I am no fan of Stanley Fish — I thought he was a blinkered lackwit before, but now, with his latest appalling column in they NY Times, I see that he is a gospel-thumping charlatan on a par with Pat Robertson. He looks at our faltering economy like we all do, with great concern, and then, unlike the kinds of rational people we need making decisions, claims that the answer lies in the Christian Bible. Seriously, read that article and you’ll see nothing that wouldn’t have come out of a cheap Bible college stocked with pseudo-scholarly theologians. It’s so stupid it hurt to read it.
The Bible, they tell us, contains 2,350 verses “that have to do with money and possessions.” If we attend to the lessons of these verses and learn how properly to husband the resources God has given us, we will be doing his work, for “God desires a life for us that is free of debt , and the entrapments and common pitfalls related to financial difficulties” (Cross). “The way out of debt,” Dayton teaches, “is not a declaration of bankruptcy, but surrender to the word of God.”
You know, people are concerned with money and possessions; it’s a very human state of mind. What this means is that lots of books will reference those subjects: you could count the sentences that deal with money and possessions in Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, The Fountainhead, and Das Kapital and find thousands. The number of mentions of money and houses and carriages and ships and businesses does not make them legitimate authorities on economics, and doesn’t mean they can’t be utterly wrong (and of the last two, at least one must be wrong as a simple logical necessity).
Now I’ve read the Bible myself, and it really doesn’t seem to be big on economics. Most of its proscriptions are rather anti-wealth, for one thing, and there’s a fairly broad emphasis on the moral compromises of crass materialism — poverty, or rather, distancing yourself from greed and the accumulation of earthly wealth, are regarded as virtues. There really isn’t that much about bankruptcy anywhere in it, and this author, Kevin Cross, who pretends to be speaking for a god, seems to be making stuff up. I’m sorry, but God is not going to descend with a collection of legal writs to protect you from creditors, nor is he going to give you a low-interest loan to help you get over short-term cash flow problems. Surrendering to a god is a way of running away from real-world problems without fixing them. It is definitely not a solution for a nation.
Stanley Fish, of course, gobbles this nonsense right up and suggests that this is how we can fix our economy.
This economy, in which funds depleted are endlessly replenished, is underwritten by a power so great and beneficent that it turns failures into treasures. Some economists identify that power as the market and ask us to have faith in it. God might be a better candidate.
How a god is going to help the economy is something bleating theologians always fail to tell us. Similarly, there’s no explanation for how this imaginary supreme being is propping up our economy. Magic? Conjuring gold? Selling timeshares and commemorative coins?
Maybe this god’s assistance can be encapsulated in a sentence: God help us if morons like Stanley Fish were to have a say in maintaining the American economy.