The Jungle on Jesus

Towards the end of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a Socialist ex-preacher rails on the way a capitalist society has twisted the character of Jesus:

And why should Jesus have nothing to do with his church—why should his words and his life be of no authority among those who profess to adore him? Here is a man who was the world’s first revolutionist, the true founder of the Socialist movement; a man whose whole being was one flame of hatred for wealth, and all that wealth stands for—for the pride of wealth, and the luxury of wealth, and the tyranny of wealth; who was himself a beggar and a tramp, a man of the people, an associate of saloon-keepers and women of the town; who again and again, in the most explicit language, denounced wealth and the holding of wealth: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth!’—‘Sell that ye have and give alms!’—‘Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven!’—‘Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation!’—‘Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven!’ Who denounced in unmeasured terms the exploiters of his own time: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’—‘Woe unto you also, you lawyers!’—‘Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’ Who drove out the business men and brokers from the temple with a whip! Who was crucified—think of it—for an incendiary and a disturber of the social order! And this man they have made into the high-priest of property and smug respectability, a divine sanction of all the horrors and abominations of modern commercial civilization! Jewelled images are made of him, sensual priests burn incense to him, and modern pirates of industry bring their dollars, wrung from the toil of helpless women and children, and build temples to him, and sit in cushioned seats and listed to his teachings expounded by doctors of dusty divinity…” (emphasis mine)
Capitalism isn’t the great problem of the world as Sinclair might suggest, and socialism isn’t the great solution, but I think he’s hit upon a lot of truth here.

How Christians (myself included) get so mixed up about wealth is beyond me.


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