Neoconservatism and Economico-Religous Discourse

Now, what I believe is the most prominent and compelling aspect to The Total Money Makeover are its religious allusions and similarities. Firstly, the “motto” of the book, which is printed on the bottom of each page, is “If you live like no one else, you will live like no one else.” It would be a bit extreme to accuse Ramsey of attempting to pose as something like the Jesus Christ of our contemporary milieu – adapting his teachings and saving discourses to common contemporary issues, but the closeness is striking.

The book is interspersed with biblical quotes, some of which directly pertain to debt, and some of which are interpreted in some questionable ways by Ramsey.  The book is also filled with various “success stories” written by people who accomplished the total money makeover and write back to Ramsey. These stories not only affirm Ramsey as an authority and validate his “teachings,” but also emphasize the best part of the makeover: when the undertaker had enough money to give.

Ramsey also openly admits he is a strongly believing Christian in the preface, and the “narrative” of the book is quite biblical. Ramsey, and the reader, through self-denial and rigid morals they achieve the ability to influence and help others – both through monetary donations and by influencing others with regard to their achievement. Ramsey not only writes about financial “fitness,” but financial “peace,” and “freedom.” He wants to save the reader but seeing a slave to lenders – the Bible did not permit usury. It also worth mentioning that Ramsey has developed a program called “Financial Peace University” which has a body of literature and hosts classes in churches and is making its way into educational institutions.

The book also invokes an interesting, and Foucauldian, confession – what I will call the “economico-religious” confession. Ramsey provides budgets worksheets and various other tables that not only cause the reader to measure his subjectivity, but to confess his financial sins – to constantly examine and judge himself:

The dreaded B word enters the picture here. You must set up a budget, a written budget, every month. This is a book about a process that will enable you to win with your money, a process that others have completed successfully, and I assure you virtually none of the thousands of winners I have seen did it without a written budget. (Ramsey, 95)

The reader must constantly be thinking of the future in order to reach his goals, to “live like no one else.” He must confess his financial obesity, and work to fix it with every ounce of his self. The reader must measure himself before he acts, and then contemplate whether each action is in accordance with his “plan.” The eating disorder comment above is especially resonant here. “If they think you are crazy, you are probably on track. (105)”

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