A rich man's wealth is his strong city, And like a high wall in his own imagination.The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him.-Proverbs of Ancient Hebrew writings, also known as Proverbs 18:11; Ecclesiastes 5:12; and Proverbs 28:11
Good morning, my brothers. I am honored that you have chosen me to speak to you, the All-Wealthy Fathers Under Liberty, for I have been concerned about our plight for some time. We have been subjected to oppression long enough! (Cheers in the crowd.) I was shocked last week to hear Brother Steven’s speech on hate crime in motion pictures. Up until this point, I have enjoyed the James Bond movies—but no more. Now I understand that they are simply anti-rich propaganda, intended to throw suspicion upon the good brothers who have worked hard to obtain their wealth. How dare they make Dr. No or the other villains wealthy? All of them? Clearly, just as our brother has pointed out, it is simple prejudice and jealousy! (More cheers.) I thank Brother Arnold for his insider’s view and especially for his work in banning these films, as well as any others which portray the wealthy according to stereotypes, instead of the truly honorable men we are. Let the media put the specter of suspicion where it belongs—on the government and the poor! (More cheers.) Let us bring back more wholesome programming, such as Schindler’s List and The Millionaire! (More cheers.)
As serious as the prejudice found in movies is, there is yet another, more insidious cultural influence that we must be concerned about. Movies and magazines, television and newspapers, and, of course, the internet—all have their various forms of prejudice and oppression against the rich and all need to be influenced, such as our Brother Rupert, Brother Ted and Brother Bill have done. But there is another, greater influence that has been all but overlooked. There is a medium that has been influential, not just for decades, a century or a century and a half, but for millennia! It has been used by the enemies of the rich, oppressing us and destroying us since time immemorial! It is the cause of many of the wars against the rich—The Lombard uprising of the 1400s in England, the Thirty Years War in Germany in the 1500s, and it is still used as a primary inspiration of the Marxists in Latin America today! And while you may think that these events are too out of touch with our current structure, I need to inform you that this medium—this dangerous piece of literature—is in the majority of homes in the United States. Right now. And many of you have read this book, yea, even quoted this book. By now, you have probably guessed what I am speaking about, but you dare not say its name, nor even think it. Yes, that’s right, I am speaking of the Bible—the New Testament in particular.
Perhaps some of you are ready to stand up and speak against me now, because I am speaking ill of a book that you hold so dear. Perhaps some are ready to walk out on me, because much of your wealth—the very reason you are here—has come in part because of your talent in speaking on this particular book. I do not begrudge your use of it, Brothers—especially our dear Brother Robert and Brother Benny. I appreciate your skill and tact in opening this book and carefully directing the thoughts of those who read it. You religious leaders have been essential to our cause, and our most important supporters! You have succeeded to make wealth popular and important among your people with greater success than any of us have! We thank you for your work! (Scattered clapping throughout the hall.) But we must also recognize how dangerous this book is.
The Bible is a complex and multi-faceted piece of literature. It is sixty-six different books, written by a variety of authors over at least a thousand years. Their perspectives vary, as do the issues they discuss. With this, there is much for anyone to expound upon with safety. There are examples of wealthy people who are heroes in this collection of scrolls—Abraham, Jacob, Boaz, Job, Solomon and Esther. However, even these are marginal victories. Abraham and Job are seen as righteous, not because of their wealth, but because of their generosity, faith and sacrifice. Boaz is righteous for assisting a poor, illegal immigrant. Solomon is famous for his wisdom, but ultimately rejected for his disobedience of God’s law and idolatry. Esther is of an oppressed racial minority, which is the real focus of her story. And Jacob is displayed as obtaining his wealth through deceit and the power of God, and suffering greatly in his later life because of his trickery early in his life.
In the Old Testament, where all of these stories take place, there are dangerous themes that crop up now and again. We have a sympathetic woman, gaining a child after praying for so many years, saying, “The weapons of the powerful are cast down and the weak take up strength.” One of the many psalmists say, “Better is the little of the righteous than the wealth of the wicked.” In the book of Proverbs it says, “Give me neither poverty nor wealth, lest I become arrogant and say, ‘Who is God?’” Another psalmist says, “These are the wicked who have increased in wealth.”
In the prophets of the Old Testament, the danger to us increases. Ezekiel says that the sins of Sodom is that the city was wealthy and arrogant, refusing to help the poor and needy. Jeremiah says that the wealthy in his day became so because of deceit. Micah claims that the rich of his day were “full of violence”. Of course, this is blatant prejudice, painting all the wealthy with the same stroke.
Nevertheless, the Old Testament is not problematic overall. None of these passages must be thought of as speaking of the rich in general. While there seems to be a theme—especially that of obtaining wealth through violence and deceit—it is not consistent, and we can avoid such pitfalls by our Bible-brokers speaking of these cases as being rare, while most wealthy are good and right before God.
The real problem comes in the New Testament. This is a revolutionary text, and I do not mean that positively. It is speaking from the perspective of the disorderly elements of society, those that disrupt the proper flow of economics and authority. As many of us well know, it is within this tome of subversive writers that we have a few passages that support the lower classes being in submission to the upper classes—and this is as it should be. However, it is always spoken of in the context of the upper classes oppressing and harming the lower classes. The New Testament has nothing good to say about us, brothers.
Let us take, for example, a brief letter to various churches, written by the brother or cousin of Jesus, James-- or perhaps by his students. James was an important figure in the early church and his word was considered law by many groups of this fledgling— but revolutionary— religious movement. He had much to say about us, my brothers—and none of it was good. Listen to this: “The poor brother should be glad for his high position, and the wealthy should be glad for his lowly position, for even as a flower in bloom will soon fade and become ugly, so will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuit of wealth.” Again, listen to this: “God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith… but it is the wealthy that drag you into court and oppress you.” (A few gasps in the midst of a shocked silence.) But this is not all. This so-called “just” James dares to make yet another, more horrible, even more prejudicial remark. This is difficult for me to read, and it is extremely shocking, so please be prepared for it: “Weep and howl, you rich, for your miseries are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are destroyed. Your gold and silver have rusted, and its rust is a witness against you in God’s judgment. The laborers you have hired are crying out against you for you have withheld their wages and it will be heard by the Lord of the harvest. You have lived… luxuriously on earth…” I’m sorry, I’m trying… “and you have… fattened yourself for the day of slaughter.” (Stunned silence fills the hall.)
I hope you are outraged as much as I am. This is blatant hate speech. It is more forthrightly prejudiced against us than almost anything I have ever heard or read, except perhaps that despicable song by Aerosmith. And if it was only in the letter of James—which our Brother Martin Luther called a “right straw epistle”—then perhaps it could be bearable. The book is small, it could be avoided.
But who can avoid Jesus? Yet Jesus says, “Woe to you who are rich for you have already received your comfort! Woe to you who are well fed, for you shall go hungry! Woe to you who are entertained now, for you shall weep!” It is Jesus who says, “No one can serve two masters, either he will love the one and hate the other. No one can serve both God and wealth.” It is Jesus who says, “Sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven.” It is Jesus who says, “None of you can be my disciple unless you renounce all of your possessions.” It is Jesus who says, “You say ‘I am wealthy, I have need of nothing,’ but you do not see that you are poor and blind and wretched and miserable and naked.”
Clear lies, all of them! Our God could not despise us, who has blessed us so?
Do you not see? The real enemy of our cause in this so-called Holy Writ is not James, but Jesus himself. It is Jesus that enacted the change that turned the Bible from a humble critic of the excess of the unrighteous rich to an attack on all of us! These terrible, poor-loving, deceptive words, in blatant opposition to the equality of rich men everywhere were spoken by the founder of the Jesus movement himself! I know that many of you scholars might be saying, “Well, Jesus may not have said that,” or, “there are certainly other interpretations.” Of course there are. Of course there are doubts. But the clear reading of the text is impossible to deny when brought all together.
Allow me to repeat a couple main points. This book is dangerous. It works directly against our cause, and influences the simple minded to be prejudiced against the wealthy. Secondly, this book is in the majority of American homes! There are people who read from this book daily! Worst of all, there are many who actually believe this book to be God’s own Word and so might very well believe what it says.
Now, we know, Brothers, that God supports us and our cause—let there be no question about that. God has granted us our wealth and so wants us to rule the world and influence the people with it. And so God has given us a commission—we must subvert the clear meaning of this book. It is a book filled with despicable lies that will tear down the fabric of our very society. And so we must continue the work accomplished so boldly by our forefather Thomas Jefferson. We must discourage the reading of this book as much as possible. If the masses are to read anything, let them read the relatively safe Old Testament.
Even better, we must follow in the ways of our Muslim brothers and claim through our media that both New and Old Testaments have been superseded by greater, better, teaching. The best, most popular teaching are the new ethics based upon scientific principles. This allows us to support an ethics that are based on positive, capitalistic principles. In this way, the hate speech may be muted, and we will regain our former glory and honor that we deserve to have.
I see my time is up. Thank you for your rapt attention, brothers. (Wild applause breaks out.)