Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Pope" N.T. Wright asked on Facebook about capitalist consumerism's spiritual side effects

NT Wright doesn't post statuses, selfies,  pictures of cute cats, memes and pics of his lunch on Facebook..

                  but he does answer a couple of questions a month on his page (:

Like this one below; interesting in light of  (and likely inspired by) the pope's recent comments

Question 1 from Simon Meadows:
“What might Paul make of our western culture of capitalist consumerism and its spiritual side effects?”

The answer from N. T. Wright:
“Paul would recognise current western consumerism as one aspect of a cultural phenomenon he knew well, namely that of a global empire. Wealth flows to the imperial centre (think of Revelation 18). The difference between his world and ours is that the number of people at the top of the pile has increased – the elite now numbers millions. But the proportion hasn’t changed that much: for every million elite consumerists (with more possessions than they can store in their own homes!) there are a billion non-elite living in poverty or near-poverty, with very limited access to clean water, medical care, education and so on. What would shock Paul particularly is that a great many of the first category claim to be followers of Jesus, and yet some of them at least seem not to mind the fact that their wealth sits on the back of the poverty of others (held in place by the unpayable debts incurred by silly western bankers lending vast sums to corrupt dictators in a previous generation). When Peter and James told Paul to ‘remember the poor’ (Galatians 2) this wasn’t just a reference to poor Christians in Jerusalem. This was a reference to an entire way of life in which the needs of the poor became the paramount concern of Jesus’ followers. The whole western church needs to learn and re-learn this lesson, which is radically counter-cultural in our post-enlightenment world where we assume that because ‘we’ are the ‘enlightened’ or ‘developed’ ones we somehow have an automatic right to the benefits of consumerism. Of course, we are all compromised (just in case anyone supposes I am blind to my own complicity with ‘the system’: as I was writing this answer there was a ring at the doorbell and a delivery arrived from a well-known department store . . . ).  link

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