Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ownership Society Defined: Materialism for the Godly

I figured it out....the meaning of the term Ownership Society. I've been rolling it over and over in my mind, pondering a practical, everyday definition of this lofty-sounding phrase. Finally, I get it!

Ownership Society means Materialism. Having stuff. Lots of stuff. The more stuff the better.

God's blessings are stuff in the Ownership Society. If you are good and obedient, you will be blessed. You will OWN things. If you are disobedient...maybe even subversive, radical or will not have stuff. You will be materially poor because you deserve it. And the good people shouldn't give you stuff, because you're not good, and you're not entitled to it. You don't deserve it.

I totally get the logic of George Bush's Ownership Society idea. Ultra-conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks accidentally crystalized it for me today in his piece "Ideals and Reality:"

"If you want to understand America, I hope you were in Washington on Thursday. I hope you heard the high ideals of President Bush's inaugural address, and also saw the stretch Hummer limos heading to the balls in the evening.

I hope you heard the president talk about freedom as 'the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul,' and also saw the drunken, loud and privileged twentysomethings carrying each other piggyback down K Street after midnight.

What you saw in Washington that day is what you see in America so often - this weird intermingling of high ideals with gross materialism, the lofty and the vulgar cheek to cheek.

The people who detest America take a look at this odd conjunction and assume the materialistic America is the real America; the ideals are a sham. The real America, they insist, is the money-grubbing, resource-wasting, TV-drenched, unreflective bimbo of the earth. The high-toned language, the anti-Americans say, is just a cover for the quest for oil, or the desire for riches, dominion and war.

But of course they've got it exactly backward. It's the ideals that are real."

Mr. Brooks, you've got it backward. Actions matter, not cheap, soaring words from someone who has a dicey, often estranged, relationship with the truth. Actions, Mr. Brooks. Not words. (Faith without works is dead....James 2:26)

High ideals for conquering the world, and bringing Bush-style democracy into their homes and neighborhoods. Ownership Society democracy, in which people are valued by how much stuff and things they own.

Gross materialism at home. The Ownership Society in action. The Bush-style democratic ideal for the world. (Well, almost ideal. He still needs to nuke Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All those expensive entitlements for the undeserving poor, disabled and sick. )

Really? And this is....Godly? These are ...Christian values in action?

Hmmm...let me get my Bible out. That sounds odd to this Sunday School teacher.

But wait....

"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." --- Matthew 19:21-24

Someone needs to bring Jesus up to speed on the Ownership Society.

Pronto, before he gets branded as subversive or radical. Upsetting to the good, obedient people of Godly society. I wouldn't want them to punish him.

Or kill him.

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