Fiddling While America – and Rome – Burn?
The famous political philosopher Leo Strauss is reported to have once said that modern political theorists are worse than the ancient Roman emperor Nero. Because contrary to the old saying, they know neither that they are fiddling nor that Rome is burning.
The U.S. bishops held their annual June meeting in Fort Lauderdale a few weeks ago and, to judge from reports, largely spent their time together discussing current politics and changes to a voters’ guide for the Fall midterm elections.
In Rome, just last week, Fr. Antonio Spadaro S.J., editor of the semi-official Vatican publication La Civiltà Cattolica, along with Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian chosen by Pope Francis personally to be editor of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano, released another long essay attacking an American religious phenomenon: “The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different.”
Unlike their previous effort, which argued that collaboration between conservative evangelicals and Catholics was an “ecumenism of hate,” this article drew little attention. Which is no surprise.
Though peddlers of the prosperity gospel have connections to President Trump – who seems to be the real target of the essay – few familiar with religion in the United States would regard that slice of our varied faith groups as particularly prominent. In fact, among most religious people, both Left and Right, it’s regarded as a kind of eccentric Christian sect.