The woman that you gave me

In certain Christian circles there is a new buzz word, “intentional”, as in “intentional Christian community”, in which people live together and they hold things in common.  I once  lived in an intentional Christian community, before I got married.  Really, I’m a communist at heart, but my wife converted me to capitalism.  It’s all her fault.

The female of a given species is far more sinful in her orientation than the male.  I observe our two cats:  Both have had their sex organs permanently removed, but certain sexually specific characteristics remain.  Sam, our male cat is a good communist, owning nothing of his own, save the food he eats and the air he breathes.  Bailey, our female, is a rich capitalist pig-cat (no offense intended towards the animals called “pigs”).  The fact is I use the possessive pronoun in a very loose sense with our Bailey.  We don’t own her; she owns us would be closer to the truth; possessive is correct in the sense of our boss.  There is a saying, “Dogs have owners; cats have staff.”  With Bailey we are closer to the Greek douloi, “slaves”.  Bailey, the rich capitalist pig-cat, owns everything.  When we originally received Sam into the house we thought he would keep Bailey company — a kitten for her to play with and make her feel better about being kitten-less.  But she expressed her extreme displeasure at his presence; until one day she decided that she could use him as a punching bag.  I built a scratching post for her years ago. There is no question that that scratching post is Bailey’s.  She loves it and uses it daily.  So I built one for Sam, introduced him to it, but he seemed uninterested.  Then, he would use it always looking over his shoulder as though he were afraid of something–that something was Bailey.  Well it soon became clear that the second scratching post also belonged to our rich capitalist pig-cat, and she would whack Sam if she caught him using either of the scratching posts.  We notice also that Sam seems pretty nonchalant when it comes to kitty-cat visitors in our garden; he’s curious, he has a “I just want to get to know you” attitude.  Not Bailey–she gets her hackles up every time she detects a friendly visitor and will defend her capitalist empire with screeches, hisses and threats, with every ounce of her being.  “Give me liberty or give me death.”

When I was about to marry it soon became clear that we were not going to live out our days in our intentional Christian community because neither my fiancee nor any of the other fiancees, of the five of eight housemates who were engaged, wanted to live in intentional Christian community.  They all wanted a place of their own.  We tried to convince these women with every sort of persuasive argument that the intentional Christian community was more biblical and Christian, but the territorial instincts in the female of our own species are just too strong; it is comparable to the female of the cat species.  Our females don’t seem to like sharing:  the operative word is “my”, “mine”?  My house, my man, my car, my garden, my scratching post, mine!  That’s why they call it a “cat fight” when two females scuffle. The female has a strong nesting instinct and a need to carve out space, a place for raising babies, for which the man is a necessary evil.  So while we men would be happy to share everything we have, our food, our toys, our socks and underwear, women are utterly disgusted by such notions.  They want their own things.  The female doesn’t seem to want to share her space with anyone, especially with other females.  She wants a savings accounts too, from which she can draw unbiblical usury to provide security for her old age–I’m pretty sure that beer was invented by a man, and that the RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) was invented by a woman.   So it’s not my fault that I am a rich capitalist pig.  “The woman that you gave me” (Genesis 3.12), she made me do it.

Why communism doesn’t work

We know that communism doesn’t really  work on the macro level because we’ve seen countless occasions that it has led to mass extermination and poverty, USSR, China, Viet Nam, North Korea, and Cuba.  Or how about the collective cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, some of the poorest countries in the world?  But perhaps, if enough really committed and redeemed people get together, just maybe it will work.  In an unguarded moment, PoserorProphet reminds us why communism doesn’t work in a micro community either:

Following Jesus is a demanding task and it is one of the reasons that community is so essential to our life as Christians.  It is impossible to follow Jesus on our own.  It is impossible to move into relationships of mutually liberating solidarity with people who have been abandoned, if you do so on your on.  You will burn out or blow up.

Again, I know this because I have experienced this.  When things started going wrong in our community in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and people started dropping out of participating in the work required to run the community, I decided to just take on more and more of that work myself.  That was unsustainable and my marriage still suffers from the consequences of that decision.

Actually, this is exactly why a lot of people, myself included, believe that communism fails every time it is tried. If you reward the unproductive people and punish the productive people, eventually no one will want to do anything anymore.  But I do have a couple of questions:  (1) Poser, don’t you think you should get this communism thing to work in a micro community before imposing it on the rest of the world?

At City of God, Andrew cites  a Ludwig von Misis Institute article defending private property from an a priori standpoint:

One of the points Hans-Hermann Hoppe makes is that the right to some private property is assumed by virtue of having a right to survive as an embodied individual. For example, surviving requires breathing, which requires an exclusive right to use the air surrounding one’s body. Similarly, surviving requires eating, which requires the right to be the exclusive consumer of some piece of food.

This leads to my second question for PoserorProphet. (2) When all private property has been taken away from people and all that is left is communal property, will we have to share underwear?  Isn’t that just a little unhygienic?  Or it will be like, “Ok, I’ll use it today, you use it tomorrow, but I want it back the next day.”

Are Christian Anarchists the new Zealots?

Note:  This post has been edited to remove an error that the author acknowledges he made.

In my post Donate to Theological Education or Not:  The case of fighting anarchy, I wrote of my alarm that certain young Christians had begun to adopt socialism / communism.  As a donor to theological education, I’ve been asking myself whether if it is wise to give to schools like Regent College, of which I am an alumnist, that associate with professors like Dave Diewert who advocate such views. If these people succeed with their agenda, they will take away our ability to give to places like Regent.  One of Regent’s students, a self-acknowledged friend of Dave Diewert, has come out on his blog advocating violence and the abolition of private property:

However, as I have progressed down this road, I have become convicted that our efforts in this regard must be more intimately linked to solidarity with the abandoned, to the abolition of private property, to potentially more ‘violent’ means of resistance, and to the greater goal of building a social movement.

It had been suggested to me by one of Regent’s full-time Professors that the new left-wing Christians  were the New Pharisees; I’ve changed my mind about Christians like PoserorProphet who advocate violent resistance to the “economy of death”.  They are not the New Pharisees–they are the new Zealots.  Well, occasionally the two categories can overlap,  for Rabbi Akiba, a Pharisee, supported Bar Kochba, a zealot.  Poser has actually found inspiration in the actions of the Zealots:

Or, to pick a third example, we can find inspiration in the actions of the Jewish revolutionaries who immediately burned the records of debt after gaining control of the Jerusalem Temple in the first century (Josephus writes about this – although it probably reminds the modern reader of the conclusion to Fight Club!).

I wrote to Poser at City of God the following:

Now you advocate violent means of resistance and the elimination of private property. Just how much violence would you tolerate? You’re caught up in things that are way over your head, and you yourself could end up getting burned in the process. You mentioned favorably also the zealots who burned the papers of debt and murdered the priestly class. Did you know that all of those people ended up dead within four years? (Except through treachery, Josephus himself survived to tell the story). So you find inspiration in people who were exterminated by war, and those who survived the war only to be crucified and their women and children to be sold into slavery? They perished as Jesus predicted (cf. Matt 24-25); but he told his followers not to participate in the war but rather to flee (Matt 24.16-20). But of course you know better than Jesus–you’ve read more books than he did– and so you find inspiration in the actions of the people who perished in accordance to Jesus’ prophecy!

There was a time when the Republican party had to excommunicate from their ranks the John Birch Society because these people brought discredit to the party with their extreme conspiracy views.  I wonder if evangelical Christians, particularly those involved in theological education, need to clean things up a bit too, before they lose their credibility through their association with such people.  Or are they representative?  Do they actually speak what so many people want to say but are afraid to?

Crowded tenement building churches in Early Christianity, Part II: Philology

The first part of this series was published in my personal blog.  There I react to a budding Master’s student at my alma mater, Regent College, dubbed “Poser or Prophet”, who had in response to the Brooks’ post, House Churches, written:

Also, the early church probably didn’t meet in houses. They probably met in what space they could find in crowded tenement buildings — although if the wealthier first floor resident(s) converted, they could meet there (because, you know, with the risk of buildings falling over or burning down — which tended to happen frequently — it was much better to live on the ground floor than in the penthouse!).

I mentioned that while I often disagree with Poser, this time I agreed, and I was able to find an extensive, though dated, bibliography supporting his view, including multiple examples of the term πολυοχλοικοδομη (poluochloikodome=“crowded tenement building”) in the Early Christian sources.  Text after text supported Poser’s position.

Now Poser has deigned to respond to little ol’ me as such:

Hi Peter,

Methinks you’re a little behind on the literature. For more on churches in tenement buildings, you could start with Jewett’s Romans commentary (it’s pretty much a must-read anyway) and you can follow the trail he provides.

I was deeply moved that Poser remembered my name.  But I felt even more deeply chastened for having not read what is obviously a seminal source, Jewett’s Hermeneia commentary.  Fortunately, being a rich capitalist pig, I own a copy of this book in my personal library.  I was able to read some of it and must say I’ve come to the position of disagreeing with Poser.  Jewett helped me to see that the Greek New Testament that I was using, the NTCB (The New Tenement Church Bible, Greek and English Interlinear ed., published by Zondoudhoorn’s Press, 2009), had fabricated the term πολυοχλοικοδομη / poluochloikodome.  Also I learned that the NIV, RSV and numerous other translations of the original Greek text, just had the term “house”, where I had found “crowded tenement building” in the NTCB!  Can you imagine my surprise?  Returning to my other Greek Bible (I own several of these), I found that the term οἶκος / oikos was used in many of these passages; maybe I should have paid attention when Doc Pecota suggested that we should put our vocabulary on 3×5 cards for the purpose of memorization.  Its been 28 years since I took first-year Greek, so I had to get out my Greek and English dictionary; fortunately, I have several of these because, as I explained, I am a rich capitalist pig.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that this term means “house”; I didn’t think Jesus let his followers own houses.  This term, I learned, is translated domus in the Vulgate of which I also own a copy, being a rich capitalist pig–the term domus comes into English as “dom-inant”, “dom-ination”, “dom-ineering”–this would almost even imply that the apostles, in defiance to the teaching of Jesus, tolerated the early Christian rich capitalists pigs, allowing them to have a dom-inant role in the church; in antiquity, evil householders and landowners were constantly exploiting and dom-inating everyone else.  Heavens.

I couldn’t find in the Vulgate the Latin term, insula (“crowded tenement building”).  So I asked a couple of scholars (who shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty) who are also rich capitalist pigs, having both had the privilege of studying up to the PhD level, to their shame:  one is an Oxford-trained Papyrologist and the other a Swiss national–probably descended from bankers–a professor of Historical Theology, and neither one knew the Greek term for insula.  So I concluded that the original New Testament was written by people who at very least tolerated rich capitalist pig householders; perhaps they even used these economic structures of death to promote the advancement of the Early Church.  Horror!

More to come.

Leftist, anarchist Christians against the Winter Olympics in Vancouver

My friend the Brooks pointed out a conversation at the blog of Nathan Colquhoun, in a blog post, “The Enchanting Economics of Death, Spectacular Resistance, and the Pursuit of New Life: a reflection from the streets of Vancouver“, in which Colquhoun repeats the anxious rant of an anonymous protestor at the games.  It has aroused a discussion in which Dan Oudshoorn, a.k.a. Poserorprophet, insults everyone who disagrees with him and basically condemns wealthy Christians.  Poser offered on his own blog another post by the same anonymous poster called “F— the police”.

Many of the institutions with which I do business, Royal Bank, oil sands, Latin American mining companies, TD Bank, were mentioned.  So I decided to write the following comment against Poser, against the anonymous Poster, and against the generally anarchist marxist tendencies among certain Christians today:

This conversation really baffles me. The other day on his blog Poser said that he needed to raise funds for his new job: amongst whom was he going raise this funding this except ordinary Christians who have money and jobs? He studies at Regent College which is richly endowed by wealthy Christians. He then condemns them all with a sweeping, Bourgeois Christians: “my friend is now being vilified by a bunch of bourgeois Christians who are far removed from the struggle for justice”.

I don’t have a particular ax to grind about the Olympics but the disconnect to me is related to the “economics of death”. Besides the poor Georgian luger, who has died? When Christians talk about the culture of death it is easy to see who has died, 100s of millions of babies. But “economics of death”? That is a play on the term “culture of death”, and yet it is hallow. Who is dying? Who did TD Bank kill that they deserve to have their windows smashed? And for that matter, just because RBC is behind the oil sands, why is that so bad? If it weren’t for oil, you poor folks would have to walk everywhere you go. That’s fine if you live in some African country where it is warm all the time, but some of them work 18 hours a day carrying firewood on small carts for $3 a day. I’d much rather burn oil sands in my Toyota than die at 38 of exhaustion in that kind of misery. But walking everywhere you go is not really an option for living in Canada, particularly in winter.

What are the protesters doing to create life. Anyone can smash a window. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. Vandalism is theft by destruction. That is not what Jesus did. He overturned the tables to prevent the moneychangers from stealing from the people of God and thus charging them to worship God which the moneychangers had no right to do.

Finally, the poster refers to destroying the structures of the economics of death, forewarned that others who have done this (communists around the world) have created misery. Yet Canada is one of the greatest countries in the world and the envy of many millions who long to have an opportunity to come here to live, to study and to raise their families. Yet all the protesters, the poster, and Poser can think about is how to destroy what other people envy. Is that not a sign of their own envy? There is something deeply wrong with that. TD Bank, by employing thousands of people, by extending mortgages to allow young couples to buy their first house, and by providing a safe place where people can put their investments, has done more to promote the welfare of the many than these sad anarchists. That is why I am a proud, bourgeois Christian stockholder of TD.

“In order to construct a society that is more just, less just ways of organizing life together must be destructed. This should be obvious.” This is an extremely scary prospect. When people who hold such views have succeeded only misery results. Please name one case where death was not the result of destruction of capitalism. 100,000,000 people were killed by communists in 20th century alone. Is that not enough?

Signed, an investor in oil sands and Latin American mines, shopper at the Bay, a proud-soon-to-be Canadian, Bourgeois Christian, who owns more than one pair of shoes.

Poser responded, and I replied:

  1. dan says:

    Shame on you, Peter. That’s my cue to exit this conversation.

  2. P. W. Dunn says:

    Poser, your response confirms what one of the professors at Regent told me a few months back: he said there is among the students a new generation of Pharisees. This reminds me of Matt 23.4: “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” You leave in a huff, telling me to be ashamed, but you fail even to explain for what things I should be ashamed or even to give a single counterargument. I can only suppose it is because I am a proud-soon-to-be Canadian. Or is it just because I am wealthy, owning two pairs of shoes?