Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spiritual poverty

"But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously" (Pope Francis).

“The spiritual poverty of the West is greater than ours… You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness…They feel unloved and unwanted. These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God” (Mother Teresa).

Dellen Millard, the alleged killer of Tim Bosma

The abduction and killing of Tim Bosma and the video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine has shocked people not only in the Toronto area but throughout Canada, and indeed all over the world. Add to this, the drama in the Canadian Senate, where some senators have been accused of making false claims on their expense accounts, and one is left wondering why this has happened, all in the space of  a single week.

In the Bosma case, Dellen Millard, a 27 year-old, has been charged with first-degree murder as well as forcible confinement and theft over $5,000. What would motivate a millionaire like Millard allegedly to kill this young father and burn his body beyond recognition? The media has surmised that it could have been simply for the thrill. Two other men are implicated, one of whom was just arrested and charged.

Ford has not yet officially responded to the accusations made against him, in spite of repeated calls for his resignation. This is the latest in a long series of embarrassing episodes, which includes public drunkenness. There are at least 42 items on that list. Thus far Ford has not denied these allegations, except to say that it is "ridiculous."

The Senate of late has witnessed a series of resignations from the Conservative caucus, but so far not from the Senate. The issue is questionable expense claims, and in the case of Mike Duffy, a possibly illegal payment from the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, so that Duffy could repay the expenses he had improperly claimed and thus avoid further investigation by a Senate committee.

Senator Mike Duffy, a former journalist

What is happening in the Senate is highly politicized, but the story boils down to greed by people who were appointed to their august positions as a reward for services to the governing party at the time. This scandal has now led to renewed calls for its abolition.

The thread that connects Millard, Ford and Duffy is what I like to call "spiritual poverty." Admittedly, this term is ambiguous, but what I mean by it manifests itself as pride, selfishness and addictive behavior, and is the result ultimately of a lack of a living relationship with God, as Mother Teresa puts it. This is a common illness in our society. It is not found in any medical diagnostic manual, but it exists nevertheless.

Like Millard, one can be materially well off, but spiritually poor. How else can one explain someone, who it is alleged, killed Bosma for his truck. The killing, it seems, occurred on the evening that Bosma disappeared. Millard, perhaps with the help of accomplices, then disposed of the body by burning it in an incinerator.

As the media repeatedly reported, Bosma was a "church-going" young man. Bosma's family and friends later thanked the media for their reporting, something which apparently had never happened before. My sister and her husband have very close connections with the Bosma family. And I share their denominational affiliation. Hence I have followed the case closely. I was shocked that this murder took place in our church community.

Tim and Sharlene Bosma on their wedding day

In 1978 Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the bestseller, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, in response to the death of his son at the age of 14. It deals with the problem of evil. How can a good and loving God permit so much suffering? This is indeed one of the most difficult problems in theology.

Why did God permit Tim Bosma to die? As humans, there is no answer to that question. I am not suggesting that attributing "spiritual poverty" to Millard and his accomplices will provide the answer either. It will not. God only knows why this tragic event occurred, and why a family and community had to suffer such grief. Yet even in their grief, their faith gives them hope. This hope was expressed again several times during Bosma's memorial service.

Millard too has family. Whether they have any hope, I do not know. What I see is a very sick young man, who was apparently spoiled rotten as a kid. At age 14, he set a record for being the youngest person to fly a helicopter and a fixed-wing plane solo on the same day. He inherited the family airline business, and owns various properties in Ontario. Such a person does not have to steal a truck, unless he is very, very sick.

Rob Ford is also very sick. He is seriously flawed man, who may not even be aware of his problems, since every week he provides another example of his egregious behavior. His problems are so serious that he should resign, but he may not do that as long as he is unable or unwilling to address his illness. Unfortunately, he is not very smart.

Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto

Mike Duffy and his associates in the Senate are smart people, but they are equally sick. Their greed drives them to do things that their intelligence tells them are inappropriate. Their behavior borders on the illegal, and in some cases may have crossed that boundary, but that is ultimately for the courts to determine.

The Senate story has since then become even more political. So much so that the moral failings of several senators has drifted into the background. The focus is now on the controlling personality of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But that is another issue for another time.

All these people are, in my opinion, "spiritually poor." Nature, as we know, abhors a vacuum. In the spiritual world the same truth applies. When one is spiritually poor, then a vacuum arises and one's behavior becomes inappropriate. This affliction can affect everyone. These people are only a few examples of a more general problem that pervades our society. Many people today have a sense of entitlement -- the world owes them a living -- with all the accompaniments, a mansion, several cars, and so on. 

Everyone needs to become spiritually richer. One does not have to become a member of any particular faith in order to do so. The resources for spiritual growth can be found in any faith, and even among humanists who claim to have no faith at all. One needs only to stop being self-centered and focus instead on others.

This is what Jesus taught when he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit are those whose pride and sense of independence has been broken so that they are open to God, or at least something or someone outside of themselves. Then they no longer are as selfish as they were before. As we all realize, this is part of a long process that does not happen overnight, but happen it does.

Jesus does not promise that the poor in spirit will become materially rich, enjoy endless pleasure and constant laughter. But he does promise hope and joy that does not depend on outward circumstances. "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven," he promises. This is an upside-down kingdom because it is diametrically opposed to what this world values and praises. 

God's blessing rests on those who humble themselves and come to him with broken and contrite hearts. As were reminded at the memorial service for Tim Bosma, he was not a "plaster saint." He was not perfect, anymore than anyone of us is perfect. But we can all experience communion with God. 

Sadly, that communion seems to be lacking in the lives of people such as Millard, Ford, and Duffy. I have selected these three, which all occurred in the same week, merely as examples, but I could have chosen many others. There is more than enough evil in the world to cite, but that should not be necessary.

Being poor is spirit is not the same as being spiritually poor. The latter is widespread today. It can be found everywhere. While it does not explain evil, recognition of this poverty is a prerequisite to providing a cure. People like those I have mentioned need to look into their hearts and repent of their behavior. Yet that is something that I suspect not one of them will do. All that we can do for them is pray for a change of heart.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian or Muslim, pray that those who are spiritually poor may become poor in spirit and live as God wants them to live. Many other religions agree. I invite them to pray as well. And even if you do not profess any religion, you too can live this way. Many atheists and humanists already do.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Prosperity Gospel: a new heresy

   This is the fourth in a series on the influence of capitalism on our daily lives and that of others

While Chrapitalism is a product illicit union of the Christianity with capitalism, the prosperity gospel is the result of the unbiblical marriage of Christian theology with capitalism. The prosperity gospel is a heresy because it is a distortion of the gospel. It uses bad theology and a faulty interpretation of the Bible.

The prosperity gospel is known under a variety of names: Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology. It emphasizes that believers do not have to wait until they get to heaven, but that God's promised generosity is already available in this life, and they can claim it for themselves. The core teaching is simply that "God wants all Christians to be very rich in this life, stay healthy, and the key is giving through tithes and offerings."

Although the prosperity gospel  uses many biblical texts to support its theology, its signature text is probably John 10: 10: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." There  are many more texts, such as Malachi 3:10, Matthew 25: 14-30, Philippians 4: 9, and 3 John 2 that are used -- or more accurately misused -- by the prosperity gospel.

In a poll sponsored by TIME magazine, 17% of Christians said they consider themselves part of such a movement, while 61% believe that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31% agree that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

The prosperity gospel movement is centered on faith, which is conceived of as an "activator," a power given to believers that binds and looses spiritual forces and turns the spoken word into reality.

It depicts faith as visibly demonstrated in wealth and health. This can be measured both in the wallet -- one's personal wealth -- and in the body -- one's personal health -- and makes material reality the measure of the success of immaterial faith. It expects that faith is marked by victory which no political, social, or economic circumstance can stop. 

The origins of prosperity gospel can be found in the Pentecostal deliverance and healing ministries in the 40s and 50s. The power of positive thinking of Norman Vincent Peale also played a role. It reached maturity by the late 70s as a robust pan-denominational movement that has since then spread to many parts of the world.

Three evangelists are commonly viewed as founders of the prosperity gospel movement: Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Frederick K.C. Price. One of the oldest and best-known proponents of prosperity theology was Oral Roberts. Other names associated with the movement include Benny Hinn, Frederick Price, T.D. Jakes, Robert Tilton, and the appropriately named Creflo DollarJoel Osteen is often included, although he dissociates himself from it somewhat.

In the 60s, prosperity gospel teachers turned to televangelism and came to dominate religious programming in the US.  Trinity Broadcasting Network later became very prominent. Schools, such as Hagin's RHEMA Bible Training Center, also helped to spread the message, as did many books, such as Bruce Wilkersons' The Prayer of Jabez.

Nigeria became a breeding ground that helped to spread this unbiblical teaching, based on money, greed, lust, deception and materialism, all over Africa. This false gospel targets especially the poorest, weakest, most hopeless, helpless and desperate members of African society. The primary beneficiaries are the prosperity teachers who have become super-rich, while millions of their followers and givers live in abject poverty and lack the basic necessities of life.

In Nigeria, the prosperity gospel is preached not only in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches but can be heard today in many mainline churches as well, including the Anglican Church. I guess that these mainline pastors figured it was better to jump on the prosperity bandwagon than lose all their flock to other churches. It doesn't help that, even in the mainline churches, Nigerian pastors tend to be poorly educated.

The prosperity gospel is built upon a number of erroneous theological arguments, of which I can provide only a summary (adapted from "The Bankruptcy of the Prosperity Gospel" by David Jones):
  • A faulty understanding of the covenant with Abraham. Christians share in this covenant, but for the prosperity gospel this includes not just spiritual blessings, but also includes material ones. Moreover, these blessings are unconditional.
  • A faulty understanding of the atonement based on a misinterpretation of 2 Cor. 8:9, where Paul in no way teaches that Christ died on the cross for the purpose of increasing anyone’s net material worth.
  • A faulty understanding of the biblical teachings on giving. This is built upon faulty motives. One ought give in order to get a great return. Edward Pousson observes those who espouse this message are held captive by the American dream.
  • A faulty understanding of the biblical teachings on faith. Faith is not simply trust in God, but a spiritual force that is directed at God so that he will bless people.
  • A faulty view of the relationship between God and man. If the prosperity gospel is correct, grace becomes obsolete. Then God becomes irrelevant, since man is the measure of all things.
  • All of this is the result of a faulty hermeneutic. Biblical texts are repeatedly  misinterpreted. 3 John 2 is an example. This text is a greeting, and should not be used to derive doctrines. Also, the Greek word here, which is used only four times in Scripture, does not mean to prosper in the sense of “gaining material possessions,” as the prosperity gospel teaches, but rather means “to grant a prosperous expedition and expeditious journey,” or “to lead by a direct and easy way.”

For me, the issue is not just an idiosyncratic misreading of the Bible, with the faulty theology that results, but something more serious. TIME magazine describes the prosperity gospel as the latest lurch in Protestantism's ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that "you don't have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God's blessing,"

The prosperity gospel is a baptized form of capitalism. Capitalism has been brought into the church and given a position of honor. Unfortunately, God has been shunted aside. Instead Mammom is being worshiped as if he were the true God. This is idolatry. It is a perversion of the gospel. 

Jesus was born poor and he died poor. If a person's faith could merit material blessings, then he would been the richest man in the world. Instead, at his incarnation, "he made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). Only later did God exalt him and restore him to his former glory. This is the true gospel of Jesus, not the materialistic version the prosperity gospel presents. 

Jesus died on a cross, not in a huge mansion. The prosperity gospel is also not the gospel that the twelve apostles preached. Nearly every last one of them was martyred for his faith. Contrast the life of Jesus and the apostles with the lifestyle of those who espouse the prosperity gospel. 

This is why the prosperity gospel is a heresy. People are being led astray --  not only believers, who are taught a perverted form of the gospel but also unbelievers who get a very distorted picture of the Christian faith and of the Jesus whom these preachers represent. 

While I commend them for their zeal for evangelism, all too often this is motivated by an even greater zeal for wealth on their part as well as that of the people they are preaching to. Greed seems to be the primary motivation behind the prosperity gospel movement. For that reason it must be condemned. 

Blaise Pascal famously said that God can even use the lesser motives of men. God can use these prosperity preachers, and he does. Thus we should be careful how we judge them. Our judgment is not of them but of their theology. We must leave any further judgment to God.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


   This is the third in a series on the influence of capitalism on our daily lives and that of others

Chrapitalism is a neologism that expresses the union of Christianity and capitalism. When I first saw this word, I mentally confused it with "crapitalism," which is defined as "the innate tendency of capitalism to subvert democratic and idealistic tendencies in a government, profession or organization." 

Chrapitalism is indeed a form of crapitalism, in the sense that capitalism has subverted Christianity by turning it into something that is foreign to the essence of what Christ intended.

In a book review in Books & Culture, Eugne McCarraher describes Chrapitalism as "the lucrative merger of Christianity and capitalism, Americas most enduring covenant theology. It's the core of 'American exceptionalism,' the sanctimonious and blood-spattered myth of providential anointment for global dominion."

"In the Chrapitalist gospel, the rich young man goes away richer, for God and Mommon have pooled their capital, forming a bi-theistic investment group, and laundered the money in baptismal fonts before parking it in off-shore accounts."

"Chrapitalism has been America's distinctive and gilded contribution to religion and theology, a delusion that beloved community can be built on the foundations of capitalist property. As the American Empire wanes, so will its established religion; the erosion of Chrapitalism will generate a moral and spiritual maelstrom."

McCarraher does not mince words in his description of Chrapitalism. I want to thank him for introducing me to this term that more than any other I have have ever met best describes the illicit union of Christianity and capitalism. Unfortunately, too many Americans are oblivious of their incompatibility.

Many of them think that they are synonymous. In a recent poll, 36 percent of Americans thinks so, while 44 percent do not. This holds regardless of religious affiliation. But Republicans and Tea Party members, college graduates, and members of high-income households view these two systems as more compatible than others, such as women, Democrats, and those of low income, who are more likely to believe they are incompatible.

With the American Empire beginning to disintegrate, and the demise of the American Dream becoming more real everyday, as we noticed in my latest post, as the middle class slowly disappears, some Americans are waking up to the idolatrous nature of Chrapitalism.

But their Casandra-like warnings are largely dismissed, even by many fellow Christians who prefer to remain oblivious to this idolatry and dismiss their objections as treasonous.

The harsh realities of the current recession may finally push many disadvantaged groups to question even more the compatibility of Christianity and capitalism. The followers of the cult of capitalism, however, may be harder to persuade.

Some are still unable to recognize the incongruity of preaching about Jesus while chasing the almighty dollar. They have been brainwashed to believe in a "trickle down" economy by the plutocrats of this world. They do not realize how they are used by scheming politicians who have been bought to promote the interests of the very rich.

In this respect, Barack Obama is little better than George W, Bush, who cynically used evangelical voters while pursuing the interests of rich individuals and corporations who had showered him with election funds. Every president has largely catered to the interests of the plutocracy. Presidents too are politicians.

The plutocrats of this world control the reins of power. Their chief concern is to make as much money as possible, even if that involves trampling on people's human rights, as happened recently in Bangladesh, where more than 1000 people died after the building in which they worked collapsed.

In Canada the federal government has already ravaged welfare and unemployment insurance and is now intent on gutting pensions in the unionized public sector,. All this is happening under a prime minister who is an evangelical Christian and whose party has in past elections received a lot of support from many Christians.

Social welfare programs are being undermined in many countries, while the rich receive subsidies. Moreover, the rich stash much of their loot in overseas accounts where it is safe from the taxman. In Canada, individuals and corporations have hidden about $8 billion a year overseas.

When this was reported recently, the response of the government was that it would ferret out those who did this, while at the same time it was laying off staff from the Canada Revenue Agency, who are responsible to do that. This lost revenue will need to be made up by middle class tax payers who cannot hide their wealth that way, for elementary two reasons: they don't have it, and they don't have the resources to hide it.

Are there alternatives to capitalism? Of course, there are, but I am not promoting any particular alternative in this post, since each one has both strengths and weaknesses.

What I am affirming it this: capitalism is a seriously flawed system that privatizes profits and socializes risk. It hurts the weakest members of society, while the benefits accrue to the wealthiest.

Would Jesus approve this system? Hardly! Would the man who drove the money changers out of the temple not treat the denizens of Wall Street the same way, if he were to return today?

The system is so broken and seriously flawed that it will be exceedingly difficult to repair. Therefore, while some Christians remain blind to Chrapitalism, the urgently needed changes that will make it possible for everyone in society to benefit equitably, and not just plutocrats, cannot transpire.

These Christians are unwilling or unable to help the poor and disadvantaged, and one day there will be no one left to defend them. By then it will be too late. The 1000 plus workers who were killed in Bangladesh are a symptom of what will happen to the rest of us sooner or later.

Capitalism is killing us! One way to stop it is to end Chrapitalism. Stop it, or Jesus will condemn us too!

Read the following poster. Except for some offensive language, it has a powerful but disturbing message. I expect it will disturb you as much as it does me. 

I hope that this post inspires you to engage in a meaningful dialogue on this topic both with me and others.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The disappearing middle class and the changing nature of work

This is the second of a series on the influence of capitalism on our daily lives and that of others

The disappearing middle class has become a widely accepted axiom today. A few dissenting voices can be heard, but the majority continue to speak about a disappearing or vanishing middle class. What is clear is that the disparity between the very rich and the very poor is steadily increasing, while the middle class is being squeezed out of existence.

These few illustrative facts are from the US, although other countries can produce similar figures showing the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor and the growing disappearance of the middle class:

--In the US during 2010, 37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners, 56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent, while only 7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent.

--The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined owns. According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million together. The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 % of all the wealth in the US.

--According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 1979 and 2007 income growth for the top 1 percent of all US income earners was an astounding 390 percent. For the bottom 90 percent, income growth was only 5 percent over that same time period.

--In 2010, 2.6 million more Americans descended into poverty. That was the largest increase that was seen since the US government began keeping statistics on this in 1959. In the year 2000, 11.3% of all Americans were living in poverty. Today, 15.1 % of all Americans are living in poverty.

--In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, more than 46 million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one government anti-poverty program. And federal housing assistance increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.

--According to Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, about 53 percent of all income went to the middle class in the 1970s, but today only about 46 percent of all income does.

--In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”. By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods.” Yet, according to a CBS poll in 2007, 90 percent of all Americans consider themselves middle class.

--According to a recent report produced by Pew Charitable Trusts, approximately one out of every three Americans that grew up in a middle class household has slipped down the income ladder.

Where are the middle class going? These figures suggest that many are becoming poorer and thus dropping into the poor class. A few, however, are moving up into the rich class, a fact that is often cited by some who question the disappearance of the middle class.

There are many definitions of precisely who is middle class, which is probably the main reason why there is so much disagreement about the disappearance of the middle class. 

The simplest definition is to include those who fall in the middle third of the income distribution. In Canada, that is a broad category, with incomes ranging from $35,000 to $90,000. In the US, which uses a different standard, a household making between $24,376 to $73,129 per year would be considered middle class.

Still another way to define the middle class is in terms of household income within 50 percent of the median, as is illustrated in the following chart. But notice how this group is steadily getting smaller every decade.

Why is middle class being systematically wiped out in the US and other countries?  There are many answers. Some are political, some are economic, and some are technological.

In the US today, big businesses and wealthy individuals fund the campaigns of politicians, and in turn these politicians pass laws which rig the game in their favor. It is a symbiotic relationship which is bad for America. The same situation prevails in other countries.

Many jobs are disappearing today. Some for economic reasons, because it is cheaper to produce goods overseas than it is in the US or Canada, as was evident in the previous post dealing with garments made by workers in Bangladesh who are operating in substandard working conditions. Outsourcing is commonplace today in nearly every industry, including the service industries. We call this globalization.

Technology plays perhaps the most significant role in the disappearance of jobs. Many jobs are no longer as important as they once were or can be performed more cheaply through outsourcing or by robots. The car industry uses robots extensively in the manufacturing process.

The middle class is disappearing in part because many traditional middle-class skills are becoming obsolete. Routine clerical work and many other kinds of work can now be done by computers and robots. Algorithms and machines are replacing customer service agents and even grocery checkout clerks.

At the low end of the spectrum, the jobs that are left are those that computers and robots cannot do yet, such as janitorial work. While at the high end of the spectrum, the jobs that are left are again those that computers cannot do yet, such as law, medicine and management.  But the jobs of those in between are threatened. The list is almost endless, and it is growing by the day.

Paralegals, who do routine research for lawyers, are already being replaced by computers. This is just one example. And as technology advances, even more people in the middle of the spectrum are going to be elbowed out of the workforce.

Not only are jobs disappearing, those who do have jobs have to work harder for what they get. Families have to work long hours to maintain a middle-class existence.

An article in Macleans, a Canadian news magazine, the number of two-income families has soared to well over 70 per cent, from just 30 per cent in the 1970s. That means in most households, both parents need a job to pay the mortgage. The result is that they are logging twice the work hours to maintain a standard of living that was easily affordable on a single income a few decades ago.

In addition, having two working parents often necessitates extra costs like child care, which can run upwards of $10,000 a year per child, and a second car to commute to two jobs. At the end of the day, even double incomes are not the panacea they once were.

The article continues by pointing out that the middle-class squeeze has been happening for decades, but it was hidden from view and papered over by a buoyant economy. As long as unemployment was low and credit was easy, middle income earners could fool themselves into thinking that they were making progress.

But now the economy is in a recession that continues to persist. Economists say the middle class might not rebound when the recession is over. In the early ’80s and ’90s, both the real incomes of the middle class declined and the share of middle-class incomes declined. But when those recessions ended, the job losses were largely recouped. This time around, however, not only are the jobs disappearing, but the plants that supported them are closing too.

Even education is no longer the panacea that it once was. It has become unaffordable for many students. Twenty years ago, according to Macleans, going to university for a year would have cost roughly $5,000 (with tuition and living expenses). Today, it is upwards of $12,000. Meanwhile, financial aid for students is getting increasingly scarce. The cut-off level for university loans and bursaries is now well below what people would consider to be a middle-income income.

For those unlucky enough to fall from the comfort of the middle class, getting back in is now harder than ever. Troubling signs are beginning to emerge that there is less mobility between the working poor and the middle class than there used to be, so once you are out, it could be for life.

If the slogan of the Occupy movement, "We are the 99 %," is ever to be more than just that, the growing disparity between the very rich and the very poor needs to be addressed meaningfully. If more and more people, for whatever reason, are driven into poverty, then this must become a concern for all of us, and not only for those who are directly affected. Because sooner or later, nearly everyone will be affected.

As a society, we are going to have to rethink the nature of work. The disappearing middle class provides us with not only the chance but also the moral obligation to do so. In an era when jobs are disappearing every day, we must ask ourselves, are jobs a right and not just a privilege?

I am only raising this issue. I certainly don't have the answers, but I do hope that together we can begin this discussion. It is important.

This series deals with the influence of capitalism, thus at some point we must include a discussion of possible alternatives. That is quite an agenda, but that should not deter us. Our future is at stake.