Many of us over a certain age grew up in the days of the Cold War, when Godless and totalitarian Communism was the existential threat to our Judeo-Christian and democratic Capitalist culture. That being so, it may come as a bit of a shock that a thinker on the level of David Bentley Hart is now arguing that capitalist culture is inherently atheistic and, sooner or later, always seeks to jettison God. We cannot, at last, have a culture that is thoroughly Capitalist and also thoroughly Christianized.
Whatever you think of his theory, which he puts rather succinctly in the video below, it does indeed seem that the recent histories of the most thoroughly capitalistic cultures on earth would lend credence to his thesis.
Hart’s idea is that a capitalist culture always supports personal desire over against a God who may put restrictions on our behavior and call us to restrain certain of our desires; such a culture cannot abide a God who dares to say “Thou shalt not…” and is believed to do so with absolute legitimacy, authority, and righteousness.
Probably related to this (I expect Hart would say it is indeed related), you may have already heard that the US Supreme Court will hear a case involving Artistic vendors who have Religious objections to participating in Gay union ceremonies. As indicated in my previous post on June 21st, I am very concerned about the erosion of 1st Amendment protections for religious believers, and I will be watching and praying about this.
Capitalism, of course, elevates the ideals of liberty and freedom of choice. Liberty is, of course, a virtue. But any virtue, when turned into the only virtue, quickly becomes distorted. Liberty, when pursued without being balanced by other virtues such as personal responsibility or temperance or respect for God and others quickly devolves into the libertine – which, in the end, is a sort of slavery. Which is, I believe, and apt description of our culture.