Class Warfare Blog

August 4, 2017

Listen Up Youse Guys

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:00 am
Tags: , ,

So a guy in a dark suit comes into your establishment of business and asks to talk to you. He has a business opportunity that you really need to hear. He then proceeds, in a somewhat foreign accent, to threaten your business with all sorts of calamities, which could be prevented by regular contributions to his sponsor. When you scoff and point out that such disasters are unlikely, he then threatens you personally and asks “Why should you suffer?” But you are brave and think that you can take the heat, but your counterpart then mentions that it could get ugly for your family. You begin to sweat and wonder what to do. Should you call the police? You don’t even know this man’s name and there are no other witnesses to corroborate your story. He might claim he came into your shop for a piece of bologna. You begin to fear that you are trapped. You decide to take the “solution” proffered by the man because it is a small amount to pay to escape the fear and protect your family.

“Believe me, you are doing the right thing,” says the man as he leaves your shop with an envelope of your cash.

So, you think this little story is about organized crime, maybe the Mafia? An extortion racket, you think. Someone comes in and explains a threat to you and your family that only he can solve, while implying that he is the threat himself, and he doesn’t identify his mysterious patron, or himself for that matter. Is this a summary of another one of those Netflix movies they keep making?

Or is it just another religious conversion. Bad things will happen unless you do as we tell you. Remember when the neighborhood grocery burned down? Don’t let that happen to you.

Every time I think of a situation in which the problem and the solution have the same source, I do not think of the human potential movement (I say unto you, get out of your own way!), I think of the religious bargain: do as I say now or you will suffer later. Every ordinary misfortune is portrayed as divine retribution on those who have not done what they were told to do. (That Indonesia tsunami? Divine retribution for homosexuality! I have Pat Robertson’s word on it.) So, fear is the coin of this exchange. Fear comes easy. It evolved, the sense of fear, to keep us alive when threatened. Those who are comfortable threatening people can use this response to line their pockets or to get others to act as they wish them to.

So, extortion racket? You be the judge.


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