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Ben Swick
Professor Rebecca Morean
English 100.20
27 February 2015
Swallowed in Selfishness
America ranks number one on the list for countries with the most sexual assaults.
We also are at the top of the list for the most obese countries in the world. The United
States is the seventh ranked nation for the wealthiest people and tenth for most divorces.
These are the categories that we should strive to be off of the list. In the rankings that do
matter, we do not even break the top ten. America is the fourteenth best-educated nation
in the world. Does this sound like a primarily Christian country to you? Not necessarily,
but statistics show that we are. Americas population is eighty three percent Christian.
These numbers do not add up because we do not seem to be acting in a Christian manner.
Bill McKibben, a scholar at Middlebury College, argues, America is simultaneously the
most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its
behavior. The Catholic Intellectual Tradition proves that McKibben is correct and many
saints and theologians have writings that also show the validity of his statements.
Bill McKibben is the author of many books including The End of Nature and
Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across Americas Most Hopeful Landscape. He has
also written articles for Harpers Magazine. One of his most famous articles from this
magazine is titled The Christian Paradox. In this article, he states how many Christians
in America are only Christians by name. He produces statistics such as the ones
mentioned above that support this evidence to strengthen his argument.

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In this piece by McKibben, he states Jesus speaks out against divorce in His
teachings and despite this, over half of Americans are divorced. We can see this is a
problem for our country as over half of the households will go through a divorce. One of
the most common reasons for divorces is a lack of purity between the husband and wife.
St. Augustine teaches about purity and the need for people to live a chaste life. He says,
Do not say that you have a chaste mind if your eyes are unchaste, because an unchaste
eye betrays an unchaste heart (Augustine). This temptation that many seem to struggle
with can lead to divorce. This is a Christian teaching, and if Americans call themselves
Christian, why are they struggling so much with this? God shows us the need to love our
husbands and wives. Many people seem to break this bond.
When speaking about wealth and money, McKibben says, Jesus did not say [w]e
should invest, spend, and let the benefits trickle down. If Jesus did not say this, then why
is this the main goal of every single American who claims to be Christian? Why do so
many people care so much about obtaining material goods? Pope Francis says, [We are
called] to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly
refused to others. This is a teaching of the church, yet so many people have difficulty
understanding Jesuss meaning of helping others in need.
The United States does not have a good record in regard to assisting poor nations.
The mentality here is to save up money when you are young in order to be rich when you
are older to live a comfortable life. That is todays American dream. So many
Americans tend to forget about the poor and starving in other nations. Mother Teresa
speaks on behalf of the teachings of the Catholic Church when she says, Like Jesus we
belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our

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strength. She is saying that we need to think not only of ourselves, but remember those
in need. In America, we seem to be selfish by thinking only of ourselves and not of the
needs of those around us. In her life, Mother Teresa showed us what that selfless love
looked like by giving the poor so much of her time. Are we not hypocritical when we say
we are Christian but then forget about the needs of others?
Education opens the door to many things in life. Many people believe that it has
nothing to do with religion. The great theologian Thomas Aquinas says this about
education in his educational theory: Knowledge and skills worthwhile learning include
the study of logic, which teaches the methods of the sciences, mathematics, natural
philosophy, moral philosophy, and divine science (44). The church teaches that
education is a very important part to our religion because without it, we are nothing. We
are incapable of helping others if we do not have education. Americas education is
ranked fourteenth in the world. This is not terrible, but it can definitely improve. As
Americans, we can strive to obtain as much knowledge as possible in our years in school.
Education can help us fix many problems not only in this country, but in the world.
If the majority of the country is Christian, then why do the statistics show that we
are not? It is very hypocritical of us to claim to be something that we are not. Imagine
what our country would be like if we all followed strictly the guidelines for living a good
Christian life. So many of these problems would be resolved. There would be less hunger
in the world because many of us would give of our time and money to the poor. The
crime rate would drop tremendously because we are called to love one another. Sexual
assault would almost be non-existent and murder would almost be eliminated. The
divorce rate would decrease which might lead to stronger families with better values. All

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of these things would better glorify God, which is what the Christian way of living is all
about. Bill McKibben nailed it when he said Americans do not behave as Christians. He
was right because we truly do not. Many of us might be trying, but most of us are
selfishly living our lives. If we live as Christians, the world would be a better place.

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Works Cited
"Educational Theory of Thomas Aquinas." Educational Theory of Thomas Aquinas. N.p., n.d.
Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
Langer, Analysisby Gary. "Poll: Most Americans Say They're Christian." ABC News. ABC News
Network, 18 July 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
"Pope Francis to World: Redistribute The Wealth." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
"Quotes About Poverty From Pope Francis - Catholics Confront Global Poverty." Catholics
Confront Global Poverty. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo." CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA:. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb.
2015.
"Top 10 Countries With Highest Rape Crime." WondersList. N.p., 02 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 Feb.
2015.
"Top 10 Countries with the Richest People in the World." PFhub Business Financial Economic
News. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Words By Mother Teresa. Words By Mother Teresa. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015
"World's 10 Most Divorced Nations." TheRichest. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.