Wednesday, February 01, 2006

An Eastern Theologian on Wealth

The initial historical link between pietism and capitalism is well known. The linchpin of the capitalist ideology may be identified with the pietistic demand for direct, quantifiable and judicially recompensed results from individual piety and morality-- in this case, from hard work, honesty, thrift, rationalistic exploitation of "talents," etc. Work acquires an autonomy: it is divorced from actual needs and becomes a religious obligation, finding its visible justification and "just deserts" in the accumulation of wealth. The management of wealth similarly becomes autonomous: it is divorced from social need and becomes part of the individual's relationship with God, a relationship of quantitative deserts and rewards.
-Christos Yannaras, "Pietism as an Ecclesiological Heresy"
from The Freedom of Morality

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