Contradictions of Capitalism
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Christ In All Men

In case my account of Caryll Houselander's vision of Christ In All Men may have left anyone who hasn't read the book with the idea that it was a sweet but vague sentiment, here are some key passages from her description of the experience and its implications:

I had long been haunted by the Russian conception of the humilated Christ, the lame Christ limping through Russia, begging his bread; the Christ who, all through the ages, might return to the earth and come even to sinners to win their compassion by his need. Now, in the flash of a second, I knew that this dream is a fact; not a dream, not the fantasy of a devout people, not the prerogative of the Russians, but Christ in man...

Although [the vision] did not prevent me from sinning again, it showed me what sin is, especially those sins done in the name of "love," so often held to be "harmless"--for to sin with one whom you loved was to blaspheme Christ in that person; it was to spit on Him, perhaps to crucify Him. I saw too the reverence that everyone must have for a sinner; instead of condoning his sin, which is in reality his utmost sorrow, one must comfort Christ who is suffering in him. And this reverence must be paid to those sinners whose souls seem to be dead, because it is Christ, who is the life of the soul, who is dead in them; they are his tombs, and Christ in the tomb is potentially the risen Christ. For the same reason, no one of us who has fallen into mortal sin himself must ever lose hope....

I knew too that since Christ is One in all men, as He is One in countless Hosts, everyone is included in Him; there can be no outcasts, no excommunicates, excepting those who excommunicate themselves--and they too may be saved, Christ rising from death in them.

Christ is everywhere; in Him every kind of life has a meaning and has an influence on every other kind of life.



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The priest who preached my retreat this weekend said that the problem with the Occupation is that so many of areas that the protesters are addressing are problems that can only be solved by living as Christians. I had been thinking a bit along those lines.

First, many of the problems that need solutions are in areas that used to be within the pervue of the Church. It was the Church that cared for the poor and built hospitals. As government has taken over these functions, Christians have backed away thinking, I suppose, that they weren’t needed as much. Also, I think that government regulations may prevent Christians from doing things they might otherwise do. This backing away first became evident to me when our 19 year old, unmarried daughter was pregnant. She wasn’t in college, and, therefore, had no insurance. I called the office of a doctor in our city who was well-know for helping girls in this condition. The receptionist informed me that he no longer delivered babies for unwed teens like this because they were now covered by Tenncare. And they were, so my daughter had a free doctor and hospital stay, and she was treated terribly, instead of having the concerned care of someone who was committed to life.

And then again, I think that many of the barriers to success that these young people see in their lives are the sort barriers that we need to overcome ourselves—with God’s help, of course. It’s in dealing with challenges like this that we become responsible adults.

After the talk when I was back in my room, I read this in one of Caryll Houselander’s letters.

What I mean is that it is my absolute belief that Christianity alone can do any good in the world now; and when I say “do any good,” I do not mean—produce economic reform, or better drains, or a fuller medical service, or brighter trade unions. I’m not meaning to belittle such reforms, etc., but whereas they have come to mean everything to a lot of thinking people, I believe that they would be the inevitable result of Christianity, but aiming at them without a very definite Christianity first is futile. What I do mean by Christianity is:

(a) First of all what Christ taught. We can’t solve half the problems asking for solutions, but He knows all the answers; and in any case a Christian state or world, built on one or two things He taught, plus a vague desire for a “better world,” is nonsense.

Secondly (or “b”!): by Christianity I mean a faith which will give some coherent answer to the difficulties about suffering, the suffering of innocence in particular: that will give people comfort in suffering (in the true sense of the word “comfort,” i.e. “to make strong”): that will guarantee and somehow keep fast the ideal of love, and will keep human love and [love of] the world as its first value, and which will increase life, spiritual and physical, at all times, in all circumstances.

I'll have to wait till later to say more, but: yes.

The point you and your priest make (your first paragraph) is one that a lot of conservatives have made over and over again, but liberals just scoff. In their minds, either you agree with their approach to helping the poor and the sick, or you want the poor and the sick to suffer. It's almost like invincible ignorance. It makes one (this one, anyway) grit one's teeth, because it assigns the moral high ground to someone who merely holds the opinion that the government should help the poor and the sick.So, I agree completely, and I think a lot of people do, but it's a very difficult case to make to the modern world.

Re your 2nd paragraph: I've chuckled at some, and been annoyed at others, of the OWS kids who seem to believe that there is some grave injustice in the fact that they owe student loans. The clip of the girl that I posted a few weeks ago, which I liked, started off with her complaining that "I have a job--and I still owe money!" Well, sorry kid, but I've had a job for most of the past 40 years, and I still owe money.

A part of their anger ought to be directed at the education system. They are in part victims of the higher-ed bubble that I've mentioned before and keep meaning to get back to.

The Houselander quote is pretty much what I think, of course. I liked what you said...I think it was at Craig's blog...about the impossibility of ever truly *solving* the economic problem.

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