[Marxism] RE: Interview with Paul Buhle

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Mar 9 16:06:43 MST 2004

Let's be very clear about the kind of Christian radicalism, Paul's
discussing in this interview... 

Historically, American churches and congregations that embraced the
fellowship of slaveholders faced an anti-institutional revolt of the
"come-outers" who rejected that fellowship and established their own
free congregations or rejected clerical authority on any level.  The
abolitionist movement would have never happened without it.  By the
1850s, many of these gravitated towards spiritualism (ie., spirit
mediums and séances) as a mass movement.  After the Civil War, these
groups and persons continued to pursue what became known as "the social
gospel."  Some dissenting ministers (and even a handful of heroic
priests) stayed in organized denominations and faced the wrath of the
hierarchy for taking up the "social gospel". 

All in all, an admirable and gutsy lot.  When I found myself in a combat
zone in Nicaragua with a bunch of Euro-Communists on one side and
radical Catholics on the other, I felt a much greater kinship with--and
trust in--the latter than the former.  

Still, the emphasis on bearing an individual moral witness sometimes
conflicts with a political strategy aimed at a mass social impact.  This
sometimes diverges sharply from Marxism.  Crudely put, while I want to
make a point with the masses, they are making their point with the Holy
Ghost.  I can respect and defend their views, but I'm interested in a
different set of questions and addressing a different set of problems.

Certainly, the reason there has not been a convergence between Marxism
and Christianity isn't simply the fault of Marxists, a numerically
rather minor current by comparison.

Mark L.

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