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Judi Lynn

(160,845 posts)
Sat Sep 23, 2023, 05:42 AM Sep 2023

Christian Socialists Are Reclaiming Faith from the Right

For these Christians, religion is no opiate—it’s a profound call to action.

CHICAGO — We open with a prayer. Then an eclectic array of academics, pastors, activists, social workers and blue-collar churchgoers exchange season’s greetings, thank God for bringing us together, and ask them to look after a sick family member. Today’s reading is a tough one: Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature by John Bellamy Foster. Soon enough, discussion begins. There are knowing sighs at Marx condemning the conservative Christian idea that the world is a gift from God to interminably exploit. There’s also pushback: Should we readily agree with an avowed atheist who called religion a drug?

Then there’s another prayer, this time for the then-upcoming Chicago mayoral election — everyone hopes God is on Brandon Johnson’s side — and a statement of hope about the environment. And that wraps this meeting of the ecology reading group of the Institute for Christian Socialism — a name the political Right would locate somewhere between oxymoron and heresy.

The Institute for Christian Socialism (ICS), founded in the late 2010s by scholars and activists, is one of a growing number of left Christian organizations to emerge or be revived over the past decade, from radical Black churches to LGBTQ-affirming congregations. Stridently opposed to the right-wing approach to the Gospels, Christian leftists and socialists profess a radical faith centered on our duties to the least among us.

When Jesus declared that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, or insisted that God stands with the “wretched of the earth,” he laid the groundwork for Christian socialism.

Conventional wisdom suggests all forms of socialism share a bedrock commitment to atheistic materialism, following Marx’s infamous description of religion as the ​“opiate of the masses.” Less remembered is that, in context, Marx suggests religion is something like medicinal: it’s ​“the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.” Many socialists agree with Marx’s dialectical take here, that one of religion’s major draws is how it makes sense of an unjust world. But to Christian socialists, religion isn’t merely consolation; it’s a profound call to action and good works.

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(17,057 posts)
1. Jesus was talking about HUMILITY
Sat Sep 23, 2023, 08:34 AM
Sep 2023

When referring the camel to the rich man and heaven.

Today's Evangelical Christians, many of them, are lacking humility towards the poor if they follow the tenets of the RWNJs. For Jesus focused much of His teachings that the very rich had a duty to care for the poor and lift them up.


(3,771 posts)
2. As "originalists" we turn to the words and acts of the first Christians, those living nearest Jesus
Sat Sep 23, 2023, 10:02 AM
Sep 2023

As "originalists" we turn to the words and acts of the first Christians, those living nearest Jesus, who saw and heard and understood first hand.

"Acts" describes a communal, socialist lifestyle; from and to each without personal greed and grasping.

Disclaimer: I am not a Biblical scholar nor theologian. I read, reflect, reason, readjust, relate, reward, right-alignment.
Warning: The "right" is not.

4. Etymological evidence possibly countering some Socialist interpretations of the Gospels
Tue Nov 14, 2023, 11:49 PM
Nov 2023

I have uncovered a little etymological evidence that questions some of the Socialistic interpretations of the Gospels.

The Lithuanian language is at least as ancient as Biblical Greek or Hebrew. "Dalint" means to distribute. "Dalina" means he or she distributes.

One of the followers the Lord saved was possibly named for the profession of distributing examples, referred to as magic, or
"Magija Dalina", perhaps truncated to "Mag-dalina." She was both wealthy and possessed.

Then there's Lazarus, who may have been so poor because he resisted being blacklisted into a similar profession.

Then there's Annias and Sephira. Perhaps they withheld funds obtained by the sale of their soul. Perhaps the point of the early communities was to protect those who were being pressured into such professions and the intention was that the sharing communities would fall away once society was converted to Christian principles, because they would be no longer necessary.

And, can it be the rich young man who wanted to know what he had to do to be saved should not have pressured the Lord for a guarantee when he already had his answer?


(4,399 posts)
5. They didn't speak Lithuanian in Galilee.
Wed Nov 15, 2023, 02:20 AM
Nov 2023

Lithuanian is more closely related to Sanskrit and English than to Hebrew (or Aramaic), which is not Indo-European.

Magdalene means "of Magdala". Magdala is a village on Lake Galilee, it comes from the Hebrew word for tower (migdal), and the Aramaic name meant "tower of fish", i.e. it was named after piles of salted fish.

I am not fluent in Hebrew, but the closest Biblical Hebrew words for distribute and magic are chilek and kesheph.

Mary Magdalene was one of the leaders, so maligned by patrician history that her story, and with that the story of Jesus, is forever lost, but I see nothing in the gospels or in archaeology to say that they were a band of sorcerers.

7. Your point is all supposition.
Wed Nov 15, 2023, 07:23 AM
Nov 2023

Your point is all supposition. There is no reason there couldn't have been someone from far off in Galilee. Magic need not refer to sorcery.


(19,970 posts)
8. I don't think it's simply a matter of patrician history that we lack information on Mary Magdalene
Wed Nov 15, 2023, 12:38 PM
Nov 2023

We have more knowledge about Mary Magdalene than we do about some of the twelve individual male disciples. As for Mary, it would seem she had been possessed by seven demons! So, perhaps there’s something to it…

Luke 8:1-3

8 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, ²as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, ³and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.


However, I am inclined to say the question of whether they were a traveling band of sorcerers or not is quite beside the point. — Otherwise the four canonical Gospels would have been more explicit about it, rather than simply assigning them portentous names.

To my way of thinking, each of the four canonical Gospels was intended to stand alone as "everything a Christian needs to know about the good news." If something appears in all four (say, the crucifixion, the feeding of the multitude) then that is (shall we say) “essential” if something does not (say the virgin birth) then it is less important. If something appears in none of them…
9. Where do you get traveling bands?
Thu Nov 16, 2023, 07:40 AM
Nov 2023

"However, I am inclined to say the question of whether they were a traveling band of sorcerers or not is quite beside the point. — Otherwise the four canonical Gospels would have been more explicit about it, rather than simply assigning them portentous names."

Where do you get a traveling band from? My point was Mary Magdalene might have been saved from a job involving sorcery, which had made her both wealthy and possessed.

The couple in Acts 5 may have withheld a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their souls due to being involved in a similar profession. Suppose their way of death was meant to be taken as a euphemism for being killed by the mob for holding back and not putting their faith into their salvation from the mob?

And, perhaps the point of the early communities was to save the blacklisted, until society was converted enough to not require extra support to stay out of the mob, rather than redistribution in general.


(19,970 posts)
6. The author of the US "Pledge of Allegiance" had been a Baptist preacher
Wed Nov 15, 2023, 03:12 AM
Nov 2023

Encyclopedia Britannica: Francis Bellamy
Wikipedia: Francis Bellamy
History.com: Who Created the Pledge of Allegiance?
University of Rochester: Parsing the Pledge of Allegiance

He was forced out of the pulpit, because influential members accused him of preaching socialism. He argued that he was simply preaching the Gospel.

Smithsonian Magazine: The Man Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance

The schoolroom staple didn’t originally include “under God,” even though it was created by an ordained minister

Jeffrey Owen Jones

November 2003

A key element of the commemorative program was to be a new salute to the flag for schoolchildren to recite in unison. But as the deadline for writing the salute approached, it remained undone. "You write it," Bellamy recalled his boss saying. "You have a knack at words." In Bellamy's later accounts of the sultry August evening he composed the pledge, he said that he believed all along it should invoke allegiance. The idea was in part a response to the Civil War, a crisis of loyalty still fresh in the national memory. As Bellamy sat down at his desk, the opening words— "I pledge allegiance to my flag"—tumbled onto paper. Then, after two hours of "arduous mental labor," as he described it, he produced a succinct and rhythmic tribute very close to the one we know today: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands—one Nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all. (Bellamy later added the "to" before "the Republic" for better cadence.)

But no sooner had the pledge taken root in schools than the fiddling with it began. In 1923, a National Flag Conference, presided over by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, ordained that "my flag" should be changed to "the flag of the United States," lest immigrant children be unclear just which flag they were saluting. The following year, the Flag Conference refined the phrase further, adding "of America."

In 1942, the pledge's 50th anniversary, Congress adopted it as part of a national flag code. By then, the salute had already acquired a powerful institutional role, with some state legislatures obligating public school students to recite it each school day. But individuals and groups challenged the laws. Notably, Jehovah's Witnesses maintained that reciting the pledge violated their prohibition against venerating a graven image. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in the Witnesses' favor, undergirding the free-speech principle that no schoolchild should be compelled to recite the pledge.

A decade later, following a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus—a Catholic fraternal organization—and others, Congress approved the addition of the words "under God" within the phrase "one nation indivisible." On June 14, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill into law.

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