Monday, October 23, 2006

What would Jesus drive?: A discussion on religious economy

Welcome to the online portion of the worst idea we've ever had, a joint blog on Christianity and anything else that seems worth talking about. Our authority on these matters is wide-ranging and widely respected, as we're a couple of university students with backgrounds in economics, political science and history. More importantly, we speak as ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church (and you can be one too, by filling out the form at the Universal Life Church website (here)). We've also sharpened our teeth with, respectively, cynical religious commentary at Notes from the Abattoir (here, though the site is non-functional for the foreseeable future), and highly influential political discussion at the Big Mac Political Hack Attack (here). Religious discussion between a former Catholic and a former Baptist should prove to be a fantastic source of peaceful cooperation. Hopefully we won't kill as many people this time around as we did during the 1500s.

This blog was originally going to be called Inspirational Messages from the Cynically Uninspired, but was changed at the last moment to reflect our recent discovery of a new debate in the U.S. over what kind of car Jesus would drive. When one of us first came up with the phrase "what would Jesus drive" a year or so ago, it was meant to be completely humorous, an attempt to extend on the profitable line of "What would Jesus do" bracelets and shirts with similarly helpful messages to Christians in search of guidance, like "What would Jesus say?", "What would Jesus read?", and "Who would Jesus fuck?" According to Dan Brown, the answer is Mary Magdalene; accoridng to the church, we're probably going to hell (or at least purgatory) for even asking. Anyways, someone more important than us has finally asked the very important question "What would Jesus drive?", and so we've decided to help develop a Christian answer. Christian answers are important because non-Christians will get their answers from the satanists lurking in the shadows if we're not Always Ready, and you just can't trust those satanists to provide reliable information, even if their founder did work in a carnival. (As did one of us, which means he might be a covert Satanic agent, so be careful.)

We were reflecting the other day over a discussion that seemed to take place between these two schools of thought on what Jesus might've drove. Here and here are the discussions. Both make some interesting points. One argues for an suv, the other argues for a fuel economy car - supposedly a compact. It got me thinking about it. I disagree with both assumptions.

Lets look at the time in which Jesus lived. There was four modes of transport: walking, camels, asses, and horses. Camels could be the fuel economy car. Asses could be the mid-sized urban vehical, and Horses would be your suv. Walking would be public transportation. Seeing the bible talks about Jesus walking everywhere, I'm left to conclude that Jesus would use public transit. Heck, He might even be the bus driver. What a great way to meet the masses, eh?

All jesting aside - althougth, I do think it leads to a more serious discussion for Christians everywhere - is the need to have a talk about religious economy. I am not talking about buying a plastic jesus to put on your dashboard of your said vehical. I am talking about being Christian in our pursuit of wealth. Is wealth pursuit a sin or not? Well, the bible says 'for the love of money is the root of all evil', but one of the seven deadly sins is sloth. We are to be productive with ourselves, and to produce goods - nothing in the bible says we can't make money either, just not to love it - but what happens in the context of production at the expense of the dominion that God gave us? How productive are we supposed to be? When reading scripture are we supposed to take away a model of the economy that is : a) capitalist? b) socialist? c) communist?

I ask this very seriously because prior to the 1700's the Catholic church insisted that wealth pursuit was a sin, and that poverty, or living within your means brought you closer to God. The Protestant movement brought in a differant kind of thinking that reflected the German nature of industrialism, and argued that sloth like behaviour was more of a sin, and wealth pursuit was a worthy cause.

Taking an example from the bible, Job was rewarded with wealth for his devotion to God, as was others. Are we to assume those who are wealthy and devoted as being looked upon by God with favor?

Looking at this from the opposite angle, as caretakers of the dominion that God has given us, if we destroy what He has created for our benefit, would He be pleased with us as his servants? Probably not.

Well, for solutions.. I don't have any. But I think I am going to jump in my car, drive across the block, pick up something to eat at the local grocery store that is wrapped in plastic and a styofoam container and microwave it high for five minutes... or not.