The danger of a solid economy

Downtown Los Angeles.  Tallest Buildings: US Bank, Citi Bank, Wells Fargo , Bank of America.

“They didn’t want to risk the hazard of depending on an invisible God. They wanted the security and stability of a solid economy”

-Eugene Peterson, Run with the horses

Somewhere along the way we lost it.  We made the focus point of our lives that which was supposed to be a means, not an ends.  We oriented our entire life course around an invisible entity called the economy.  Our unwavering thirst for certainty was quenched by the facade of temporary success, wealth, and boom-times.  We thought our forward progress and endless projects were limitless.  The population exploded, real estate sky rocketed, and we drank the punch.  We got so inebriated that we deemed our selves Kings, Queens, and CEOs.  We were dictators of our own destiny, entrepreneurs of our own eternities, and investors in our own invincibility.  Our sacred worship revolved around consumption chapels, shopping masses, and salvation banks.  The tallest buildings in our land became the loaning institutions convinced that there was no limit for this new Tower of Babel, we could just build, construct, and take out more loans.  We looked around at our neighborhoods and communities and convinced ourselves of our relative modesty, justifying our latest purchase, all the while destroying, burning, and overworking the health of both land and labor.

I’m convinced that in our worship of consumption, we lost our way.  As this house of cards begins to shake under the weight of our over draft and bankruptcy, our response is anything but corrective, instead we fought.  We close our eyes and cover our ears, desperately hoping our time in material excess and obesity isn’t eclipsed.  We’re franticly trying to equate solutions and strategies to appease our economic deity.  Do we cut or spend more?  Do we borrow or consolidate?  Just don’t take away all that we know – our security!

All of our neurotic math and political debate only prolong our slavery.  We’re in so deep this drunken stupor that we can’t see where we went wrong.  Depression hits when all that we knew is taken, the things we once received our identity, value and worth from.  But take heart, for those things never actually possessed the capacity to bring meaning to our life, they mostly just confused us.

Could it be that the best thing for us is actually uncertainty?  That this is where life truly awakens us to our perpetual selfishness and misguided worship?  Frankly, we worship what we focus on, and we become the merits of what we worship.  For far too long we have worshiped progress, consumption, and security, things that aren’t inherently bad, but shouldn’t be confused with what actually gives breath to life.  What if we welcomed uncertainty and allowed our economic instability to teach us?  What if we embraced challenge and failure as the means to being a better person?  What if our goal was not the stability of a solid economy, but the awakening of our true humanity?  What if our focus was not comfort, but faith?

Maybe it’s easy for me to suggest, as I was not a big loser in the recent economic downturn, but even still, as I survey the earth and what we done with it, I’m convinced it was only a matter of time before we sobered up, and our jenga tower of debt and greet collapsed.  To this I raise my glass and offer a prayer that we will not forget the poor in the midst of our own wealth shrinking, as this will gage where our heart is fundamentally oriented.  If we focus on maintaining our nest-eggs, and increasing our wealth, the greatest lesson will be lost – we’ll only be patching worn and torn bed sheet with paper! Let’s not seek to hold on to what was never ours in the first place, only to miss out on the real treasures of life.

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