Saturday, November 22, 2008

new class theory (which is not so new anymore)



in this post i want to continue with this theme of how class and not religion and not theology often determines points of view in the culture war.

the basic idea here is that how we were raised, how we have learned to view the world -- what lenses we were given to see it - what values we obtained from our education or lack thereof, our family background, our manners, refinement and grooming, or lack thereof, all of this gives us our own particular group Zeitgeist.

another way to say this is to say that very often what we see as the particulars of the kingdom of God comes not from holy writ, much less from jesus or the holy spirit. no what passes for "truth" for our group is often based upon our social class.

peter l. berger has written extensively on this subject, and it's his thought that i am following closely. he writes:

"Precisely the issues on which Christians divide today are those that are part of the current class struggle and of the Kulturkampf that symbolizes it. One of the easiest empirical procedures to determine very quickly what the agenda of the new class is at any given moment is to look up the latest pronouncements of the National Council of Churches and, to a somewhat lesser extent, of the denominational organizations of mainline Protestantism.


Conversely, virtually point by point, the Christian New Right represents the agenda of the business class (and of other strata interested in material production) with which the new class is locked in battle. What is more, while undoubtedly there are religious reasons for the upsurge of right-leaning evangelicalism, much of it can in all likelihood be explained as a reaction against the power grab of the new class. In that, of course, evangelicals are part of a much wider reaction, the political crystallization of which (temporary or not -- that remains to be seen) was the major event of the 1980 national elections. As to the reasons for this alignment of different religious bodies, they could not be simpler: the main reason, of course, is the class character of the respective constituencies of these bodies."


this article appeared in 1981, but tell me it doesn't explain, for example, the current debate on whether to give money to the big three auto makers or not?

anyway, my the point here is that we must be very careful not to entangle the kingdom with the latest political agenda, either from the left or the right. the kingdom must be a-political or post-political or even anti-political, but it must no longer be politically driven. this is easy to say, but very difficult to accomplish.