gotten caught up in the leveraged-up-to-your-eyeballs, high-interest, stick-you-kids-with-the-bill, deficits-don’t-matter American lifestyle just as much as your average tattooed, Gen-Y, bisexual mallrat. Christians need to rediscover Thrift—-the manly virtue of production and savings. John’s article is a step in the right direction.

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