Mandating Compassion Through Scripture
There are many reasons the Right's Christian Right gives for one's soul going to hell, but being rich isn't one of them. Even greed isn't given the status of other "Hell and Damnation" sins which today are Abortion and Homosexuality. Theft and murder are even given short shrift (both can be justified and easily repented, unless you're in Texas). Greed? Greed is a sin, to be sure, but it's never been touted as serious enough to send one to eternal damnation. A Wall Street denizen might be thought of as evil, but if he donates money to a university, he can't be all bad - it exonerates him in a way. Al Capone founded a successful school milk program in Chicago, so he couldn't be as greedy as everyone thought, right? So greed as a sin is, ah, somewhere down the line. Anyway, if it's capitalism, it's not greed.
But what if greed were made one of the uppermost "Hell and
Damnation" sins? What if any semblance of greed were to be treated as a
capital crime, eschatologically speaking? What if Biblical exhortations against
greed were, like the Ten Commandments, enshrined in public places? What if
religious leaders like Francis were to make it more than just a
"deadly" (meaning harmful) sin and make it THE road to hell? What if
wanting more than enough ostracized one from the community, like wearing a
large letter "G"?
Enough Is Not Enough
The road to greed lies in having enough but wanting more. Of course "enough" is relative simply because our needs are relative. "Enough" can be rationalized out of existence: a man can have "enough" after he has secured substantial livelihoods for his family, or financial security for the rest of his life, or ... anything capitalism can bring. And another conundrum: how do you determine what "enough" is when it involves a person who just can't get "enough"?
Of course, we live in a country where "enough" rarely exists. America's 1% has proven that: prosperity preachers abound, televangelists travel in private jets, bishops build "retirement" mansions. Politicians have off-shore investments, sports gods have vast estates, movie stars have hi-tech villas. If "enough" really existed, Beverly Hills would not.
Go To Hell: Greed Is The Definitive Sin
Making Greed the definitive sin is, of course, a ridiculous dream
since it is impossible in our world. Demonizing greed to extinction just can't
be done. Sure, it's always fun to think of greedy people being emptied of their
wealth and made equal and forced to admit to what is really "enough."
But greater compassion, greater charity, and greater financial equilibrium are not impossible.
Francis is opening our eyes to the fact that his variation of Monopoly may in fact be the "Game of Life."
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