This may sound like another “glib” Aspie conclusion, but I’m serious! Please see previous post: What does “Spiritual” Mean? / The Protestant Work Ethic
I’ve learned over recent years that when I feel distress of a vague nagging type, there is a “real” problem behind it. I believe this is true for many Americans, who may not recognize that the source is environmental. One of the awful trends in modern American life is this: if you are “depressed” which is a highly-exploited generalized “mental state”, it’s your problem. Life is the American Dream, and you are just not pulling your weight. Job loss, poverty, illness, grief, violent neighborhoods, natural disasters? Hey! Buck up and shut up. Don’t be a buzz-kill. See a therapist; take drugs.
In the previous post, we learned that the early Protestants, the Calvinists, believed in pre-destination: God has only so many “reserved seats” waiting in heaven, and if you are not a Chosen Person, your only recourse is to work your ass off for minimum wage for the Chosen People. This makes the Protestant Elite “rich” (of whatever race, ethnicity, religion or national origin), but we all know that these are conscientious people who plow all their profits back into their “wealth machines” here in the U.S. This ensures good jobs and a worthwhile reason for the non-chosen masses to exist at all – putting in a lifetime of service to ensure that the seats around the boardroom table in heaven are occupied by the Elites. Sorry; there are no “leftover” seats in heaven. Unfortunately, the ever-growing tonnage of wealth tied up in the “wealth machine” is the magic ticket to heaven; it must grow and grow and grow.
“Spirituality” in Protestant cultures is at best an obligation on the part of the Elite to “not enjoy” their wealth but to amass a fortune, an obligation that passes to the heirs. As for the masses – well, if you don’t become rich, it’s because God didn’t choose you to be rich.
When spelled out so plainly, it’s a “scheme” that sane human beings (or cats and dogs, for that matter), would reject. But this is America, and from the beginning of the European invasion, the continent was sold as Heaven on Earth. A magical place in which you could buy a “seat in heaven” whether or not you were one of the Chosen People. Suddenly, Predestination had a lot of “wiggle room.”
It’s arguable just when the *”don’t enjoy your wealth” commandment disappeared from the Capitalist Playbook; it certainly doesn’t exist today. Neither does “spirituality”. Despite the U.S. being one of the more “religious” nations on Earth, any notion that we were ever a spiritual society is a sham.
* It may have been simple geometry: as the Middle Class grew, the hierarchy of wealth had to expand to include millions more Americans. What’s the point in being “rich” but unable to show it? – a Middle Class person might live a more luxurious material existence than a “millionaire” chosen person.