Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Sat Jun 6 10:25:40 PDT 1998

[Sorry, make that two bounces from Max; one was a dupe.]

Date: Fri, 05 Jun 1998 10:06:10 -0400 From: "Max B. Sawicky" <maxsaw at> Reply-To: maxsaw at X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.03 [en] (Win95; I) MIME-Version: 1.0 To: lbo-talk at Subject: Re: Religion and the left References: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980603114549.21264C-100000 at> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Kevin Quinn wrote:

> On Wed, 3 Jun 1998, James Farmelant wrote:
> > As Harrington
> > suggested people who think that they have only one life to live will
> > probably (other things being equal) be more likely to fight for national
> > health
> > care than people who look forward to an afterlife. I think that the
> > 'young'
> > Marx's assertion that the criticism of religion is the beginning of all
> > criticism still holds true today.
> >
> I'm new to the list today, so I apologize if I repeat what's already been
> said inadvertently.
> An interesting twist on Marx here can be found in Hannah Arendt's work,
> *The Human Condition* in particular. She argues that Christianity and
> capitalism together destroyed the public realm and with it the possibility
> of a
> politics whose focus is the world we have in common, as opposed to a
> politics that amounts to the clash of self-interested maximizing atoms.
> She claims that the public realm, prior to Christianity, was the place
> where mortals sought immortality through action and speech that would be
> remembered. Christianity's message of eternal life made such a quest for
> immortality in the public world moot.

-In my rudimentary understanding of religion, there are two sorts of approaches to salvation. The one alluded to above is but oneof the two--emphasizing the futility of this world and the salvation of mankind through grace and a post-millenial end of days, coming of the Messiah, etc. The other sees salvation coming through good works and sees the kingdom of heaven coming to mankind on Earth in 'our' time. So for the latter life prior to death is precious and there is hope for the human race in its corporeal state.

The Christian conservatives sort across these two categories, not in one or the other. The first view tends more towards apoliticism, the latter to the participation of Christian fundamentalists in politics that we have come to abhor, as well as the religious lefts we work with ourselves.

Christopher Lasch takes this up in a book on my reading list, "The True and Only Heaven," where he takes issue with the ideal of perfectability in the civil sphere and criticizes the left from this standpoint. I'd be interested in comments on the book, which looks to be pretty difficult reading, from anyone who's familiar with it.


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