The Blessed and the Unblessed

Becky, over at Preemptive Karma, makes an interesting observation about Ken Lay’s courthouse steps declaration that "God has blessed me and my family enormously."

Funny how many crooks invoke God when their honesty is being questioned. And funny how they seem to overlook the obvious conclusion that the God who is "blessing" them somehow forgot to bless their victims.

Yeah, it is funny. But I think it’s also pretty easy to explain. To do so I’ll have to dig back into some of m posts from the Katrina debacle. The mindset behind Ken Lay’s statement is pretty much the same mindset that made it possible to justify the lack of response to Katrina.


These folks equate wealth and well-being (basically being middle class and up) with virtue. Quite simply, if you have the right values, you will have enough wealth to provide for your well-being, and that of your family; perhaps more. If you don’t, then you won’t. It’s really that simple.

You simply start out taking strength — economic strength in Lay’s case, but it could also apply to physical or military strength if you’re talking about nations — as a sign of moral virtue and thus of "god’s" approval. From there it’s a short walk to seeing the lack of strength — again, economic in this case, but could also be physical or military strength — as a sign of moral failure and of "god’s" disfavor. And since morality is a choice, you can disregard those whose moral weakness leads to material weakness (or poverty) and thus to disaster.

It’s not just the physically or economically strong that survive (indeed that should survive, according to this POV), but the morally strong as well, because economic strength (manifested as material well-being, and the ability to move out of harms way) implies moral strength. Thus, poverty implies moral weakness.

And there is no obligation on the part of the morally strong to save the morally weak, because moral weakness is always a choice. The poor, then, have it coming.

Lay, then, is simply repeating the same thing that Norman Vincent Peale preached to his congregation in the 50s: that they (in this case Lay and his family) were made rich by "god" because they deserved it, and that the "godly" will reap earthly rewards because "god" is on the side of the strong. In other words, he who has the gold has "god’s" favor."

And if "god" is on the side of the strong, then it stands to reason that he is not on the side of the weak, precisely because their weakness is indicative of their moral failings which caused "god" to remove his blessing from them.

So the folks who lost everything in the Enron scandal are not Lay’s victims, if you accept this point of view. They’re not even "god’s" victims. They are their own, because of their own moral failings as indicated by their economic (in this case) weakness. Thus, they are not worthy of mention by one so blessed as Lay

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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3 Responses to The Blessed and the Unblessed

  1. Nyeelah says:

    It is all to unfortunate that people tend to equate favor from God with econmic success. There are many peachers, pasters, reverands, bishops or whatever they call themselves these days that that do what is called prosperity peaching. If you are rich then God loves you and you are a good person. If you are poor then God didn’t make you and don’t want you. I would be interested to here what these people feel about Ghandi or Mother Theresa or other people of strong faith that had no financial wealth. Yes I do believe that Allah can give a blessing to your family. He gives us children, wisedom and yes at times the financial means to take care of our families. What Lay and many other crooks want is sympathy. They have been taught that if they say GOD or Jesus then it shields them from thier wrong doings.

  2. H.A. Page says:

    Amen, pass the spin. Wonder what the first wives would say over a few glasses of whine? That might be heaven-sent revelationary.
    Cheers.

  3. Terrance says:

    Actually, I went on much longer than necessary in this post, when I could have summed up their view in one phrase: might equals right. It follows then that those with superior might — economic or otherwise — are always right and thus have the right to impose their will on the weak; that is, those who lack equal might in numbers, dollars, forces, etc.

    Now, if you wanted to apply that to foreign policy for the last century or so…

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