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Tuesday, February 07, 2017


Looks like Betsy DeVos is getting in, thanks to an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from Pence. The only thing that can save the situation is a last-minute Republican defection, which seems very unlikely. (Update: No defections occurred; she got in.)

Everybody knows that DeVos is a staunch fundamentalist Christian. Everybody knows that she owes her millions to the Amway fortune. And everybody knows that Amway is a total scam.

I was onto those evil bastards at the age of ten, when my friend's father got hooked in by the okie-doke and lost his savings. That experience turned me into a life-long cynic -- in fact, it awakened an interest in socialist alternatives to capitalism. After studying the issue, I decided that the problem was not capitalism per se; the trouble begins when con artists transform capitalism into a kind of cult or religion.

Such was my conclusion then; such is my stance now.

What I hated most about Amway and all similar schemes is that they destroy all normal social interactions and eradicate the line dividing work and non-work. The company pressured its marks (or "representatives") to transform each glancing encounter with other human beings into an "opportunity" for salesmanship -- and for recruitment into the cult. After a certain point, my mom couldn't talk to my friend's parents without the conversation being derailed by fucking Amway.

MLM schemes are a sociological bioweapon designed to convert all of civilization into a network of salesmen selling salesmenship to other salesmen, forever and ever, amen.

In that sense, the Amway cult resembles the equally devious cult of fundamentalist Christianity. In both cases, those within the cult feel pressured to make every friendly chat an opportunity to score a conversion.

That's no way to live our brief lives. In fact, that's a recipe for loneliness and antagonism and misery. And floating atop that vast sea of loneliness, antagonism and misery are a few yachts carrying smiling, smug zillionaires.  

My question: How can Betsy DeVos call herself Christian?

Her money comes not from the provision of honest goods and services. Her money comes from loneliness, antagonism and misery. From a goddamned cult.

Every so often, we do well to remind ourselves of the basics:
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Obviously, Jesus favored the redistribution of wealth. There's no other way to interpret this text. (Nota bene: That young rich man's fortune was probably acquired honestly. The same can't be said for the DeVos fortune.)

I'm sure that Betsy DeVos has found a way of convincing herself that this passage (from the tenth chapter of Mark) doesn't really mean what it obviously means. For many years, fundamentalists have concocted all sorts of clever arguments to convince themselves that this passage does not mean what it obviously means. All such arguments are pure doubletalk. You can't have a cult without casuistry.

Betsy DeVos can screech about Jesus at the top of her lungs for the rest of her life. But she is no Christian.

You don't have to be a Christian yourself to come to this conclusion. John James Audubon was not a bird, but he certainly knew enough about birds to tell you what a bird is. Similarly, even an atheist or agnostic should be able to formulate a pretty good idea as to what Jesus would have said to Betsy DeVos.
" Obviously, Jesus favored the redistribution of wealth. There's no other way to interpret this text."

Hi Joe, longtime supporter 1st time commenting...

I offer this as another possible interpretation: In refusing to give up his wealth, the man gave greater weight to his fortune than to God.

In the late 1970's my semiliterate friend was pitching Amway to me. I told him I really wasn't acquisitive. He said, "Yeah, but you can make a lot of money!"

Betsy's alternative facts would be supported by Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism. I'm sure you're familiar with the work, and I don't know whether to be surprised that you didn't mention it or not surprised.
People like Betsy DeVos would be surprised to find out that the world "capitalism" doesn't appear anywhere in the Constitution. Nor "free markets". Nor "Christian".
She'll have friends in tearing down public Education and Goodbye science.

I'm sure you know her brother is one erik prince
I think I have developed an allergy to "Christianity" or at least to Christians such as Betsy Devos. I literally become this hate filled, full of rage, gonna punch you in the face, turn the channel for the love of God before I kill somebody person as soon as I hear two words uttered by a TV preacher or some holier than thou Christian.
The ironic thing is that intellectually, I have nothing against Christ or his teachings.

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