Thursday, June 11, 2009

Total Depravity

I've been reading the book Wild Swans which tells the epic story of three generations of Chinese women - and through their encounters exposes the cult of Mao and the realities of life in 20th century China.
It's a fascinating read - having read many books on the soviet realities of communism it's safe to assume from what I've read that communism is a failed social experiment. Of course unbridled capitalism hasn't worked out so well either. Pope John Paul II suggested that the greatest threat to the next generation was excessive capitalism (this from the man who Gorbechev suggested was the reason for the wall of communism collapsing in Eastern Europe) and the death of children not yet born.

I've been thinking about the ideals of communism - which I believe are some shared ideals with Christianity (and to be sure some real similarities to the structure of The Salvation Army) - a common purse, a flattened hierarchy, a widening of family, an ideology larger than ourselves... the greater good etc... so, if all of these values are good why has communism failed so miserably? Perhaps at the heart of these failed ideologies are some misunderstandings about the human race.

In communism (from the top down) it seems there was a gross misunderstanding of the nature of humanity. Communism makes the leap that humans are good - and can make decisions that sacrifice their own well being for a cause greater than themselves (the state). Surely there were many who did and have. but what communism forgot (as many ideologies do) is that humans are at the heart of us completely depraved... we are inclined towards selfishness and greed. If it's not money that we strive for, it is power - if it's not power, then it's control and the cycle continues... in communist China as in Russia as in many other places around the world - the individual still seeks power, money and control... it's the depravity in us.

An ideology that doesn't deal with the internal dilemna of sin is a failed one. Simple? yes. and obviously no time for a more complete checklist of why communism failed (surely tyrants of power and cult of personality is a good one... more later?). But suffice to say - sin is a good reason. it's also a great reason why capitalism is killing us..... but more on that later.


Honza said...

I was really impressed by the father in the story. He appeared to be a man of integrity who truly believed in the ideals of the communist system and was frustrated by the abuses of it by those around him. It is a great pity that he found Mao instead of Jesus...

Bernard said...

Hi Danielle,

Thanks for the thoughts.

Along with Communism's gross misunderstanding of human nature, I would add its strident disregard for God as another reason for its failure.

Jesus said that the two great commandments were to love God, and to love our fellow human beings. If we do not truly love God as revealed by Jesus, we are unable to love others.

I look forward to reading your further posts.

Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

Bur what about 'created in the image of God'... te stamp of God on our lives. Marred by sin but intrinsicly valued as created by Hima nd for Him?
I always took total depravity to mean that sin effected every part of our lives... but still essentially valuable and good cause Fod created us.