Saturday, January 3, 2009

Archbishop of Bad Form

The Archbishop of Canterbury has opined on the obvious. Apparently, if we value people more than material wealth, we'll be righter.

"Instead of only placing value on material wealth, Dr Williams challenged people to see their fellow human beings as their true treasure.

'Jesus said where our treasure is, that’s where our hearts will be. Our hearts will be in a very bad way if they’re focused only on the state of our finances. They’ll be healthy if they are capable of turning outwards, looking at the real treasure that is our fellow human beings,' he said."

Nevermind the deep and richly mistaken hermeneutic Archy placed on that passage, it behooves us to examine once again how a man in a prominent position, backed by a large and wealthy church has condescended to tell us plebians to value material wealth less.

If you recall, Pope Benedict XVI made similar implications in his ironic vespers speech from St. Peter's basilica. Now, in a timely and oh-so-expected turn, the Church of England has followed suit renouncing material wealth -- for other people.

It's true that the financial climate is precarious at best. It's true, like the Cynics of ancient Greece used to emphasize, that material wealth has no inherent value beyond itself. It's also invaluably true that people, animals, just life itself generates far more return than can be measured in linear currency. It's true, too, that raining moralisms down on people from fancy pulpits in the guise of encouraging and hopeful messages amounts to little more than a false appeal to authority on the parts of church curates.

At what point did it become the providence of rich churches to rightly tell less privileged people how to use their money? When did it become even remotely ethical to homilize on the value of what others own, and then to assume that in a culture where access to material wealth is quite easy that that means ipso facto that people are valued less?

Is this a case of spotting the fleck in another's eye while the Church of England does precious little to remove the log from their own eye? By way of comparison, my earthly possessions probably wouldn't afford the Archbishop's mitre and cloak. So since he's not, in any foreseeable way, going to be giving those things up to improve the quality of life for the homeless guy on the street, why should I give heed to a blatantly hypocritical splash of rhetoric?

I do believe Jesus rebuked the Pharisees along similar lines. Bad form, Mr. Archbishop.

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