Christian-Marxist Dialogue: A Not So Ridiculous or Antiquated Notion

[PLEASE NOTE: Nine days after I originally did this post, Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, the first of his Pontificate and one heavily focused on economic justice and dialogue, the very subjects of this post. After you read this post, please consider reading my subsequent, and much more lengthy and detailed, post dated December 13, 2013, entitled “A Socialized Reflection on the Praxis Implications of EVANGELII GAUDIUM, Jesuit History, and Jesuit Scholarship.” The two posts, and their links, will provide interested persons with a detailed socialist perspective on the Pope’s exhortation and its possible aftermath.]

I am a Christian contemplative of the most tolerant sort, in the Thomas Merton tradition, with a healthy admiration for the late Jesuit guru on social justice, Jean-Yves Calvez (whom I discuss in this post), while also remaining pro-choice, because that is what I feel is right. I also am a committed democratic socialist who appreciates many of Karl Marx’s writings, to the extent I have read and understood them. But I do not consider myself a Marxist–or any other “ist”–than a garden variety democratic socialist. While I am inspired by and fortunate to keep learning a lot from Marx, I do not place a lot of emphasis on becoming an expert in his oeuvre, for various reasons I explain in detail in Pamphlet No. 1: A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores, not least of which is my perceived need to concentrate on building a compassionate socialism for today that actually works well and is democratic. (In that pamphlet I also discuss my idiosyncratic religious journey in even greater detail, along with a bunch of other stuff, including soil science!)

I had to kill some time a few days ago while on breaks from my appointed tasks. I was not where I had a good internet connection, so I decided to download meaty materials that I could read on my smartphone as time permitted. For some reason, I decided to read up on a subject I had always kind of chuckled about–“Christian-Marxist Dialogue.” As luck would have it, I found two excellent pieces that have made me reassess my cynicism.

From the Marxist vantage point, I loved this piece by Professor Richard D. Wolff (whom I have now added to my blogroll): Capitalism, Economy, and Religion: A Christian-Marxist Dialogue. He sensitively recognizes the natural affinity that should exist between these two monumentally important world humanitarian forces of Christianity and Marxism, while also providing a short introduction to his views as a Marxian economist of Marxism’s continuing relevance. Great piece.

Equally great, from the Christian point of view, was the piece I discovered by a deceased Bishop of the Chaldean Syrian Church in Kerala, India, Princeton Ph.D. intellectual heavyweight Paulose Mar Paulose: Chapter 12: A Call For Dialogue (which is the final chapter of an interesting-looking book, all of which is available for free on-line). Bishop Paulose was an expert on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so in addition to learning from an erudite lecturer on Marx one can learn about one of the most important modern era Christian theologians, who also happened to have given his life fighting Hitler. Bishop Paulose was highly regarded in India as a great humanist and seems to have been an amazing selfless species-being.

Just thought I’d spread the good news about finding these really smart digital mentors to help me, and potentially you, consider a notion that is really not so ridiculous or antiquated after all.


Brother Francisco

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