I remember some time ago, Stuart Varney, the Fox News business guy, noting how he had to fight adversity. According to him, it is hard to become on-air talent with a British accent on American television. That’s like saying it is hard to become a world class sprinter because you run so fast. But Varney is an idiot—a very common idiot. I run into his type all the time. He understands economics entirely from a Chicago School standpoint. In his mind, economics is very simple. If you raise the minimum wage, there will be mass layoffs. If you increase the corporate tax rate, prices will go up. It’s very much like the logic of someone with a little physics education thinking that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will crush someone’s head. It’s strange that anyone could think that prices are set based upon how much something costs to make rather than how much people are willing to pay for it. But that’s what you get when all your knowledge comes out textbooks and an ideological desire to believe.
Most recently, Varney had some very harsh words for Pope Francis. He doesn’t like the fact that the Pope is discussing economic issues. Varney said, “I go to church to save my soul. It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.” Oh my God! Say it ain’t so!
Note that Varney never had anything to say about the far more political questions of marriage laws and family planning. While the last two popes went all around the world making the AIDS epidemic worse because nothing was so important to God than that people not us condoms, Varney thought nothing of it. That wasn’t political! It didn’t bother Varney, I suspect, because it didn’t affect Varney. Varney isn’t gay. Varney doesn’t have to listen to the Pope anyway, given that he is an Episcopalian. What’s more, Jesus didn’t say a single fucking thing about homosexuality and birth control. But when the popes who Varney liked focused on these very political issues that are at best on the periphery of Christianity, it was just fine.
But Stuart Varney has a net worth of about $10 million. So when the Pope starts talking about income inequality, well, them’s fightin’ words! Varney wants his soul saved—but on the cheap. The very cheap: the free. The truth is that our modern idea of the soul is very different than it used to be. Now we think of it as some kernel that’s inside us. The Greeks, for instance, thought of the soul as the essence of who we are “that which decides how we behave.” But Varney wants to divorce that from his soul. Like most thoughtless modern Christians, all he thinks he has to do is “believe” in Jesus and his soul is in perfect order. It’s like The Great Pumpkin, but less believable.
What Varney really wants is the good old corrupt Church. The Church that never does anything to offend those who have money or power. And that’s fine. It is clear that Varney’s true God is money. But it is offensive for him to claim to be a Christian. It is even more offensive for him to think that he has any right to lecture the Pope about what his job description is.