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Wealth of all kinds

The other day I first heard the term "prosperity theology." I was curious about it, since those are not two words one ordinarily hears together. I thought perhaps it had to do with managing one's spirituality and physical-world responsibilities? Or with how best to pray for material things? I remembered that, in my web research on Habondia, I came across a number of websites listing different deities concerned with abundance--maybe it was something of that sort? It didn't seem like an unreasonable concept--so many people have a hard time balancing spiritual issues with the rest of their lives, and certainly some major (and not-so-major) religions tend to promote the notion that spiritual comfort and physical comfort don't go together--but it was a new one to me.

Turns out that "prosperity theology" is none of those things. What it is, is the notion that a god (or gods) blesses his (or their) best followers with riches in the physical realm. This means that one's fellows can tell just how much favor you have with deity just by looking at the size of your house and the newness of your car. Apparently it's most common in some evangelical Christian churches, which seems counterintuitive given what I know of Christian theology--granted that that may not be a great deal (although apparently there is such a thing as "Christian materialism" as well)--although I think you see a variation on it in some Pagan/Heathen faiths as well (for example, some (not all) Theodish heathens may measure one's "luck" by one's degree of traditional success).

I find this disappointing but unsurprising--unsurprising because people like to know where they stand, and ordinarily there's no sure way to tell this with religious matters. If they can use something as easily quantified as wealth as an indicator, life is simpler and goals are more easily chosen. And disappointing because, well, it's such a narrow view. The separation of material and spiritual isn't a good thing either, of course--you don't get a free pass to the good part of the afterlife just by virtue of being poor (regardless of what the Church used to tell the poor in olden times in order to keep them in their place). But equating them? Bad idea.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 29th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
it's a very calvinist notion, that of 'predestination,' that people are predestined to go to heaven, and you can tell who they are because they are 'successful' (usually measured financially). so if you're a good calvinist (and some others probably) you do everything you can to make sure you are (financially) successful to show how you are one of god's chosen.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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