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Response to M Kitt (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 04:34 PM

6. The roots of this way of thinking can be found in the historical underpinnings of Protestantism,

particularly early Calvinism. It was John Calvin's idea of predestination that led to this glorification of wealth as "Godly." If we are to presume, as Calvin and his followers did, that our lives are predetermined by God, that we are either "saved" or "damned" from the moment of our birth, and that there is nothing we can do as we live our lives to change this, then there exists an anxiety in not knowing whether one is (to their way of thinking) going to be rewarded in Heaven or damned to Hell. To ease this anxiety springs the idea that there must be some "signs" we can note as to whether we are favored by God, and thus, one of the "saved." The ability to acquire wealth, particularly through one's own labor (the "Protestant work ethic", came to be seen as a sign of God's favor. If God allows you to become wealthy through your work, then surely you are "blessed by God" as one of the saved, and the more wealth you can accrue, the more holy you must surely be. This is a simplified, nutshell version of this history, of course, but hopefully, sheds a little light, for those who may be unaware of it, on the origins of this way of thinking in the Western world.

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