The Price of Dominionist Theology
January 13, 2020 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Those who have been around modern American Protestant culture have likely seen ads for Financial Peace workshops, built on the "financial ministry" of Christian finance guru Dave Ramsey. In a longform piece by Eve Ettinger, she discusses the toxic and bigoted background of the financial education Ramsey sells, as well as the price paid for it by people like herself. (SLLongreads)
posted by NoxAeternum (64 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel like I hear rumblings about Dave Ramsey's fundamentalism whenever his money writings come up, but this is the first time I've seen his beliefs and background laid out clearly. Yuck.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:02 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Oh no! I’m so sad to hear about this. My first and last contact with Ramsey’s advice was in the mid 90’s, when I saw “this is a money game car” bumper stickers around Middle TN, and curious, I read up on his advice regarding car payments and ownership.

It’s no exaggeration that reading Ramsey’s take on car ownership - that it only costs you money, the car will never pay you back, etc. was fundamental in my ability to complete university and survive as a very poor person for most of my 20’s. I even managed to live in Atlanta without a car for a few years until I married into one, and we’ve remained a one-car household for nearly 15 years due to the Ramsey take on car ownership I read all those years ago.

It breaks my heart to hear he turned (or exposed himself as) a dominionist. I never dipped deep into his well, but found much of what he said back then on mobile homes, payday loans, check cashing places and more to be very important to many of the working poor. I think the first time I ever heard the term “financial abuse” as it relates to domestic abuse was from him as well.
posted by EinAtlanta at 8:05 AM on January 13 [27 favorites]


I feel like this article tries to make a lot of connections, and some of them make sense, and some of them don't - and there's another, more interesting article hiding underneath this article. Like the author is trying to make the leap from "some of these people have weird and bizarrely unhealthy ideas that are tied in with other beliefs about what kind of debt is moral and what kind of debt isn't" to "debt is perfectly fine and good and not a problem and anyone who doesn't want to put ballet school on a credit card is somehow doing bad". Kind of like EinAtlanta alludes to, there's a lot of perfectly reasonable advice in the Ramsay stuff, and that advice is not why the author was miserable.

The more interesting article would dig into the ties between the religious, especially evangelical right, with the moralizing around capitalism that comes from the political right - the author identifies that talking about the state of subjugation that debt puts you into in today's society sounds very left-wing, but doesn't make the leap that these weird contortions (debt on your name is worse than debt on property) are what comes from trying to reconcile two essentially contradictory belief structures that are tied together through a series of odd political accidents. And if you want to look at the ties between anti-semitism and left-wing economic beliefs about debt and control, the article would be better served drawing the lines between Father Coughlin to those ideologies and the rejection of banks and their government ties, etc.
posted by corb at 8:12 AM on January 13 [36 favorites]


"It breaks my heart to hear he turned (or exposed himself as) a dominionist." - EinAtlanta

I may have missed it, but I don't think the author was ever quite able to make it to this point. She just suggested that maybe he was?

Perhaps I'm reading this part near the end wrong: "While none of this answered my questions about Dave Ramsey’s personal beliefs about Jews, race, or the end times, it confirmed at the very least an affinity among his adherents for the same sort of theological bigotry that I was raised with, and was present in the Poway shooter’s manifesto."
posted by Grither at 8:12 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]


As far as I can tell, this essay boils down to “my parents’ application of Dave Ramsey’s teachings caused me lots of problems, so I’d like to smear him with accusations of dominionism and anti-Semitism with no evidence other than he’s popular among conservative Christians.”

FWIW I think Ramsey is willfully blind to systemic economic forces that hold people down and far too confident that financial discipline can lift everyone out of poverty. He is fully taken by the common conservative fallacy that individual action can solve societal problems. On the other hand, he’s not wrong that debt is a trap, that living within your means is best, that Americans on average are deeply consumerist, and we need to learn to say no to some wants and save more. Both things are true: his advice is good if you are able to take it, but it’s not sufficient in the face of larger cultural forces.

He’s in the bag for the GOP, yes, and he’s theologically conservative. But the way Ettinger blames him for her parents’ choices and tries to insinuate that he’s in league with synagogue shooters is more than a little unseemly. If she has evidence, she should present it. This blend of smears and insinuations isn’t worthy of publication.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:30 AM on January 13 [53 favorites]


The moralizing around debt and equating being indebted to being enslaved, which leaves the slave being at fault for their enslavement.... if you only had made better choices, you wouldn't be a slave!

I am agog.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:35 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]


Grither - when a person’s teachings or art are adopted by a destructive group as doctrine or symbolic, it’s on the creator to denounce associations built around them. See: Taylor Swift and white nationalists.

The article told me that Ramsey’s books and teachings have now been widely embraced and distributed among some very destructive groups like Quiverful. When you find out Quiverful adherents are promoting your work, it’s on you to publicly say “I think these people are nuts”.

Until I find out that Ramsey has denounced Prosperity Gospel, I’m going to take this writer/survivor’s word that Ramsey, at the very least, has failed to condemn the association of his works with some very unpleasant people.

This makes me sad, as the positive impact on my own life has been substatial.
posted by EinAtlanta at 8:37 AM on January 13 [12 favorites]


What Pater A said above. He is certainly popular with Evangelicals, but you'll find FPU classes going on in the basements of United Methodist Churches and UU congregations as well.
posted by jquinby at 8:38 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


I found this essay fascinating, and I will totally read her memoir (because quiverfull and personal finance and escaping cults are super interesting to me), but I agree that she doesn’t really connect the dots. But I totally empathize with that experience of realizing that the system in which you grew up was fucked up, and the spiraling possible reasons you find when you start looking at it from a different perspective. I mean, my extremely frugal, not very religious parents loved their Discover credit card back in the day because they got CASH BACK (and boy, did they talk about that and bemoan places that did not accept Discover cards), but I never got to take ballet lessons because they didn’t want to spend the money or drive me around. Last year a family health crisis helped me realize just how fucked up my parents are, and when I look back at pretty normal things like the lack of dance classes it leads me down a never-ending thought pattern of “was experience X repeating the same pattern?” or “did my asshole grandpa really start this cycle?” or “were my great-grandparents the real assholes?” or “is this all just the patriarchy and religion and capitalism fucking us over? When can we just burn it all down?” (I vote that we burn down patriarchy first) The author’s got a lot of fascinating rabbit holes to go down, so I’m going to seek out her other written work and see how it connects to my own “don’t let anyone screw you out of money” childhood.

I also think the other FPP yesterday about the scarcity mindset has a lot of relevance to this article.
posted by Maarika at 8:45 AM on January 13 [15 favorites]


Jquinby - I think that, like me, a lot of those well-meaning (and honestly valuable) classes probably pull from his earlier work. I don’t remember anything about “slavery” or even Ramsey being totally anti-debt in the 90’s. It seems he’s become quite a lot more political and conservative over time.

I remember his radio show being very focused on problem solving and practical advice that, at the time, was much more difficult to find! But that was more than 20 years ago, and wow, now that I’m reading up on his new stuff, he looks like he’s quite gone off the deep end of blame-the-poor-for-their-lot. He used to be an advocate, now he seems quite hard-hearted.
posted by EinAtlanta at 8:48 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


This is a little tangential, but i have a quesiton about this, for anyone who is familiar with fundamentalist theology (Formal or folk):

2) Debt that does not have physical collateral that a lender can repossess or collect on is debt on your name, which is essentially selling your mortal soul;

I feel like i've seen this a few times now: "mortal soul." What?

I thought (in Catholic theology, though I'm sure someone with more catholic theology knowledge would think I could the subtleties wrong) only animals/plants/bacteria etc. have mortal souls. Human souls are immortal and that's what sets them apart, no? In this case the phrase comes from someone intimately familiar with fundamentalism, so now i'm wondering if it's a mistake or a thing I don't understand. Do fundamentalists believe that humans have mortal and immortal souls? (two souls, or one soul with two segments?) So obviously in Christian theology you have an immortal soul. But it's only your mortal soul being sold by debt, presumably because the slavery ends at the time of death?

Someone please fill fix my confusion.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:50 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Ramsey helped me make a decision not to lease my car back when so I am grateful for that.

That said, I remember how he encouraged his listeners to answer "How are you?" with "Better than I deserve" as did he himself, while wearing this smug expression on his face. Which creeped me right out even as I kept a copy of Total Money Makeover on my shelf.

Clicking on the article, I expected to hear a bit more about why the author blames Ramsey for her experience. Some of the examples are a bit less convincing to me, like blaming her parents for refusing to spend next week's paychecks.
posted by M. at 8:57 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


What if my parents’ and Ramsey’s hatred of debt had more to do with anti-Semitisim than I had previously understood? What if this ancient prejudicial trope was being reinvented in the theology behind these kind of personal finance teachings?


How on earth did I miss this for so long. Wow.
posted by tilde at 8:57 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]


Tithing: I was raised Catholic, and I vividly recall the basket getting passed around. In our family, it was clear that we were paying that money to support the church (keep the lights on, etc). There were guidelines from the Bible quoted for how much to tithe, but it seems to me that the priests would have been horrified at the idea that we were "tithing to God" for preferential treatment. Do I have that wrong about Catholics, or is the attitude in the article that tithes are buying God's love something new?
posted by BeeDo at 8:58 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


his advice is good if you are able to take it, but it’s not sufficient in the face of larger cultural forces

Well put, and true about a lot of other people in the advice/personal “improvement” industry as well.
posted by sallybrown at 8:58 AM on January 13 [12 favorites]


I even managed to live in Atlanta without a car for a few years

It's not so bad if you live near MARTA. When I did it I was living near the Edgewood/Candler Park station, and working in Buckhead. But lots of parts of the city are dangerous for pedestrians (thinking of the infamous case about 10 years ago when a woman was charged with homicide when her child was run over as she was trying to cross, iirc, Buford Highway) and poorly served by transit.
posted by thelonius at 8:58 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


I feel like i've seen this a few times now: "mortal soul." What?

As someone raised Catholic and very active in the church for several years: what indeed. No, Catholicism does not teach about people's mortal souls. I think that was either a typo or a misunderstanding.
posted by M. at 8:58 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Just a note for folks who may be confused that far and away most Presbyterians in the US are members of the large, progressive denomination the Presbyterian Church (USA), and that ALL of the Presbyterians she is talking about in this article are members of one of the dozens of schismatic breakaway groups, ranging from ones that broke away in the 1800s over slavery to ones that broke away in the mid-twentieth century over Civil Rights and women's rights to ones that broke away quite recently over treating LGBTQ people like human beings. The Presbyterian college she went to is completely different from a Presbyterian college like Davidson (alma mater of Steph Curry). etc.

Having grown up in the context that she did, it makes sense that she thinks all Presbyterians are like her people, but the vast majority of us are simply not.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:03 AM on January 13 [19 favorites]


I’ve only read so me of the fringe information around why Dominist is so sure they’re right; I’d missed the whole Reconstructionist stuff. This puts a lot of pieces together for me anthro-theologically.

Also, I know ads on that page are based on my history, but it’s hysterical to me that all of mine are for payday loan places (I’d done some client research without nuking my cookies).
posted by tilde at 9:05 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


BeeDo - a guideline I've heard at our parish (if you can do it) is 10 percent, split between the Church and other things in the community. We're obligated to support the church's work via our time/talent/treasure in some combination. This could be volunteering in various capacities, entering into the spiritual works of the parish through prayer, as well as giving money. This support is a precept of the Church to which we are obligated.
posted by jquinby at 9:06 AM on January 13


Do I have that wrong about Catholics, or is the attitude in the article that tithes are buying God's love something new?

No, Catholic here. Giving "time and treasure" to the church is in no way associated with the idea you'll get preferential treatment from God because of it and I find the idea super squicky. The closest I could see is that donations are corporal works of mercy, and that doing good works gets you more in alignment with what God wants of your life, but I think the "tithes=success" thing is a particular sect of Protestantism. In the Catholic faith, you should give, but you should give because we are obligated to assist the poor and our community, not because it will help you in some way.
posted by corb at 9:07 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]


He is certainly popular with Evangelicals, but you'll find FPU classes going on in the basements of United Methodist Churches and UU congregations as well.

Which is the problem. I've done the course (over a decade ago), and I could see the toxic mentality under the advice - the argument that debt is a moral obligation, the call for personal privation in the now for a nebulous gain in the future (remember, one of his catchphrases is "live like no one else so you can live like no one else"), etc. Ramsey pushes a view of finance that is misleading at best and outright toxic at worst, and leaves adherents with a distorted view of finance. And yes, of course he has some good advice - it's how he sells everything else.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:12 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


A ton of entirely unsupported calumnies and personal attacks (lucky for Ramsey he's not fat or short, just bald and inclined to cologne), and what appears to be an at-best limited actual knowledge of what Ramsey teaches.

I have mixed feelings about Ramsey. He misses a lot of subtleties about "good" debt, but the subtleties he misses are precisely the ones that are exploited against unsophisticated people. For the majority of his audience, he's right on.
posted by MattD at 9:13 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


As a long-term Catholic: what indeed. No, Catholicism does not teach about people's mortal souls. I think that was either a typo or a misunderstanding.

Yeah, I know Catholicism doesn't - that was my point, as someone raised Catholic, I'd never seen that before -- but I've seen it a number of times now, in protestant contexts, so I'd like to know what it's supposed to mean. The first time I saw it I thought it was a typo or just a person not actually familiar with christianity, but now it's coming from a raised-fundemantalist source, I'm wondering if it's a fundamentalist thing or a protestant thing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:14 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


I'm just glad the small, cheap, Christian-affiliated college I went to turned out to be swarming with cultural Marxists.
posted by clawsoon at 9:15 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]


Ok, thanks, glad my childhood assumption about tithes was correct. Buying preferment is not much different than selling indulgences, and if a church is going to do that Martin Luther is going to want his nail back.
posted by BeeDo at 9:16 AM on January 13 [6 favorites]


Why do I get the feeling that none of the people profiled in the article are good tippers?
posted by clawsoon at 9:18 AM on January 13 [11 favorites]


Plus interest.
posted by BeeDo at 9:19 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


The more interesting article would dig into the ties between the religious, especially evangelical right, with the moralizing around capitalism that comes from the political right

If you haven't seen it, you might find interesting this article on Christian health care sharing ministries:

It Looks Like Health Insurance, but It’s Not. ‘Just Trust God,’ Buyers Are Told.

Over one million Americans are part of these groups that purport to offer a Christian alternative to insurance but are not classified as insurance, and are therefore not covered by any insurance regulations or coverage requirements, and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. These groups are starting to be investigated, but it's still pretty sad that they exist at all.
posted by the legendary esquilax at 9:40 AM on January 13 [23 favorites]


As far as I can tell, this essay boils down to “my parents’ application of Dave Ramsey’s teachings caused me lots of problems, so I’d like to smear him with accusations of dominionism and anti-Semitism with no evidence other than he’s popular among conservative Christians.”

Even if we ignore the statements in the article itself, there's plenty of evidence out there. This entire page is basically an anti-Semitic screed disguised as philo-Semitism, with Ramsey's intro flat-out stating "Jewish people are unusually gifted at making and managing money." That it was written in part by a rabbi is no excuse, especially one as gross as Lapin. Christian Zionism in general, and Dominionist theology specifically, are fundamentally anti-Semitic ideologies. They depend on tying Jewish people to the political state of Israel, and an eventual end goal of the complete submission or elimination of the Jewish people. It always implies (and often states outright) that the Jewish diaspora, and especially the Jewish left and secular Jews, are either not really Jewish or are traitors to both Judaism and Israel.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 9:43 AM on January 13 [28 favorites]


but I've seen it a number of times now, in protestant contexts, so I'd like to know what it's supposed to mean.

I've idly wondered since I learned that's what Don McLean was singing about rather than "immortal soul" like I'd always assumed, but never quite enough to go digging. This conversation pushed me over the edge! Wikipedia has a couple related articles: Christian conditionalism and Christian mortalism.

It appears to be a fairly minority but still known and attested belief among some Protestants, and given the fringe-ish nature of the sects the author refers to, it seems pretty credible that they might hold this kind of non-mainstream view.
posted by solotoro at 9:44 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Just a note for folks who may be confused that far and away most Presbyterians in the US are members of the large, progressive denomination the Presbyterian Church (USA), and that ALL of the Presbyterians she is talking about in this article are members of one of the dozens of schismatic breakaway groups, ranging from ones that broke away in the 1800s over slavery to ones that broke away in the mid-twentieth century over Civil Rights and women's rights to ones that broke away quite recently over treating LGBTQ people like human beings.

Yeah, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church split off in the 1930’s to get away from liberal theology, during the modernist vs. fundamentalist split.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:46 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]


The thing that raised my eyebrows was her attribution of her father's use of Yiddish words to "elements of both anti-Semitism and racism":
Then there was my father’s routine use of Yiddish words with no cultural context for how he acquired them other than he thought they sounded cool. (“Spiel” what he called his own lectures; “schmutz” was anything he considered messy around the house; “chutzpah” was what I had when I was standing up to power in ways he approved of; anything he considered good/morally acceptable behavior was “kosher;” not putting your things away was “shlepping” it around; media he didn’t like was “dreck.”)
Or maybe it's because these words have become relatively commonly used by English speakers after generations of Borscht Belt comedians peppered their speech with them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:42 AM on January 13 [29 favorites]


I have a bit of experience with Quiverful families (my brother is borderline, my daughter's 2nd best friend in pre-school's family was full-on) and the relations with Dave Ramsey, and it's intersection with 'prosperity gospel' as many have picked up here. The anti-semitism, racism, and exclusionary aspects are difficult for me to parse out because that's often an undercurrent of all middle class white religions, so really they never seemed that much more than average in conversations. In fact I'd say the antisemitism is new since visiting the holy land was a huge deal and always an expressed dream and that Israelis 'take good care of' Israel was always remarked upon fondly.

It really is this strange mix since debt is a moral obligation, not just a financial one, and having kids is super expensive, so they would cut back on food, clothes, and other necessities for the existing kids to have another baby. Also the Ramsey advice on buying cheap cars meant they were forever being screwed over by shady dealerships and 'buy here pay here lots'. Plus home schooling, but again mom is always pregnant and teaching is difficult when you are at full strength. Tithing even when you are super poor - that's not something you can cut! 10% bare minimum. It's not that Dave Ramsey or that having children or homeschooling or strange religion is an issue - but combine them together and it's untenable without a high income.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:13 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]


In fact I'd say the antisemitism is new since visiting the holy land was a huge deal and always an expressed dream and that Israelis 'take good care of' Israel was always remarked upon fondly.

This position is actually incredibly antisemitic - it ties into dominionist end time beliefs regarding the Holy Land and the viewpoint they have on the role of Jewish individuals therein.

And yeah, a lot of what Ramsey does is fuel existing currents in society - but those currents cause so much misery, that they need to be rebuked.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:26 AM on January 13 [18 favorites]


This position is actually incredibly antisemitic

Yes, but if you heard them talk about other places and races of people, it's way better than average. Compared to California (even if they currently live there), Mexico, NYC, Africa, and South America, and of course the rest of the Middle East which all need to be wiped off the map yesterday.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:10 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Yes, but

No buts, really. The whole thing about "Israelis" being good stewards of a Greater Israel (it seems safe to that assume what they really mean is both that "Israel = Jews" and they deny the existence of Palestine) should still be considered very anti-Semitic, on top of incredibly racist and Islamophobic. Jerusalem is a holy city for most branches of Abrahamic religions, and no amount of "but the Jews are good people" outweighs the idea that they only deserve to live in Israel to prepare it for the coming of Jesus, and that Muslims don't deserve to live there at all.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:50 PM on January 13 [17 favorites]


Giving "time and treasure" to the church is in no way associated with the idea you'll get preferential treatment from God because of it and I find the idea super squicky.

Now, yes. But remember that the Church's abuse of indulgences is one of the things that led to the Protestant Reformation. I guess a lot of people found the practice squicky.
posted by SPrintF at 1:06 PM on January 13 [9 favorites]


Giving "time and treasure" to the [Catholic] church is in no way associated with the idea you'll get preferential treatment from God because of it

The coin clinks in the box and the soul flies free from Purgatory!

A line of thinking now displaced, but it shouldn't sound quite so odd to Catholics. It is, after all, why we have Protestants now.
posted by praemunire at 1:08 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


[Jinx!]
posted by praemunire at 1:08 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


The coin clinks in the box and the soul flies free from Purgatory!

Historically true, yes -- but dogma now speaks against that view.

Like, "lesson learned!" (Though the repeated shakedowns for the annual diocesan fund drive this year were a harder sell than I am used to....)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:10 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


For the majority of his audience, he's right on.

Dave Ramsey's wealth is estimated between $50 million and $200 million. He didn't get that rich from giving free advice to poor people. Or from his real estate deals which have gone bankrupt more than once.

He's gotten rich by advertising and directing people into overpriced mutual funds and "endorsed local providers" who give him kickback fees.
posted by JackFlash at 1:49 PM on January 13 [12 favorites]


I don't think the author really succeeds in trying to tie Ramsey to the more troubling aspects of her parents' religious beliefs. "My parents are anti-Semitic. My parents like Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is anti-Semitic." It doesn't hold up. And I don't think a family refusing to use credit cards is a real hardship. Most people would be better off without them.

However, if you want a reason to boycott Ramsey, his organization discriminates against same-sex couples. Male/female couples can purchase his Financial Peace University program and share it. People in same-sex relationships have to buy their own separate programs. Here's the rule:
"The Church agrees to purchase one membership kit per family unit enrolling in FPU. A family unit is defined as an individual, a married couple, or an engaged couple who has set a date for getting married within one year of their enrollment. A married couple is defined as a male and female joined in accordance with the state laws of Tennessee." You can read the rest here.
posted by FencingGal at 2:05 PM on January 13 [17 favorites]


Is his personal finance advice (which I think is highly useful and commendable) any different from Mr. Money Moustache's?
posted by ocschwar at 2:24 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


And I don't think a family refusing to use credit cards is a real hardship. Most people would be better off without them.

The problem isn't not using credit cards, it's becoming a ghost in our financial system (which made it much more difficult for Ettinger to leave her husband), and it's turning debt into a mortal sin that should be avoided at all costs. Ramsey literally advocates things like getting a second job just so you can more effectively service debt - I'm not talking people who are drowning in debt, but professionals with stable, manageable debt working a side job just to get that debt paid off faster. One of his core themes is that you should be ashamed of debt, because it is a moral stain on you.

Is his personal finance advice (which I think is highly useful and commendable) any different from Mr. Money Moustache's?

He spouts off a lot of common sense techniques like the debt snowball in early episodes, which is the insidious part - his technique is very akin to how Scientologists work, giving life advice to the vulnerable to gain their trust before selling them the toxic shit.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:34 PM on January 13 [10 favorites]


I feel like i've seen this a few times now: "mortal soul." What?

There is a lyric in American Pie: "Can music save your mortal soul"
posted by soelo at 3:18 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


The article told me that Ramsey’s books and teachings have now been widely embraced and distributed among some very destructive groups like Quiverful. When you find out Quiverful adherents are promoting your work, it’s on you to publicly say “I think these people are nuts”.

This sounds very much like "racists are Republicans." No, not all Republicans are racists, but racists sure are Republicans.
posted by rhizome at 3:40 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]


Off hand I can think of three super successful celebrities with supposed expertise who I consider sociopaths or at least much more towards that way than normal. It is like the hair stands up on the back of my neck sort of. The three that I am thinking of right now are Donald Trump, Dr. Phil, and Dave Ramsey. Consider how many people voted for and admire Trump, if you think there is something good about Dave Ramsey consider that maybe you are making a mistake.
posted by Pembquist at 4:08 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


Everyone saying "I just don't see the anti-Semitism" needs to go back and reread Glegrinof the Pig-Man's comment.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:19 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


He spouts off a lot of common sense techniques like the debt snowball in early episodes, which is the insidious part

And like lots of common sense, the debt snowball is bad advice.

Dave Ramsey preys on people’s religious guilt in order to sell books that give sub-optimal financial advice.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:33 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


The three that I am thinking of right now are Donald Trump, Dr. Phil, and Dave Ramsey.

Somewhere right now, Dr. Oz just got the chills.
posted by skewed at 5:04 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]


'Payback: Debt and The Shadow Side of Wealth' is a non fiction book by Margaret Atwood that explores cultural and philosophical aspects of debt and credit throughout history, with much attention paid to old biblical ideas about slavery and ursury, and how they filter down into our time, very much reflected in the above essay. This work was a big influence on David Greaber's book 'Debt: The First 5000 Years'.
posted by ovvl at 5:05 PM on January 13 [9 favorites]


'Payback: Debt and The Shadow Side of Wealth' is a non fiction book by Margaret Atwood

Just to add: it's also available to listen to since the book was her 2008 Massey Lecture:

"These are not lectures about how to get out of debt; rather, they're about the debtor/creditor twinship in the broadest sense — from human sacrifice to pawnshops to revenge. In this light, what we owe and how we pay is a feature of all human societies, and profoundly shapes our shared values and our cultures."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:15 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


professionals with stable, manageable debt working a side job just to get that debt paid off faster

Paying interest is rarely a good idea, if you can at all avoid it. Few things (except mortgages in specific markets) will yield a value over time that outpaces interest. Especially credit card interest.

Dave Ramsey could be the worst person on the planet, but damn, unless you’re a huge fan of the financial services sector (or plan in discharging your debt through bankruptcy, no shame in that!) please please please pay as little as you can into the financial services Patreon.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 5:30 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


Do I have that wrong about Catholics, or is the attitude in the article that tithes are buying God's love something new?

I'm sure I've mentioned before how I went to college and discovered that American anti-Catholicism wasn't actually the thing of the past I'd assumed it to be. This was one of those "things about Catholics" that people in certain religious circles (including the one the author appears to have been raised in) believe with conviction.
posted by hoyland at 5:30 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Ocschwar, it shares similarities with MrMM, but a big difference is that it’s older. As with compounding, there is a multiplicative factor, not least because he’s built an empire. MrMM came around more recently and is, as far as I know, largely an online phenomenon. Ramsey leans in much harder on the cash-only/no-debt thing, whereas most of the financial independence community seems to leans toward building points on one card, strategic balance transfers, etc.

So, same mountain, different paths. I do wonder what skeletons the current crop of Dave Ramseys may have in their closet. The biggest objection I tend to hear to Ramsey is that he’s Christian, period. If the article’s argument holds (I didn’t think the dots fully connected, but others may), that’s worth a stop and think, but see also: babies and bath water.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:31 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Somewhere right now, Dr. Oz just got the chills.

Oh he's in the book too, I just can't stand to think of more than 3 of them at a time!
posted by Pembquist at 10:11 PM on January 13


It appears as though the REAL issue is the author's apparent bitterness over her relationship with her father (and HIS interpretation of financing and religion) rather than the advice meted out by Ramsey. The article is heavy on accusation and light on evidence to back up sweeping generalizations. Therapy and forgiveness is needed more...
posted by IndelibleUnderpants at 10:25 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


The article is heavy on accusation and light on evidence to back up sweeping generalizations. Therapy and forgiveness is needed more...

Maybe, or maybe you could read the link in the above comment.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:45 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


Paying interest is rarely a good idea, if you can at all avoid it.

This is just way too absolute, and human society invented leverage thousands of years ago, so yeah, it's 'good advice' in the same way that 'get a good night's sleep' is good advice.

Debt, and especially credit card debt, is almost completely linear and parallel with income, and thus the average values thrown about are a long ways from the average person. Not only that, rolling consumer debt is dwarfed by mortgage debt, college debt, and auto debt, which Ramsey offers little practical advice about. Not only that, on the low end it's distorted by upper middle class college students living off the 'bank of mom and dad' hence why there are so many payday loan places, which are worse in every way than credit cards.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:26 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]


This is just way too absolute, and human society invented leverage thousands of years ago, so yeah, it's 'good advice' in the same way that 'get a good night's sleep' is good advice.

Beyond that, there's also the point of what's more important - paying off debt that's manageable faster, or spending time with your family? Ramsey pushes a philosophy of privation today in service of a nebulous tomorrow.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:19 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]




I think there's a lot of solid theological reasons, from a Christian perspective, to avoid debt, even within that passage you quoted, Huffy Puffy - because it, among other things, erodes human dignity and removes the ability to participate fully in society without fear from those who suffer under it. Here's a piece from my own faith about international debt which also would apply to personal debt.
In Economic Justice for All, we restated the classic principles of justice: Commutative justice calls for fundamental fairness in all agreements and exchanges between individuals or private social groups. Distributive justice requires that the allocation of income, wealth, and power in society be evaluated in light of its effects on persons whose basic material needs are unmet. Social justice implies that persons have an obligation to be active and productive participants in the life of society and that society has a duty to enable them to participate in this way (nos. 69-71). In our view, the Third World debt crisis violates all three of these forms of justice.
U.S. Catholic Bishops, Relieving Third World Debt, nos. 5 & 59
I have no idea where exactly Dave Ramsay falls on the theological reasons to avoid it, but I do want to stress that there are some solid ones. Avoiding debt is not necessarily 'hoarding treasure' - it's preventing exploitation that interferes with someone's ability to make choices for their family in society.
posted by corb at 1:18 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


Avoiding debt is not necessarily 'hoarding treasure'.

I think this is true, but avoiding debt is only one part of Ramsey's program. One thing that bothers me a lot if his embrace of the "prosperity gospel," the idea that God wants Christians to be rich and that Christians should seek wealth. This completely contradicts everything that Jesus said about money in the Bible. If he were just promoting wealth seeking, that would be one thing, but he explicitly ties it to his Christianity, which I think is obscene.
posted by FencingGal at 7:29 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


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