November 10, 2009

Hanna Rosin on the Prosperity Gospel and the Mortgage Meltdown

Hanna Rosin's new article in The Atlantic -- "Did Christianity Cause the Crash?"-- has a lot of helpful info on Rev. Ike-like Protestant cults that helped turn fatalistic Catholic Mexican peasants into financial high-rollers in America, with disastrous effects on our economy. She focuses on Fernando Garay, a minister and mortgage broker.

Now that I think about it, this explains a lot about why George W. Bush and Karl Rove were so convinced that the future of the GOP depended upon a combination of Hispanics and zero downpayment mortgages. As I reported about the lost 2002 exit poll that I retrieved and crunched:
Among Hispanics, for example, one-third of polled Catholics voted Republican. Among the one out of four Hispanic voters who were Protestant, however, the GOP won a small majority.

My lazy assumption had been that Protestantization of Hispanics would help them get rid of bad financial habits like blowing all their savings on fiestas, but it turns out that it instead means borrowing money they can't pay back. If Cotton Mather were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave.

Rosin writes:

Like the ambitions of many immigrants who attend services there, Casa del Padre’s success can be measured by upgrades in real estate. The mostly Latino church, in Charlottesville, Virginia, has moved from the pastor’s basement, where it was founded in 2001, to a rented warehouse across the street from a small mercado five years later, to a middle-class suburban street last year, where the pastor now rents space from a lovely old Baptist church that can’t otherwise fill its pews. Every Sunday, the parishioners drive slowly into the parking lot, never parking on the sidewalk or grass—“because Americanos don’t do that,” one told me—and file quietly into church. Some drive newly leased SUVs, others old work trucks with paint buckets still in the bed. The pastor, Fernando Garay, arrives last and parks in front, his dark-blue Mercedes Benz always freshly washed, the hubcaps polished enough to reflect his wingtips.

It can be hard to get used to how much Garay talks about money in church, one loyal parishioner, Billy Gonzales, told me one recent Sunday on the steps out front. Back in Mexico, Gonzales’s pastor talked only about “Jesus and heaven and being good.” But Garay talks about jobs and houses and making good money, which eventually came to make sense to Gonzales: money is “really important,” and besides, “we love the money in Jesus Christ’s name! Jesus loved money too!” That Sunday, Garay was preaching a variation on his usual theme, about how prosperity and abundance unerringly find true believers. “It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, what degree you have, or what money you have in the bank,” Garay said. “You don’t have to say, ‘God, bless my business. Bless my bank account.’ The blessings will come! The blessings are looking for you! God will take care of you. God will not let you be without a house!”

Pastor Garay, 48, is short and stocky, with thick black hair combed back. In his off hours, he looks like a contented tourist, in his printed Hawaiian shirts or bright guayaberas. But he preaches with a ferocity that taps into his youth as a cocaine dealer with a knife in his back pocket. “Fight the attack of the devil on my finances! Fight him! We declare financial blessings! Financial miracles this week, NOW NOW NOW!” he preached that Sunday. “More work! Better work! The best finances!” Gonzales shook and paced as the pastor spoke, eventually leaving his wife and three kids in the family section to join the single men toward the front, many of whom were jumping, raising their Bibles, and weeping. On the altar sat some anointing oils, alongside the keys to the Mercedes Benz.

Later, D’andry Then, a trim, pretty real-estate agent and one of the church founders, stood up to give her testimony. Business had not been good of late, and “you know, Monday I have to pay this, and Tuesday I have to pay that.” Then, just that morning, “Jesus gave me $1,000.” She didn’t explain whether the gift came in the form of a real-estate commission or a tax refund or a stuffed envelope left at her door. The story hung somewhere between metaphor and a literal image of barefoot Jesus handing her a pile of cash. No one in the church seemed the least bit surprised by the story, and certainly no one expressed doubt. “If you have financial pressure on you, and you don’t know where the next payment is coming from, don’t pay any attention to that!” she continued. “Don’t get discouraged! Jesus is the answer.”

America’s churches always reflect shifts in the broader culture, and Casa del Padre is no exception. The message that Jesus blesses believers with riches first showed up in the postwar years, at a time when Americans began to believe that greater comfort could be accessible to everyone, not just the landed class. But it really took off during the boom years of the 1990s, and has continued to spread ever since. This stitched-together, homegrown theology, known as the prosperity gospel, is not a clearly defined denomination, but a strain of belief that runs through the Pentecostal Church and a surprising number of mainstream evangelical churches, with varying degrees of intensity. In Garay’s church, God is the “Owner of All the Silver and Gold,” and with enough faith, any believer can access the inheritance. Money is not the dull stuff of hourly wages and bank-account statements, but a magical substance that comes as a gift from above. Even in these hard times, it is discouraged, in such churches, to fall into despair about the things you cannot afford. “Instead of saying ‘I’m poor,’ say ‘I’m rich,’” Garay’s wife, Hazael, told me one day. “The word of God will manifest itself in reality.”

Many explanations have been offered for the housing bubble and subsequent crash: interest rates were too low; regulation failed; rising real-estate prices induced a sort of temporary insanity in America’s middle class. But there is one explanation that speaks to a lasting and fundamental shift in American culture—a shift in the American conception of divine Providence and its relationship to wealth.

In his book Something for Nothing, Jackson Lears describes two starkly different manifestations of the American dream, each intertwined with religious faith. The traditional Protestant hero is a self-made man. He is disciplined and hardworking, and believes that his “success comes through careful cultivation of (implicitly Protestant) virtues in cooperation with a Providential plan.” The hero of the second American narrative is a kind of gambling man—a “speculative confidence man,” Lears calls him, who prefers “risky ventures in real estate,” and a more “fluid, mobile democracy.” The self-made man imagines a coherent universe where earthly rewards match merits. The confidence man lives in a culture of chance, with “grace as a kind of spiritual luck, a free gift from God.” The Gilded Age launched the myth of the self-made man, as the Rockefellers and other powerful men in the pews connected their wealth to their own virtue. In these boom-and-crash years, the more reckless alter ego dominates. In his book, Lears quotes a reverend named Jeffrey Black, who sounds remarkably like Garay: “The whole hope of a human being is that somehow, in spite of the things I’ve done wrong, there will be an episode when grace and fate shower down on me and an unearned blessing will come to me—that I’ll be the one.”...

Among Latinos the prosperity gospel has been spreading rapidly. In a recent Pew survey, 73 percent of all religious Latinos in the United States agreed with the statement: “God will grant financial success to all believers who have enough faith.” For a generation of poor and striving Latino immigrants, the gospel seems to offer a road map to affluence and modern living. Garay’s church is comprised mostly of first-generation immigrants. More than others I’ve visited, it echoes back a highly distilled, unself-conscious version of the current thinking on what it means to live the American dream.

One other thing makes Garay’s church a compelling case study. From 2001 to 2007, while he was building his church, Garay was also a loan officer at two different mortgage companies. He was hired explicitly to reach out to the city’s growing Latino community, and Latinos, as it happened, were disproportionately likely to take out the sort of risky loans that later led to so many foreclosures. To many of his parishioners, Garay was not just a spiritual adviser, but a financial one as well.

Many of the terms and concepts used by prosperity preachers today date back to Oral Roberts, a poor farmer’s son turned Pentecostal preacher. Garay grew up watching Roberts on television and considers him a hero; he hopes to send all three of his children to Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the late 1940s, Roberts claimed his Bible flipped open to the Third Epistle of John, verse 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health. Even as thy soul prospereth.” Soon Roberts developed his famous concept of seed faith, still popular today. If people would donate money to his ministry, a “seed” offered to God, he’d say, then God would multiply it a hundredfold. Eventually, Roberts retreated into a life that revolved around private jets and country clubs.

Actually, Father Divine (c. 1876-1965), a black preacher, was there even before Oral Roberts, preaching a prosperity gospel in Harlem. Strikingly, George Gilder, the brilliant and slightly demented high tech prophet who made so much money for himself and his followers in the 1990s and lost so much when the Tech Bubble popped, was heavily influenced by Father Divine. Rather like Robin, he was the ward of millionaire David Rockefeller, head of Chase Manhattan bank. Some of the black servants were followers of Father Divine, so they took little George with them to Father Divine's services. Gilder has always argued that Father Divine's followers did well for themselves economically even net of their contributions to him.

... But since that time, the movement has made itself over, moving out of the fringe and into the upwardly mobile megachurch class. In the past decade, it has produced about a dozen celebrity pastors, who show up at White House events, on secular radio, and as guests on major TV talk shows. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a Methodist megapastor in Houston and a purveyor of the prosperity gospel, gave the benediction at both of George W. Bush’s inaugurals. Instead of shiny robes or gaudy jewelry, these preachers wear Italian suits and modest wedding bands. Instead of screaming and sweating, they smile broadly and speak in soothing, therapeutic terms. But their message is essentially the same. “Every day, you’re going to live that abundant life!” preaches Joel Osteen, a best-selling author, the nation’s most popular TV preacher, and the pastor of Lakewood Church, in Houston, the country’s largest church by far.

Among mainstream, nondenominational megachurches, where much of American religious life takes place, “prosperity is proliferating” rapidly, says Kate Bowler, a doctoral candidate at Duke University and an expert in the gospel. Few, if any, of these churches have prosperity in their title or mission statement, but Bowler has analyzed their sermons and teachings. Of the nation’s 12 largest churches, she says, three are prosperity—Osteen’s, which dwarfs all the other megachurches; Tommy Barnett’s, in Phoenix; and T. D. Jakes’s, in Dallas. In second-tier churches—those with about 5,000 members—the prosperity gospel dominates. Overall, Bowler classifies 50 of the largest 260 churches in the U.S. as prosperity. The doctrine has become popular with Americans of every background and ethnicity; overall, Pew found that 66 percent of all Pentecostals and 43 percent of “other Christians”—a category comprising roughly half of all respondents—believe that wealth will be granted to the faithful. It’s an upbeat theology, argues Barbara Ehrenreich in her new book, Bright-Sided, that has much in common with the kind of “positive thinking” that has come to dominate America’s boardrooms and, indeed, its entire culture. ...

Theologically, the prosperity gospel has always infuriated many mainstream evangelical pastors. Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life outsold Osteen’s, told Time, “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?” In 2005, a group of African American pastors met to denounce prosperity megapreachers for promoting a Jesus who is more like a “cosmic bellhop,” as one pastor put it, than the engaged Jesus of the civil-rights era who looked after the poor.

More recently, critics have begun to argue that the prosperity gospel, echoed in churches across the country, might have played a part in the economic collapse. In 2008, in the online magazine Religion Dispatches, Jonathan Walton, a professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside, warned:
Narratives of how “God blessed me with my first house despite my credit” were common … Sermons declaring “It’s your season of overflow” supplanted messages of economic sobriety and disinterested sacrifice. Yet as folks were testifying about “what God can do,” little attention was paid to a predatory subprime-mortgage industry, relaxed credit standards, or the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM.

In 2004, Walton was researching a book about black televangelists. “I would hear consistent testimonies about how ‘once I was renting and now God let me own my own home,’ or ‘I was afraid of the loan officer, but God directed him to ignore my bad credit and blessed me with my first home,’” he says. “This trope was so common in these churches that I just became immune to it. Only later did I connect it to this disaster.”

Demographically, the growth of the prosperity gospel tracks fairly closely to the pattern of foreclosure hot spots. Both spread in two particular kinds of communities—the exurban middle class and the urban poor. Many newer prosperity churches popped up around fringe suburban developments built in the 1990s and 2000s, says Walton. These are precisely the kinds of neighborhoods that have been decimated by foreclosures, according to Eric Halperin, of the Center for Responsible Lending.

During my last golf vacation, a weekend in 112 degree Palm Springs in June 2006, my golf partner pointed out that here in the Inland Empire, religious preaching stations made up about half of what we could pick up on the car radio.

Zooming out a bit, Kate Bowler found that most new prosperity-gospel churches were built along the Sun Belt, particularly in California, Florida, and Arizona—all areas that were hard-hit by the mortgage crisis. Bowler, who, like Walton, was researching a book, spent a lot of time attending the “financial empowerment” seminars that are common at prosperity churches. Advisers would pay lip service to “sound financial practices,” she recalls, but overall they would send the opposite message: posters advertising the seminars featured big houses in the background, and the parking spots closest to the church were reserved for luxury cars.

Nationally, the prosperity gospel has spread exponentially among African American and Latino congregations. This is also the other distinct pattern of foreclosures. “Hyper-segregated” urban communities were the worst off, says Halperin. Reliable data on foreclosures by race are not publicly available,

Oh, yes the data are:

- California overall (adjusted for income and FICO)

- Massachusetts subprime

- National FHA.

They just haven't been much publicized.

but mortgages are tracked by both race and loan type, and subprime loans have tended to correspond to foreclosures. During the boom, roughly 40 percent of all loans going to Latinos nationwide were subprime loans; Latinos and African Americans were 28 percent and 37 percent more likely, respectively, to receive a higher-rate subprime loan than whites.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that state attorneys general had the authority to sue national banks for predatory lending. Even before that ruling, at least 17 lawsuits accusing various banks of treating racial minorities unfairly were already under way. (Bank of America’s Countrywide division—one of the companies Garay worked for—had earlier agreed to pay $8.4 billion in a multistate settlement.) One theme emerging in these suits is how banks teamed up with pastors to win over new customers for subprime loans.

Beth Jacobson is a star witness for the City of Baltimore’s recent suit against Wells Fargo. Jacobson was a top loan officer in the bank’s subprime division for nine years, closing as much as $55 million worth of loans a year. Like many subprime-loan officers, Jacobson had no bank experience before working for Wells Fargo. The subprime officers were drawn from “an utterly different background” than the professional bankers, she told me. She had been running a small paralegal business; her co-workers had been car salespeople, or had worked in telemarketing. They were prized for their ability to hustle on the ground and “look you in the eye when they shook your hand,” she surmised. As a reward for good performance, the bank would sometimes send a Hummer limo to pick up Jacobson for a celebration, she said. She’d arrive at a bar and find all her co-workers drunk and her boss “doing body shots off a waitress.”

The idea of reaching out to churches took off quickly, Jacobson recalls. The branch managers figured pastors had a lot of influence with their parishioners and could give the loan officers credibility and new customers. Jacobson remembers a conference call where sales managers discussed the new strategy. The plan was to send officers to guest-speak at church-sponsored “wealth-building seminars” like the ones Bowler attended, and dazzle the participants with the possibility of a new house. They would tell pastors that for every person who took out a mortgage, $350 would be donated to the church, or to a charity of the parishioner’s choice. “They wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, Mr. Minister. We want to give your people a bunch of subprime loans,” Jacobson told me. “They would say, ‘Your congregants will be homeowners! They will be able to live the American dream!’”

Garay often tells his life story from the pulpit, as an inspiration to the many immigrants in his church, some legal, some not. He grew up an outsider—a citizen by birth, but living a marginal existence in a diverse, working-class neighborhood in Flushing, Queens. His mother left when he was 8, and he was raised mostly by two older brothers; he spent most of his time on the street. “I ate jars of peanut butter for dinner,” he says.

Hey, I ate half a jar of peanut butter for lunch last week. I like peanut butter and it's very convenient (except it tends to give you the hiccups if you eat too much in one spoonful.)

The story of how he became a Christian begins in 1989, when he was 28 years old, and involves a large sum of money. He’d been selling drugs in Miami, then started using, and owed some dealers $30,000 that he didn’t have, and they were going to kill him. He was on his mattress one night, in despair, when a picture of Jesus up on his wall “winked at me.” ...

One day, for no reason, he quit his job as a social worker counseling addicted juvenile delinquents. “I almost hit him with a frying pan,” Hazael, his wife, jokes. But the very same day, his mother-in-law walked into the house and said the bank was looking for a bilingual loan officer. He had no experience and had never used a computer. Yet he got the job and within a year was earning six figures. How did that happen? How did it all come together so neatly, one door opening the moment another had closed? When I asked him that, he smiled and pointed up at the sky.

... He often tells what’s known as Jesus’ parable of the three servants, from Matthew. A lord gives three of his servants money. Two invest the money and double their profit, and a third hides his in the ground. When the master returns, he declares the third “wicked and lazy” and a “worthless slave,” and casts him into the “outer darkness.” “To receive God’s bounty, you cannot hide your head in the sand,” Garay preaches. “You have to take a leap of faith.”

... While it sounds absurd, this kind of message can have a positive influence, according to Tony Tian-Ren Lin, a researcher at the University of Virginia who has made a close study of Latino prosperity gospel congregations over the years. These churches typically take in people who had “been basically dropped into the world from pretty primitive settings”—small towns in Latin America with no electricity or running water and very little educational opportunity. In their new congregation, their pastor slowly walks them through life in the U.S., both inside and outside of church, until they become more confident. “In Mexico, nobody ever told them they could do anything,” says Lin, who was himself raised in Argentina. He finds the message at prosperity churches to be quintessentially American. “They are taught they can do absolutely anything, and it’s God’s will. They become part of the elect, the chosen. They get swept up in the manifest destiny, this idea that God has lifted Americans above everyone else.”

At Casa del Padre, the celebration of consumer culture is quite visible, along with a sense of boundless opportunity. The people in the church, for instance, tend to have very expensive cell phones—never the free ones that come with a calling plan, nor the sort that can be bought cheaply at a convenience store. “They start wanting what’s considered the best and the most technologically advanced in this country,” Lin says. Garay’s church, it seems to me, teaches them that they deserve these things, so they go about getting them, with few resources and infinite adaptability. Before the crash, one group of young men got a $12,000 loan to start a landscaping company; another man bought a $270,000 house. One of the church’s Bible-study leaders, who’d grown up in a remote village in Mexico with an abusive, alcoholic father, had become a very successful contractor by the height of the boom, managing 30 men on multiple jobs and winning contracts to paint luxury subdivisions in the exurbs.

The tenets of the prosperity gospel, and the practical advice that pastors often give their parishioners, help immigrants learn “not just how to survive but how to thrive; not just live paycheck to paycheck but handle money—manage complicated payrolls, invest in equipment,” Lin told me. Along the way, they become assimilated. “While they’re trying to be closer to God, instead they become American,” he says, from their optimism and entrepreneurialism to the very nature of their dreams.

... I asked Garay many times about a connection between the mortgage crisis and the gospel, but he does not really see one. From everything he says about his time as a loan officer, it seems he was involved in the kinds of subprime loans that led to so many foreclosures. He was hired in Countrywide’s emerging-markets division, which meant he was expected to target the growing Latino community in the area. Like Beth Jacobson, he had no previous experience, but was valued for his connections and hustle. He makes astute criticisms of the risky loans but, like many former loan officers, he does so with a curious sense of distance, as if he had been just a cog in the machine. Loans got “too easy,” he says. “Mortgages would be $1,500 a month, and that was all [the loan applicants] made in a month,” he recalls, “but they figured they would rent the basement.” He says sometimes he told people the loans were going to kill them, but they would plead, “Please help me, please. I want a house.” Because he was becoming an increasingly prominent pastor at the time, many people who came to see him assumed he was the president of the bank and could protect them, he recalls.

Garay says as far as he knows no one in his church defaulted. But at a bare minimum, some of his parishioners have run into intense financial difficulties, sometimes defaulting soon after leaving the congregation. The man who’d bought the $270,000 house threw a huge housewarming party and invited everyone from church. He gave a weepy testimony about the house God had given him, passing around the title for all to see. At the time, he was working as a handyman, putting up drywall, painting, roofing, and doing other odd jobs. Within three months he had three families living in the three-bedroom house, and he still could not keep up with the payments. After five months, he went into foreclosure and ducked out of the country. Tony Lin is careful—and of course correct—to say that neither immigrants nor Latinos caused the crash; adherents of every stripe exhibited the same sort of magical thinking about finances, as did millions of nonbelievers. Still, he recalls, “I wasn’t very surprised when the whole subprime-mortgage thing blew up. I’m sure a loan officer never said, ‘God wants you to have a house.’ But you’ve already been taught that. Now here comes the loan officer saying, ‘Sign here, and this house will be yours.’ It feels like a gift from God. It’s the perfect fuel for the crisis.”

More

When I was at Rice U. in the 1970s, the Master of Rice's Sid Richardson College, sociologist Bill Martin (a leading scholar of American religions and Billy Graham's authorized biographer) brought Rev. Ike on campus for a lecture. Unfortunately, I missed it. He made quite an impression on those who saw him.
“If it’s that difficult for a rich man to get into heaven,” he would often say, citing Matthew, “think how terrible it must be for a poor man to get in. He doesn’t even have a bribe for the gatekeeper.”

His full name was Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II and, like the Van Halen brothers, was Dutch and Indonesian on his father's side. He was black on his mother's side. He was an interesting looking fellow, rather resembling Little Richard.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hanna Rosin titled her article "Did Christianity Cause the Crash" rather than more accurately "Did the Prosperity Gospel Cause the Crash" for a reason.

Tom Piatak said...

Very interesting. But it wasn't the Hispanic immigrants' Catholicism that caused them to believe in the Prosperity Gospel, since they found the Prosperity Gospel in Pentecostal and evangelical churches, not Catholic ones.

Anonymous said...

Half a jar of peanut butter for dinner sounds dangerous. It's good to keep something on hand for dissolving any oleaginous clots that get stuck in your windpipe. A bottle of Wild Turkey 101 might do nicely.

Never count on your nearest and dearest to be on hand for the Heimlich maneuver.

Jeff said...

The Protestant, self-made archtype can only flourish in times of stable money. His business will usually be wiped out in a boom-and-bust, debased-currency environment such as we have now.

Economic chaos benefits sharp operators. Some of them can get rich quick by making big bets. Others get rich by exploiting desperate people.

To me the Prosperity Gospel is a symptom of an economic environment where patient hard work seldom pays off.

Ben Franklin said...

Come on now Tom, do you REALLY think that the minority of Hispanic immigrants who are not in Catholic churches are “Protestants” in any historical sense of that term? One thing that stands out to anyone familiar with historical Protestantism is the very Catholic nature of the mega-church and Pentecostal churches. Besides destroying separate local churches, many with a historical basis and a more developed theology and more traditional forms of worship services, the Mega church and Pentecostal churches are a product of a “universalist” multicultural contemporary America. They simply don’t have any continuity with Northern European American Protestantism.

Most of the statistics I have seen still list over 70 percent of Hispanics in America as remaining Catholic rather than joining mega church and/or Pentecostal churches.

Whiskey said...

Barbara Ehrenreich is also famous for writing in Time in 1999 about how "amorphous free-floating relationships" will take the place of nuclear families with "other people" raising women's children so they can lead lives filled with "passionate and transient romance."

So she is a devotee of Prosperity Gospel in terms of romance/sex. Most feminists and Leftist women are.

The sort of mainstream, Rick-Warren type Evangelist (rather than Pentecostal) Protestant denominations stress steady hard work. Both in personal faith and relationships and in economic matters. That is the point of the "Promise Keepers" i.e. a long-hard slog through marriage when things can go south/sour.

Mormons also appeal to Latinos/Mexicans, and have a traditional Calvinist approach to finance and financial matters.

This prosperity doctrine is more likely a Black phenomena. As for Palm Springs radio stations, no surprise -- much of Black Los Angeles ethnically/economically cleansed by Mexican/Central American immigration into South-Central LA moved to the Inland Empire.

corvinus said...

I think the stereotype of the ant Protestant versus the grasshopper Catholic came about because Northern Europeans are thriftier and more careful with money than Southern Europeans. In other words, it's the nature of the people, not the religion.

So, if you have a bunch of mestizo Protestants, of course they won't be any good with money, any more than those who are still Catholic would be.

Anonymous said...

The Protestant, self-made archtype can only flourish in times of stable money. His business will usually be wiped out in a boom-and-bust, debased-currency environment such as we have now.

Economic chaos benefits sharp operators. Some of them can get rich quick by making big bets. Others get rich by exploiting desperate people.


This is true. Henry Ford wrote about this decades ago when he talked about the struggle between Industry and Finance.

Jeff Burton said...

the Mega church and Pentecostal churches are a product of a “universalist” multicultural contemporary America. They simply don’t have any continuity with Northern European American Protestantism.

I'll try to be respectful, but you don't know what you are talking about. The strands of American Protestantism are many and tangled, but with the exception of the Catholic Charismatic movement (which began in the late 60's), Pentacostalism is a deeply and thoroughly Protestant phenomenon, in history, tradition, and theology.

keypusher said...

The message that Jesus blesses believers with riches first showed up in the postwar years, at a time when Americans began to believe that greater comfort could be accessible to everyone, not just the landed class.

How can you trust an article that is so wrong on such a simple point?

I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your duty to get rich.... The men who get rich may be the most honest men you find in the community. Let me say here clearly .. . ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is why they are rich. That is why they are trusted with money. That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men. ... ... I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathised with is very small. To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins ... is to do wrong.... let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings. ..."

Russell Conwell, 1890

rob said...

“In Mexico, nobody ever told them they could do anything,” says Lin

Arguendo that's true, why did no one ever tell them that? Perhaps because Mexicans spend lots of time with other Mexicans and have learned through hard, brutal disappointment that in fact, they can't do anything they want to.

The same of course applies to black africans wherever they happen to live. Not many people think either hispanics or blacks live they would like. They live like they can.

The prosperity gospel doesn't sound much different than magic. The author doth protest too much: the fact that responsible black ministers have to get together to condemn prosperity gospel implies that it really appeals to blacks. I'm sure indios in Latin America have their own traditional magic too.

The value of positive thinking depends strongly on temperament and ability. Smart, dour people benefit from it. Dumb, self-confident people definitely don't need more of it, they need work hard and steady thinking.

rob said...

Oh yeah the More link doesn't work.

Glaivester said...

It should be pointed out that properly speaking, "Protestant" refers mostly to Calvinist/Presbyterian, Anglican/Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches.

Baptist, Congregationalist, and to a lesser extent Methodist, churches could be considered a third branch, and probably should be considered separately.

Thrasymachus said...

Why wouldn't this be appealing? Rick Warren's Baptist Christianity is hardly distinguishable from the Irish Catholicism I grew up with- "Suffering is good for you! God wants you to suffer!" Warren's church is actually in a highly affluent area- I'm not surprised people with less are attracted to a creed that givs them some hope of improving their situation.

Dahlia said...

Related, but about a much smaller fad:
In my small conservative town, I've noticed often that signs on cars advertising for some pyramid scheme (and it's a big problem) are often accompanied with religious symbols. Often a Jesus fish. They are always driven by normal, middle-class women who have been duped. Yet, I've never seen one of these cars at my Catholic church which is mostly lower middle-class with separate Masses for Mexicans, of which there are hundreds.
So, class doesn't refute the theological dimension to this.

This was a topic I became interested in after some (non-Catholic) relatives of mine got duped and I read everything I could get my hands on about who, how, and why people get victimized. Mostly, it was unsatisfying ("Anybody can get duped!" and "Victims come from all walks of life!) The high prevalence of church going members was addressed and chalked up to the nature of these churches with the scheme being seen much like a virus being brought in by a trusted and loved person. Once the minister and/or his wife goes, the whole church goes. Still, these things are highly rare in the Catholic church (and mainline churches I would guess) and it makes sense given the fad-prone and theologically volatile ways of the Evangelical churches.

Anonymous said...

The Pew Hispanic organization reports that 15% of Hispanics are listed as “Protestant.” This likely doesn’t include Mormons.



http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/75.1.pdf


More than two-thirds (68%) of Hispanics are Roman Catholics. The next largest category, at 15%, is made up of born-again or evangelical Protestants. Although their numbers are increasing, the share of Latino evangelical Protestants is smaller than it is in either the white or black communities.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tom Piatak that Prosperity is the last thing I’d associate with Hispanic immigrants and the countries of origin including Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Columbia, Brazil, and Venezuela etc.

Instead, I’d be more likely to associate Catholic Hispanics with violence, illegal immigration, illiteracy, corruption etc.

Anonymous said...

"My lazy assumption had been that Protestantization of Hispanics would help them get rid of bad financial habits like blowing all their savings on fiestas, but it turns out that it instead means borrowing money they can't pay back."

Hmm, maybe we could convert our financiers and war-industrialists to Catholicism and they could spend their money on fiestas rather than wrecking the economy or getting involved in foreign wars. Alas, if only it worked that way...

Anonymous said...

I think the stereotype of the ant Protestant versus the grasshopper Catholic came about because Northern Europeans are thriftier and more careful with money than Southern Europeans. In other words, it's the nature of the people, not the religion.

Calvinist influenced Protestants -- God's elect -- are morely likely to resemble Jews than Catholics.

Anon Coward said...

Off topic, but something of interest noted at gnxp.com:

"Gladwell’s primary thesis is that ideas or behavior can, under the right circumstances, spread like an epidemic. What precisely this means is not clear. However, there is another, serious problem with this book, a glaring omission. People sometimes talk about something being “blindingly obvious.” In this case, the omission is so obvious that it is more akin to staring at the sun at high noon. This omission can be summarized by a single word that appears nowhere in the text: Meme.

In his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins, coined the term “meme” to mean, in essence, a unit of cultural transmission that reproduces and is selected for, akin to how genes are selected for by natural selection. Since 1976, “meme” has been used more loosely to mean an idea or behavior that spreads in a viral fashion. The idea of a meme is similar, if not identical, to what Gladwell discusses. Despite that, the word “meme” never appears once in Gladwell’s book. Nor is Dawkins mentioned or referenced once in the text.

Gladwell’s book was first published in 2000, many years after Dawkins’s coinage. This is not a case of two minds independently and simultaneously arriving at the same idea, like Leibniz and Newton. This is one mind, presenting an idea and then another mind publishing a similar idea while failing to acknowledge prior work. By academic standards, this is completely unacceptable.

One might think that, possibly, Gladwell’s research was sloppy, and so he never learned about Dawkins’s term “meme.” However, I read Gladwell’s book on Kindle, which includes many updates since the original book was published. It is implausible that, in the last nine years, Gladwell has never heard the term “meme.” And yet, he felt no need to add even a footnote or a sentence about Dawkins’s important prior work...

Gladwell comes across as a child trying to explain why his hand was in the cookie jar. He advances a series of unconvincing, somewhat contradictory explanations, hoping that we will ignore the larger problem. So far as I can tell from Google searching, this strategy has worked; people have noted that Gladwell is talking about memes but no one has called him out for his failure to acknowledge this prior work. This isn’t acceptable. Gladwell’s behavior is intellectually dishonest. His failure to credit Dawkins or others who have thought about these ideas before him does a disservice to those individuals and to honest intellectual discourse. I don’t think Gladwell’s behavior constitutes plagiarism, but it certainly would be punished if it occurred in an academic setting. Failure to cite prior work results in a paper being rejected from any legitimate journal. If a student hands in an assignment that fails to cite prior work, the student receives a bad grade, if not outright failure. Gladwell owes his readers and Richard Dawkins an apology for his failure to acknowledge that Gladwell’s idea recycles Dawkins’s earlier work....

http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/2009/11/malcolm-gladwell-memes-and-intellectual.html

Jimmy Crackedcorn said...

Hanna Rosin titled her article "Did Christianity Cause the Crash" rather than more accurately "Did the Prosperity Gospel Cause the Crash" for a reason.

Jews could do us all a favor by getting us to abandon the universalist nostrums of Christianity. Trouble is, what would we replace it with, besides leftist liberalism?

I can understand how the prosperity gospel falls in line with certain aspects of Christianity, tough. Miserliness comes from a lack of both faith and hope - worry that you'll lose your job, that an unexpected expense will arise, whatever. The prosperity gospel is all about having faith and hope, and throwing caution to the wind.

As for Mestizo Protesantism, you make the mistake of assuming that in switching from Catholicis to Protestants that these Mestizos were joining the upper-class East Anglian Congregationalist/Episcopalian/Puritan mindset of thrift, education, and hard work of old. Instead they were just switching from one type of ubersuperstitious religion to another. About the best you can hope for from Mestizos is that they become Mormons, which is about as close to the old Puritan attitude as you get nowadays. And from where I sit, even the Mormons seem to be loosening up (or dumbing down) a bit in order to win Mestizo converts and keep them in the fold.

Anonymous said...

To me the Prosperity Gospel is a symptom of an economic environment where patient hard work seldom pays off.

Komment Kontrol probably won't allow me to say this, but here it goes anyway: For peoples with a mean IQ down around 80 [if not lower], patient hard work NEVER pays off.

If your IQ is in the 80s, or even the 90s, then about the most you can ever hope for would be owning a single-wide trailer to live in, and a broken-down old rust-bucket of a car to drive around town.

For those folks, there are only two or three choices in life:

1) Be content with your circumstances as they are, or

2) Invest your hopes and dreams in a fantasy [such as a CRA subprime loan] which can never come true, or

3) Vote for a politician like Obama who will deliver the goodies.

Ben Franklin said...

The role of Christianity in relation to third world immigrants in the USA is part of what Philip Jenkins refers to as the “Next Christianity”, meaning the transformation of Christianity via its spread in the “global south”, both in South America and in Africa and Asia.

Jenkins notes that poverty is one of the main factors in the lives of these new and growing Christian communities. These third world peoples view Christianity through mysticism and the need for solutions to everyday needs such as medical treatments (healing) and financial needs.

The Catholic Church will in future be defined by these third world Catholics, as it soon will be in the United States due to Latino immigration. Pentecostals are also growing in the “global south” for the same reasons the Catholic Church is growing there. Both can adapt to the mystical and superstitious role that a religion can play in the everyday lives of uneducated and impoverished third world masses.

TGGP said...

Gilder has always argued that Father Divine's followers did well for themselves economically even net of their contributions to him.
People who tithe, controlling for income, tend to do pretty well, if only because they decided in advance to keep track of their finances.

Anonymous said...

The Roman Catholic Church is objectively in favor of the swamping of the West by third world masses. I guess the Catholic Church views this as yet another opportunity for increasing suffering in the world, by destroying many of the only functioning nation-states left standing:

http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/english/2009/11/09/visualizza_new.html_1615791022.html

Pope, migration is opportunity
World Congress on Migrants opens in Vatican

Vatican City, November 9 - Migration is a growing issue worldwide but should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem, Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday. Addressing the first session of the Vatican's World Congress on Migrants, the pontiff said migration was ''a bigger issue than ever before, both in terms of size and complexity''. ''It now affects nearly every country in the world and is part of the vast process of globalization,'' Benedict said. ''Many migrants leave their countries to escape living conditions that are humanly unacceptable but without finding the welcome they hope for elsewhere''. The pope urged delegates to view migration as a positive phenomenon ''that helps encourage understanding between peoples and builds peace and effective development in every nation''. The Vatican's 'migration minister' Antonio Maria Veglio' expressed similar ideas, calling for an end to ''fears arising from a view of migration as an unknown quantity and reduced solely to a public order issue to be dealt with through repressive measures''. Another key speaker at the opening session was Italian Senate Speaker Renato Schifani, part of a centre-right government whose policies have been repeatedly rapped by leading Church figures in recent months. ''Immigration risks becoming nothing more than an ideological issue if reduced to polemics between those who are concerned with security and those who worry about integration,'' said Schifani. He called for an end to immigration being used as an ''inappropriate political tool'', which he said meant ''recognizing first and foremost that security and integration, legality and welcome, and law and justice are all intertwined issues''. Veglio', who heads the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, has been one of several prominent Vatican figures to express concern over the Italian government's immigration policies, particularly a new Italian law criminalizing illegal immigration.

The law imposes hefty fines on illegal immigrants as well as on Italians - with the exception of doctors and school principals - who fail to report migrants living in the country without documents.

Landlords who rent to migrants without papers face tough fines, while parents without legal status will be unable to access public services for their infants. Vatican criticism has also centred on a controversial push-back policy launched in May, under which migrant boats intercepted in the Mediterranean are sent back to Libya, which is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention. The 6th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, which runs until November 12, began with a mass in the Vatican basilica followed by an opening session and audience with the pope. Debate on the first day was dedicated to the theme of population movements in the context of globalization.

Jimmy Crackedcorn said...

People who tithe, controlling for income, tend to do pretty well, if only because they decided in advance to keep track of their finances

Interesting. Data? I do know that Utah has long been know for its relatively high level of bankruptcies, though of course other factors might be involved. And people who tithe are almost, by definition, not in a bind...because they can afford to tithe. I suspect they are also more likely to live, controlling for income, in places with lower costs of living (back to Utah...) - the Mormon/evangelical vote is famously small in places like San Francisco and New York.

Jimmy Crackedcorn said...

For peoples with a mean IQ down around 80 [if not lower], patient hard work NEVER pays off.

I do like a lot of the explanations HBD has to offer, but for God's sake I'll never understand the attitude that genetics is all there is. For any given level of IQ, the harder you work and the more knowledgeable you make yourself, the better in life you will do. I mean would any of you not send your child to school because his IQ was X, and therefore he is destined to do as well as the average person with an IQ of X no matter what he learns or how hard he tries?

Anonymous said...

Speculative bubbles happen because people want to become wealthy without earning it. If the mores of a society hold this to be a fault, known as "greed", people will not stop wanting money, but they do get a little bashful about it, and some guy hawking a pyramid scam will look disreputable in the eyes of his fellows. He will not get many subscribers.

If, on the other hand, the preachers preach that God's elect can be discerned by their material prosperity (as Calvin taught)...well, the first bubble in modern times did happen among Dutch Calvinists.

Anonymous said...

Hanna Rosin has a cheek of course. I'm just guessing that she is ethnically related to most of the high-rollers on WS who engineered the crash. But she has a point with the prosperity Gospel. That is a perfidious lie which has been poisoning Christianity in most Anglo-Saxon countries for 2-3 decades now. Traditional Christianity would rather give the likes of Rosin the creeps coz it tended to build wealthy family hierarchies, much like Rosin's (presumed) faith does.

Anonymous said...

Speculative bubbles happen because people want to become wealthy without earning it.

But they happen, too, because people never really know what the genuine value of an asset is. When do I get on? When do I get off? Is it too high, too low, just right? And what made this speculative bubble even harder to avoid was the fact that it was real estate - the very roof over your head. It's relatively easy to avoid buying tulips or internet stocks in a boom market - you may lose out, but it probably won't keep you from owning a home. With rising real estate people have to ask the nagging question, "If I don't buy a home now will I ever be able to afford one?"

I know. I was asking that question. Half of me is glad I waited. The other half of me is pissed I didn't buy 5 years ago then cash out.

Thomas said...

I'm sorry, but did you write that "If Cotton Mather were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave"? Not to be harsh, but that's a malapropism worthy of Yogi Berra. :)

Jeff Burton said...

Glaivester: Baptist, Congregationalist, and to a lesser extent Methodist, churches could be considered a third branch, and probably should be considered separately.

I don't know how to put it politely, but this is nonsense. Please consult the bare outlines Protestant history. Do you even know whence Methodism came? Congregationalism? There are thousands of Baptist congregations in North America that hew more faithfully to the Synod of Dort than does the mainline Presbyterian church.

Simon said...

I knew George Bush subscribed to a corrupt and debased form of greed-based Protestantism, but I hadn't connected it with his love of Mestizos and the Diversity Recession. Interesting, thanks.

Robert said...

"He was an interesting looking fellow, rather resembling Little Richard."

More like a cross between Johnny Mathis and Frazier Thomas.
http://www.toontracker.com/garfieldgoose/garfield.htm

David said...

To blame is the dumbing down of America, not the operation of Christianity. Religion is simply one (admittedly quite hospitable) vector through which the legion of morons on this earth does its stuff.

Isn't a society with a diminishing average "g" (general intelligence) like a brain with a diminishing oxygen supply? (Steve loves brain illustrations.) First comes the lessened ability to think, plan, know what's going on. Then the hallucinations start. Finally death.

Maybe a more apt comparison is to someone losing his intelligence because of some ghastly brain disease. Uncle Sam is becoming retarded: look at him out in the rain, buying lottery tickets and kissing a rabbit's foot. Praise El Jesus!

Anonymous said...

It's the Gospel of Diversity that caused the Mortgage Meltdown, as Steve has been arguing week after week, month after month.

Of course,when you make easy credit available to innumerate simpletons they will rush to abuse it and borrow more than they can pay back -- or bid up a house in Compton to five times what it's really worth. The Prosperity Gospel is just one of many entitlement philosophies that caused NAMs to stampede the offices of mortgage brokers.

Personally, I think deadbeat Mexicans saw easy money to buy houses as a form of reparation from white society for the theft of Aztlan by the Gringos. And a tool for getting it back, along with going on Gringo's dole and having a lot of kids. Meanwhile, Wall Street Bankers thought all their exorbitant short term profits made off lending to deadbeat Mexicans to be a reward from God for being so virtuous in bringing Diversity to bigoted white mainstream America.

Based on the current state of our economy, and society, I wonder what Divine Providence thinks about diversity now?

Aaron said...

I know a bunch of people who are into the prosperity gospel stuff. But they tend to be intelligent, talented middle Americans with good incomes, so naturally it seems to work for them, at least during boom times like the past couple decades. They thought positive thoughts and acted rich and they got richer, whaddya know?

Maybe they took out second mortgages or bought things they couldn't really afford, but they weren't getting into sub-prime loans or anything they couldn't earn their way out of if they had to. They could afford to think God wanted them to have a new house.

I suspect that attitude is wearing off as we enter a depression, though.

I don't think you're going to see much of this in Catholic churches. (And Hispanic immigrants aren't as attached to Catholic beliefs as the polls and George Bush like to think, as the voting patterns and abortion numbers clearly show; they're open to drifting away to less demanding creeds.) There's something very Protestant-TV-minister about prosperity gospel, and the Catholics who were attracted to that have already left.

David said...

> "ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is why they are rich. That is why they are trusted with money. That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men." - Russell Conwell, 1890 <

1890. If Conwell came back to life today, would he say the same thing about Madoff and his ilk? Or a Hollywood producer? Or a predatory securitizer? Or an ACORN bureaucrat? Or would he be spinning in his grave in circles?

Eman said...

This lowering of Christianity to base materialism is the exact opposite of what the religion is all about; for the longest time, Christian Europe explicitly outlawed usury, looked very suspiciously upon "filthy lucre," and revered the supposedly divine Jesus who chased the money-changers out of the temple and fervently denounced the evils of money and materialism (according to the New Testament). Much of the New Testament is very hostile to money, usury, merchants, commercialism, and so on.

Tom Piatak said...

Ben Franklin:

I was merely pointing out what the article said. It focused on the Prosperity Gospel, and all of the people it highlighted are in fact Evangelicals or Pentecostals. The Prosperity Gospel is not found in Catholic churches and, indeed, strikes this Catholic as heretical.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry, but did you write that "If Cotton Mather were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave"? Not to be harsh, but that's a malapropism worthy of Yogi Berra. :)"

That's not harsh. That's high praise.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has pointed out the obvious Heresy in all this.

Gonzales: money is “really important,” and besides, “we love the money in Jesus Christ’s name! Jesus loved money too!”

Jesus: "For the Love of Money is the Root of All Evil".

Moses: "Thou shalt not covet..."

The whole deal seems to be based on the love of money and the coveting of your neighbour's riches. Not any genuine flavor of Christianity, but a heretic cult.

jimbo said...

As both Adam Smith and Keynes pointed out, speculative bubbles happen when banks are allowed to lend money to speculators. This creates a positive feedback mechanism that always ends up in a crash, regardless of the IQs or the culture of the people involved. All it takes is something to spark it. The housing bubble was set up by a long, slow process of reduced lending standards, and then sparked by a reduction in interest rates that caused a concomitant increase in home values.

Once the prices start going up, for whatever reason, the positive feedback of debt-fueled speculation increases them until the debts can no longer be serviced, and then the crash comes. It's happened with the most frugal and smart europeans as well as lazy and dumb mestizos, and will happen again. The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

RandyB said...

When the bust formerly known as expanded minority homeownership was in full swing, I remember there was an article saying that minority group members were more likely to get approved for a loan if their broker was of the same ethnicity. The interpretation at the time was that culturally-familiar officers could recognize non-traditional financial resources.

Another likely possibility is that affinity marketing was being used to create implicit trust.

Now that we know minorities were taking out bad loans, you don't hear about the minority broker angle any more.

Anonymous said...

Almost no Protestants in this list of evil doers from Charles Gasparino of CNBC: Cisneros, Coumo, Greenspan, Weil, Cayne, Fuld, Stan O'Neal. This is the economic version of Murder Inc.



http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2009/11/02/an_interview_with_charlie_gasparino_97480.html



RCM: Who's at the top of your list of people who should be held accountable for the unraveling of the global financial system?

Gasparino: The politically correct answer would list a long line of risk-taking CEOs starting with Stan O'Neal at Merrill, Sandy Weill and Chuck Prince at Citi, Jimmy Cayne at Bear, and of course former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld, as well as various senior traders at these firms. They're all in my book with their contributions to the demise of the financial system.

But what you will also find in my book, which I guarantee is absent from most of the others, is the root cause of the risk taking, which I believe begins and ends with the policy makers. The various heads of HUD, like Henry Cisneros, Andrew Cuomo and those in the Bush Administration who believed owning a home was a right, rather than something that should be earned, led to the disaster at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which spread its guarantees to subprime loans, a place it traditionally stayed away from.



You also can't excuse Alan Greenspan for handing out free money to Wall Street every time the big firms screwed up over the past thirty years. It gave them incentive to double down on their risky bets until of course they double-downed so much the system blew up.

Anonymous said...

some thoughts about "Father Divine". I think a key point to notice about that (blasphemous) cult was that it was fairly successful in building a "high trust community" and imposing discipline for group of people not renowned for such qualities. It may also have helped to provide its members employment with lower than market wages and cheaper than market housing (through overcrowding, which requires higher trust to work). In other words - competently managed communes work. If the commune takes in people who have trouble managing their life well by themselves and does it for them, it definitely works for them.

Incidentally, notice that the Nation of Islam is trying to walk basically in the same footsteps, economically speaking. They just seem to be doing it more incompetently, blowing money on farming, antagonizing everybody and flirting with gangbangers. Then again, their target audience has forgotten how to work (which was not the case with blacks during the Depression) and are not particularly employable even in the best case nowadays.

keypusher said...

Ben Franklin

Jenkins notes that poverty is one of the main factors in the lives of these new and growing Christian communities. These third world peoples view Christianity through mysticism and the need for solutions to everyday needs such as medical treatments (healing) and financial needs.

It's not all bad. I saw a Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet on money recently. There was a lot of hardheaded, practical advice on watching your money, budgeting, putting a little bit aside, being practical. Also some good advice for families, e.g. encouraging husbands/fathers to think of their paycheck as belonging to the family, and not to them alone.

John Seiler said...

Rev. Ike also rewrote the Gospel to read, "The LACK of money is the root of all evil."

He was big on a Detroit TV station in the 1970s.

idealart said...

The point of the oikophobic Atlantic article is to attack the West's crumbling bedrock, Christianity. Christianity built the wealth of the West by paradoxically (and not ironically) living within its means. We no longer know how to do this. The West began to seriously lose its way about the time Darwin, Freud and Marx moved into the ranks of the elite's spiritual void – percolating downward into less sophisticated minds over the course of many generations.

Jesus was asked why some were born with so much and others so little. He used the parable of the seeds thrown on the ground. Some seeds fell on rocky soil, others on rich soil and others in between. Western people understood this for centuries. After the Enlightenment the edifice began to collapse and here we are. Total Equality. But, man, its expensive isn't it?

Mr. Anon said...

"Pastor Garay, 48, is short and stocky, with thick black hair combed back. In his off hours, he looks like a contented tourist, in his printed Hawaiian shirts or bright guayaberas. But he preaches with a ferocity that taps into his youth as a cocaine dealer with a knife in his back pocket. “Fight the attack of the devil on my finances! Fight him! We declare financial blessings!"

It is occasionally amusing to observe this country as it slowly, steadily turns into a Carl Hiassen novel.

Anonymous said...

I do like a lot of the explanations HBD has to offer, but for God's sake I'll never understand the attitude that genetics is all there is. For any given level of IQ, the harder you work and the more knowledgeable you make yourself, the better in life you will do. I mean would any of you not send your child to school because his IQ was X, and therefore he is destined to do as well as the average person with an IQ of X no matter what he learns or how hard he tries?

You still aren't sufficiently cynical [yet].

the more knowledgeable you make yourself

People with IQs in the 80s CAN'T make themselves more knowledgeable - they are incapable of learning to read, much less actually reading and then gaining any sort of insight from what they've read.

as well as the average person with an IQ of X

Actually, I was being kind when I asserted that folks with IQs in the 80s & 90s might aspire to owning their own single-wide trailers and their own rust-bucket automobiles.

When you're dealing with populations that have an average IQ down around 80 [as appears to be the case for two very large groups of folks in the USA], then half of them have IQs in the 70s and the 60s [or even lower than that], and for that half of the bell curve, there's no hope at all - necessarily they will have to be cared for by private charities or public welfare [to include some form of public housing].

Again, you just don't seem to realize [yet] just how awful our demographic situation really is.


PS: For the record, I am not at all certain that folks in the IQ range 80-89 can even reliably [under the best of circumstances] manage to make the monthly payments on a single-wide mobile home.

My guess would be that even in that IQ range, you're looking at fairly substantial government subsidies [either directly, or indirectly] to get them into their singlewides.

Svigor said...

Did Judaism cause the crash? Materialism, dual morality, group differences in IQ and behavioral genetics at 11. Try and imagine the kerfuffle.

Dutch Boy said...

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Luke 12: 16-20

Anonymous said...

Jesus: "For the Love of Money is the Root of All Evil".

Actually that was Saul of Tarsus.

David Davenport said...

Glaivester:

Baptist, Congregationalist, and to a lesser extent Methodist, churches could be considered a third branch, and probably should be considered separately.



Please explain this third branch.

Anonymous said...

I flunked Dr. Bill's intro soc class back in the day....
Wiess '79

Jimmy Crackedcorn said...

Again, you just don't seem to realize [yet] just how awful our demographic situation really is.

Oh I can out doom-and-gloom you any day of the week, buddy. It's not that I don't grasp the societal implications of having an ever larger number of people with sub-90 IQs. It's that, at the individual level, I would never tell someone that hard work and knowledge will never do them any good. I wouldn't tell them that because it isn't true.

rob said...

The Demographic situation is the disaster. Religion is a lagging indicator. Dumb people have dumb religions. If the religion doesn't start stupid, they pull it down. Hell, they'll follow coke dealers who realized that hustling magic is more profitable.

If all the NAMs converted to Judaism, the stereotypes assigned to Jews would change fast.

Lucius is (very unfortunately) correct. The dumbest half of blacks live their lives as if they were retarded. Black men in prison have lower death rates than free blacks. Anyone who beleives in the White Man's Burden, which is pretty much every single "progressive" and respectable republican should realize that some sort of institutional environment with simple manual labor is the only way the 'stoopid' could ever contribute as much as they consume. Otherwise they live like Central Americans and Black Africans.

Lost Pilgrim said...

Peanut butter? For Cripessake at least spread it on something, like a chocolate bar. How do you expect to get any nutrition?

Lost Pilgrim said...

Religion can be uplifting and supportive materially as well as spiritually. Anybody who doubts that should look at Dagger John.

Black Sea said...

"For peoples with a mean IQ down around 80 [if not lower], patient hard work NEVER pays off."

Depends on how you define "pays off." If that means joining the middle class, making the mortgage on a mini-mansion, successfully managing your own investment protfolio, etc. then the statement is pretty accurate.

I think a better definition of "pays off" would be positive returns on investments of time, self-disciple, and effort. In that sense, hard work, as compared to any of the available options, generally does pay off. Crime, especially for stupid people, is a notoriously bad career choice, simply from an economic (forget moral or legal) perspective. Welfare or begging have the advantage of keeping you out of jail, but the opportunities for advancement are limited. All things considered, stocking shelves at WalMart or bagging groceries at Publix, and showing up regularly and soberly to do so, is far more likely to pay off.

Some people imagine that there are few fates worse than living in a singlewide and driving a rustbucket. Actually, life can get a lot worse than that, as most of the working poor, dimmwitted though they may be, often recognize. If you sleep under a bridge or in a drainage tunnel long enough, a singlewide starts looking pretty sweet.

CJ said...

If your IQ is in the 80s, or even the 90s, then about the most you can ever hope for would be owning a single-wide trailer to live in, and a broken-down old rust-bucket of a car to drive around town.

This is nonsense. The rural areas and small towns of inland America and Canada have lots of homeowners with IQs in the 80s. They also frequently manage to buy new cars (models like the Corolla and the Yaris have monthly payments under $200 and can be expected to operate without problems for 10 years). Stable family structure is extremely important, yes. That's how ethnic groups like the Sikhs and Jats who probably have an average IQ around 90 can even manage to own their own homes in the Vancouver area, which is now more expensive than San Francisco. An IQ in the mid-90s is good enough today to graduate from college and get a job teaching elementary or high school.

Let's go the basic numbers. 50% of the entire population scores between 90 and 110; that means 25% of the population scores above 110 and 25% scores below 90. Is one-quarter of America -- 75 million people -- living in singlewide trailers and driving rustbucket jalopies? No, they're not, even though there are some people with IQs of 100 or better who are impoverished because of alcoholism and/or other problems.

Are things getting worse for people on the lefty side of the curve? Yes, they are, but the idea that there is no hope for them is ridiculous. After all, as recently as the 1980s lots of them were living in good conditions.

Anonymous said...

After many years of study, I have discovered the true identity of God……God is Gumby!
You can bend, twist, and shape God into anything you want. Therefore, you can do the same with doctrine.

Anonymous said...

And before you say that a guy with an IQ in the 80-89 range could marry a girl with an IQ in the 80-89 range, and together they could pool their minimum wage incomes to realize $14,500 + $14,500 = $29,000 total income per year, allow me to remind you what actually happens at that income strata:


The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer
April 4, 2007
by Robert Rector, Christine Kim and Shanea Watkins, Ph.D.
heritage.org
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: ...A household’s net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. If the costs of direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services alone are counted, the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $22,449 (expenditures of $32,138 minus $9,689 in taxes)...

The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer
by Robert Rector and Christine Kim
May 21, 2007
heritage.org
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: ...A household's net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. When the costs of direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services are counted, the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588 (expenditures of $30,160 minus $10,573 in taxes)....


Three points:

1) Note that as these IQ 80-89 folks move out of the underground economy, and into the "mainstream economy" [of welfare handouts and AA sinecures], their drain on society increases, from a net of <$19,588>, to a net of <$22,449>.

2) Very roughly, at IQ 80-89, these folks cost the government more than three times as much [in excess of $30,000 per family per year] than they contribute back to the government [less than $10,000 per family per year].

3) But if a population has an average IQ down around 80, then the IQ 80-89 unskilled workers actually represent the upper half of the bell curve; the lower half of the bell curve can't be reliably employed doing anything at all. [By and large, a fellow with an IQ in the 70s can't be relied upon to show up for work every day - punctual and sober and rested and ready to go - so as to push his mop down the hall, much less actually clean up anything as he pushes the mop (even on his good days).]

Again: PLEASE WAKE UP out of this fantasy dream world that you're inhabiting, and SMELL THE COFFEE of cynicism.

Realize now - before it's too late - the utter hopelessness of our demographic situation.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who beleives in the White Man's Burden, which is pretty much every single "progressive" and respectable republican should realize that some sort of institutional environment with simple manual labor is the only way the 'stoopid' could ever contribute as much as they consume.

Prior to 1865, that was known as slavery.

But since about 1900, with the automation of most agricultural tasks, they can't even contribute anymore by picking cotton.

[Yeah, I know, it's doubtful that Komment Kontrol is gonna approve of this one.]

David said...

The 85 to 100s can't meet Thomas Friedman standards (though he wants to throw a lot of Ed money at them). But they certainly can (and many do) meet the rudimentary standard of "stay out of jail, don't go bankrupt, get into a singlewide, and - maybe someday - skip the bus by having a car or having a friend who has a car." This is the fact absent a catastrophic natural disaster or an insane government.

The under-85s, though...oh dear. Well, since some of us are quoting Jesus, here goes. "The poor will always be among us." No reputable God ever promised us a rose garden on earth.

Mike said...

Korean immigrants belonging to Pentecostal churches would easily disprove Rosin's silly hypothesis. The article is an attempt to shift the blame for the crisis from Wall Street's Jewish mafia.

rob said...

By and large, a fellow with an IQ in the 70s can't be relied upon to show up for work every day - punctual and sober and rested and ready to go - so as to push his mop down the hall, much less actually clean up anything as he pushes the mop (even on his good days).

Unemployment data back this up. The unemployment rate for male blacks 15-25 without high school degrees is 48.5%. Include the ones in prisons and jails or mooching of women, how many of the dumbest half of blacks can aspire to a doublewide all on their own?

Anonymous said...

"If your IQ is in the 80s, or even the 90s, then about the most you can ever hope for would be owning a single-wide trailer to live in, and a broken-down old rust-bucket of a car to drive around town."

I've been wondering a bit about what might mitigate the effects of low IQ. One thing I can think of is marriage. I got this idea while reflecting on my own. I like working with my hands and reading operation manuals for cars and lawnmowers but I hate everything that has to do with family finance. So I married an accountant.

But now let's suppose my IQ was quite a bit lower than average. While this fates me to be bad at a lot of things, there is an excellent chance I will be good at one thing. So I do that, like working in a pre-1965 slaughterhouse or laying bricks and pouring cement, and look for a wife who has some basic gifts in domestic arts. Between the two of us there is enough brain power to rent a house, maintain a neat and clean household, and raise children who we entrust to the public school system for enlightenment. Our children in turn see the example of their parents and use it as a basic road map to adulthood.

But the schools are uniformly lousy. The prevailing views on marriage are all too casual. Single motherhood is the rule not the exception on the left hand side of the Bell Curve, now. And immigrants have destroyed the monetary value of unskilled labor. So there is little hope of being a dumb, self respecting, responsible, independent citizen in our country, anymore. The road map to self-respecting adulthood is gone, and dumb people are now compelled to be infantile wards of the state.

Back to my wife. If I hadn't married an accountant, I'd have a 600 credit score, live in an efficiency over a liquor store, and have a regular evening repast of pork and beans washed down with Old Grand-Dad. Instead, I get to live in a pleasant ranch style house with a view of the SF Bay.

Anonymous said...

If your IQ is in the 80s, or even the 90s, then about the most you can ever hope for would be owning a single-wide trailer to live in, and a broken-down old rust-bucket of a car to drive around town.

Unless you belong to a union, in which case you'll probably be a construction worker or auto worker and have a comfortable life.

Jimmy Crackedcorn said...

Korean immigrants belonging to Pentecostal churches would easily disprove Rosin's silly hypothesis. The article is an attempt to shift the blame for the crisis from Wall Street's Jewish mafia.

It's true that Ms. Rosin would never have written an article asking "Did Jews Cause the Crash?" and no "respectable" media outlet would ever publish if she did. However, she is not doing Chritianity or Christians a complete disservice by pointing out its dumber members and beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Low IQ does have its advantages. It usually comes with physical brawn, high pain tolerance, little need for sleep, good distance vision, and general euphoria.

Plus everyone loves and respects people at the low end of the IQ scale, or at least acts tolerant out of pity, and cuts them all sorts of breaks.

David said...

> Low IQ does have its advantages. <

Enjoyed your comment. It works as a strategy too. I often leverage my middling smarts by acting even dumber than I already am. People _do_ cut the stupid some nice breaks, plus they never see me coming. (But one must be careful not to act stupid too often, for then people tend to trample one; and one runs the additional risk of "the face becoming the mask.") This strategy best works on people who are not very bright themselves, and on very bright people who are surrounded by people who aren't bright. It tends not to work at all on bright people accustomed to being surrounded by other bright people. Like "mean girls," packs of the bright ruthlessly crush perceived deviation.

Middletown Girl said...

"Very interesting. But it wasn't the Hispanic immigrants' Catholicism that caused them to believe in the Prosperity Gospel, since they found the Prosperity Gospel in Pentecostal and evangelical churches, not Catholic ones."

Why do I have an impression that Catholic Mexicans were no saner than Penthouse-cost-al ones when it came to the recent economic mess. Someone should look at the full data. After all, just look at the history of Catholic Latin America--borrowing tremendous amounts from world banks, living beyond their means, going deeply into debt, borrowing some more, printing worthless paper money, desperately turning to neo-Marxism or neo-liberalism in search for quick fixes for long-term problems.

But, borrowing and lending around the world would never have been so easy or crazy had it not been controlled by Wall Street moneychangers from Ivy League schools like Harvard. At least uneducated Mexican immigrants have an excuse for their stupidity. What's truly unforgivable is what the educated class of financiers did. They may have been secular but worshiped a god of their own--the vanity of their own brilliance, genius, and do-goodism all rolled into one.

In a way, the fusion of Jesus and Donald Trump in American churches had its counterpart in "New kind of Democrat-ism" under Clinton and "compassionate conservatism" under Bush(and New Labour under Blair). It was as if we could have it all. Bountiful capitalism AND socialism, or more like capitalism AS socialism and socialism AS capitalism. Thus, it is not surprising that Obama became President: A socialist paid for and groomed by billionaire Wall Street, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley Jews. Riches and social consciousness rolled into one, as in the bogus movie PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, shamefully praised even by National Review conservatives eager to believe and preach that fairytale version of capitalism as a panacea to all problems.