Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chavez : Jesus is Socialist

An update on the "New Axis of Evil"TM

Christians have been debating this contention for a while -- it's nothing new. But from the mouth of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, during the week that George W. Bush is visiting Latin America, "Jesus is a Socialist" is, well, "fightin' words...."

President Hugo Chavez calls Jesus a guiding light for his self-styled socialist revolution. But his relationship with the Roman Catholic Church is complicated and sometimes strained. Even as the leftist leader has invited Catholic priests to share their ideas on transforming Venezuela into a socialist state, he has clashed with some priests who are critical of him - and in one case declared that a Venezuelan archbishop is bound for hell.
So far, it doesn't sound so controversial. At the risk of sounding heretical (but not blasphemous), I've felt that way about certain priests and Bishops myself during my lifetime. Chavez made his particular remark about Monsignor Roberto Luckert, an archbishop who recently said that Venezuela was headed down the road to Communism, a charge Chavez rejects. His idea of "21st Century Socialism" is, to hear him tell it, true Christianity.

But many in the Church disagree with Chavez that Jesus's mission on earth was to rid the world of poverty and injustice. In a recent interview, Luis Ugalde, president of Andrés Bello Catholic University said the idea that Christ was a Socialist was "absolute nonsense."
Jesus Christ was not a socialist because socialism, if embraced seriously, is not a mere denunciation against man's oppression (this is a Christian denunciation), but the search of a fairer society in which equal opportunities reign supreme.
But many Catholics agree with Chavez, at least to the point of seeing that government has a role to play in protecting citizens from the gratuitous inequities of free-market capitalism, and to giving Chavez's motivations the benefit of the doubt.

Meanwhile, some priests have increasingly been speaking up in favor of Chavez’s ideals.

Monsignor Edgar Doria said he thinks Chavez shares Christian principles like social justice and equality, and that the church can be a key ally in social programs for the poor.

Bishop Mario Moronta wrote in a recent letter, widely published in Venezuelan media, that the church has a role to play in discussing the "21st Century Socialism" espoused by Chavez. "We are called to participate in just efforts to overcome poverty," Moronta wrote. "Every Catholic and person of good will has much to contribute."

Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush is in Colombia -- our only real ally in Latin America -- to show his concern for the poor. Most likely, he will do this by promising more money to fight Colombia's "war on drugs," which will actually go to fight left-wing guerillas, who are themselves fighting right-wing drug lords. You call this foreign policy, Howie?

At the same time, McClatchey Newspapers just published report -- based on US Census data -- that indicates poverty in America is reaching epidemic proportions.

The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty...

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period.

Okay. Fine. So Jesus was not a Socialist. I can accept that, and in fact I always have. No problem, and no argument. His mission was the forgiveness of our sins and the redemption of our souls, not to rid the world of poverty.

But Jesus was not a free-market capitalist, either. And redemption is not cheap. Our souls are not saved by empty words -- "I accept Jesus as my personal Savior" -- we have to save our souls ourselves, by our actions. We are not saved if we turn our heads at the sight of homelessness, hunger, inequality, and poverty. No matter what we tell ourselves.


Anonymous said...

These links are meant to help you...first, every front page of every newspaper for your pleasure at...

second, the FBI can hear thru your cell phone with this link...

third, concerning Jesus, here's a link about the "tomb of Jesus"...

finally, the entire listing of what the FBI knows through the Freedom of Information act through thr link...

plus the CIA's National Security Archives at...

Have a nice day...

Dr. Fallon said...

Well, anonymous (is that your real name?), thanks for your thoughts.

First of all, I look at the front pages of world newspapers frequently at the Newseum site; usually when I want to see how other countries are covering stories about the US. I would also suggest you look at Watching America, a good site that provides more in depth coverage of US stories by the world press.

Second, I don't use a cell phone, and I don't know why anyone would.

Third, yes, yes, yes... I know all about the "tomb of Jesus..." The question is, so what? If it were proved that the story of Jesus does not factually, empirically, scientifically stand up to physical archeological evidence, does that somehow make the story less important?

Fourth, the FBI's FOIA site is interesting, but not terribly important, is it? I mean, most of what's available in the FOIA files reflects the perversities of J. Edgar Hoover. Haven't we had enough of that? Now, if some REAL information were available...

Finally, I use the CIA archives at GWU frequently. Among other things, it holds the documents that provide evidence that Luis Posada Carriles, currently in custody in Miami for illegally entering the US two years ago, is a former CIA "asset" who was involved in the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976.

Have a nice day yourself.

Anonymous said...

Dr Fallon,
Thank you for your response, and the Watching America link, plus your welcome for my thoughts.
Again, have a nice day.

Dr. Fallon said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Bravo.. who could forget Matthew 25: 35 "I was hungry and you lobbied the government to tax others to feed me"

Dr. Fallon said...

Yeah. Very clever. Except it's not.

You very conveniently forget the end of that passage, Matthew 25: 42-46. "I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you refused to take me in. I was naked and you clothed me not, a prisoner and didn't visit me.

"They objected, saying "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or in prison and still ignored your suffering?' And Jesus answered them, 'I tell you truly, if you didn't do it for the least of my children, you didn't do it for me; and those will away into eternal damnation, but the righteous into eternal life."

You righties always want someone else to do good. It would kill you to spend your money on the poor.

You remind me of a line from the Pogues's "Boys from the County Hell." Perhaps Shane McGowan wrote it about you?

"But the loan of a single penny would bleed him awful raw.
And he was a miserable buttocks sons of bitch's bastard's whore."

Have a nice day!!!

W. E. Messamore said...

I saw that someone had left a link to my post, and decided to read the article and comment thread:

Dr. Fallon, I totally agree that we ought to take care of the poor, but it is incorrect to say, "You righties always want someone else to do good. It would kill you to spend your money on the poor."


...the professor's findings don't surprise me at all. Religious conservatives as a group give a lot of their income, time, and energy to improve the world and fight poverty.

Churches everywhere use the private and voluntary donations of their members to reach impoverished and needy people all over the world. They send their youths on mission trips to bring aid and the Gospel to the world.

At the same time, secular welfare statists clamor that the government does more for poverty while the numbers show that they aren't doing their part individually.

Dr. Fallon said...

I have no problem with charity -- in the truest sense of the word caritas, a loving concern for others.

Churches -- organized religion -- ought to be doing charity.

Your argument that government ought not do welfare (as opposed to the ideologically more "pure" charity) because they do it inefficiently just doesn;'t hold water. Righties, by and large, will never be satisfied with anything government odes, even when they do it well. But the point is, if you're doing it inefficiently, DO IT BETTER!!!

Dr. Fallon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W. E. Messamore said...

If you are referring to my post about the ONE Campaign, my argument is not at all that government ought not to do welfare because it does so inefficiently.

Efficacy is not the issue; ethics is. It is unethical for government to redistribute weatlh whether it does so well or not, whether its effects are "positive" or not, and whether society is doing a "good enough" job of it on a voluntary basis or not.

There are many things that I admit government does a reasonably good job of, but that's not the issue. The issue is what is the proper role of government and where are the ethical boundaries of government activity?

If you didn't completely read my article, I explain it more thoroughly there, or here (under Section V):


Dr. Fallon said...

Ethics exist within systems of values. Different values systems yield different systems of ethics.

Yours smacks of Randianism. I would hardly call them Christian.

W. E. Messamore said...

Rand has certainly been an influence on me, but my ethical objections to certain government activity is derived from the Biblical notion that it is wrong for people to aggress against each other. Theft is not condoned by Scripture and it is not justifiable. If you and I can't do it, then we cannot delegate the power to do it to others.

What you call a "Randian" and un-Christian system of ethics with respect to government can be found in the writings of John Locke (who, needless to say, predates Rand). He has been a major influence on my view of politics and he back his assertions with constance reference to both plain reason and to Scripture.

Dr. Fallon said...

Yes, I'm sure Rand has had a profound influence on you. Her "philosophy" (such as it was) was pretty much diametrically opposed to Christianity -- or, at the very least to the teachings, words, and actions of Jesus Christ.

I see the Lockian influences, yes, in your (sort of) "knee-jerk" reactionism to government as "coercion."

Government can certainly be coercive; government is by no means inherently coercive. Government is rightly formed by consent, and that consent assumes, if civil government is to exist, occasional dissatisfaction with policies, leadership, or the government itself. Government rightly coerces individuals from time to time; government coerces masses at its own peril. Government that is constantly unjustly coercive will not survive.

But the point is this: "coercion" is not really the issue; the quality and righteousness of the intent of government is what is the nature of the question.

Locke's references to scripture in no way support your contention that his views on government are "Christian." First of all, while he was a student of Christianity and Christian scripture, and attended he was himself a Unitarian Universalist. Secondly, he was writing at the end of the seventeenth century!!!

Not that there's anything wrong with the seventeenth century, or the eighteenth for that matter -- this is about the height of the Enlightenment, and the era during which the philosophical underpinnings of the United States were laid.

But this was not an era of much deep theological thinking in the Church. The Church was more concerned with untangling itself from the Roman bureaucratic tyranny (Reformation) or buttressing its own political and doctrinal power (Counter-Reformation) than it was with issues of social justice.

No, it's not really until the last century and the reforms of the Second Vatican Council that "social justice" even becomes a legitimate area of theological study. Locke's references to scripture do not make your opinions any more "Christian" than they are.

And unless I'm really missing something in your argument, the idea of caring for society's weakest -- the common good in its most basic sense -- through tax revenues as somehow "coercive" has very little of the "Christian" to it.