Christ, Mammon and Romanticism

Here I am, late in life, and reading the Bible closely. The more I read of it the more I realize how difficult it is to be a real Christian. Thinking about this got me to thinking of other “religious” influences in my life. Two leapt to the fore: Romanticism and the worship of Mammon (i. e. the desire for wealth).

If Christianity advocates controlling anger, vengeance and other extreme emotions, Romanticism glorifies them. There are other ‘Romantic’ ideas that are embedded in our culture. One is the cult of violence and strong sensations. This helps to explain the popularity of such figures as Frankenstein, Hemingway, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Sylvester Stallone, and Donald Trump (e.g. the way he stokes the fires of hatred when he speaks in public: “Lock her up! Lock her up!” etc.) 

Romanticism also helps to account for today’s extremely violent sports:  American football, hockey, and kick-boxing. I think that indulging in such sports or watching them a lot must have an effect on one’s value system. Won’t it cause desensitization and blood lust? Won’t it cause people to feel that books full of reflections (Pride and Prejudice comes to mind) will be boring. Could this addiction to watching violence lead to admiring it and needing it as if it were some kind of drug?

In my opinion one of the worst ideas in Romanticism is that there is only one person in the world who would really fit the bill and satisfy you in every way.  I think that I have always been influenced by this idea and it has led me to pickiness, dissatisfaction with my current partner, and, inevitably it seems, loneliness. Believing in that one elusive person who must be just around the corner leads to restlessness and infidelity, resentment and guilt.

The influence of Mammon is, I think, pretty clear. From my vantage point Canadian and American society have become dangerously materialistic in recent years. Even the super-rich often seem reluctant to pay back society by paying hefty income tax or donating whole buildings (as Dale Carnegie did with the hundreds of public libraries he funded or as Frank Sinatra did when he personally funded a huge hospital in Israel.) If I were Dictator I would raise substantially the taxes on the rich. I would zero in on Donald Trump who showed incredible selfishness (and lack of patriotism)  in boasting that his not having to pay income tax last year proved only one thing: that he was smart.

I am not surprised that inflation has reached dangerous levels. Retailers are overcharging. Automobile gasoline prices have reached unprecedented highs. A few months ago I was thinking of driving to Mexico from Victoria, British Columbia. Then I did the math: even if I bought bronze level gas it would cost me at least $600. It would be cheaper to fly. In British Columbia renters of apartments were choked up to see how much landlords were permitted to raise their rent. This was the same New Democrat Party that vowed to curb inflation.

Maybe if governments offered to build highly visible statues to honor people who contributed millions to the public good some (even many) rich people might be willing to donate generously  in order to celebrate themselves.

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