Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Turning of Tides and the Change of Seasons

Greetings, friends. Sorry it has been an ETERNITY since my last post! I know that Blogs are supposed to be "everyday" kinds of things, but I'm of the "elder" generation that believes that if you don't have something important to say, then don't SAY it.

Much of my attention has been focused on the presidential election. I'm an election "junkie," and since I don't want this Blog to be be too political in nature, I have refrained from commenting. Being that I am a fairly liberal Democrat, however, you can probably deduce for whom I shall vote...

The big story affecting us all--believers, non-believers, governments, churches and other non-profit agencies, rich, poor, you name them--is the "bulbed out" economy. I believe it is greed that got us here. People for whom money is everything, including their profession, devised many and ill-advised ways to "manufacture" wealth, and the bubble on these financial "instruments" finally burst. Others sought mortgages on homes they couldn't POSSIBLY afford, and found institutions foolish enough to lend the funds. Now that the chickens have come home to roost on these sub-prime and other contrived loans, people are losing their homes right and left. Why do we do such things? Is it because we believe we DESERVE to be wealthy, not matter what the cost, or that we believe life OWES us a big, beautiful home? Some have tried to lay the blame on the sub-prime collapse at the feet of certain low-income persons who borrowed at sub-prime rates and have defaulted, but from what I've read, these were not the majority of the cases.

I used to have wonderfully stimulating debates with a conservative lawyer in one of my congregations. He argued that human greed will always be a factor in economics, and that the best we could do was balance it with what he called "enlightened self-interest." His point was that we naturally will look out for ourselves, but that persons who were sophisticated enough to "rise above" the typical neanderthal tendencies, may learn to factor in concern for neighbor and community to the list of what matters. As a more liberal thinker, I tend to believe that God has made each of us with a level of dignity and moral responsibility, and an appeal to this better nature is in order. Whatever we call "sin" can certainly get in the way, but it should not be blamed for everything we choose to do that elevates self above all else--we need to take responsibility for that, personally.

Is there a way out of this mess? Yes, but it obviously involves many people swallowing their pride and allowing government to literally DUMP trillions of dollars into less than public hands, if the economy, the banking community, and the credit situation are to get back on track. Conservatives who profess to hate government intrusion are just going to have to GET OVER IT, and those of us who despise the thought of handouts to the well-off will have to get over it as well. If the economy totally tanks, ideology won't much matter; we'll all be in soup lines again.

Where is God in this? Probably playing the role of a parent who sees his/her child learning a very hard lesson. Such a parent wants to intervene to save his/her child from suffering, but he or she knows that the lesson will be aborted if they do. Still, I pray for those far less fortunate than I for whom this situation is most dire. There are people who won't eat, and that is tragic.

Speaking of the turning of tides (were we?), I got the call from the powers-that-be in my denomination, The United Methodist Church, to a new pastoral appointment commencing January 15, 2009. This is an unusual "mid-year" move, necessitated by a serious illness on the part of one of our district superintendents. I have been appointed as the senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Warren, PA. Special thanks to the wonderful people of Sharon First UMC, who have put up with my fits and foibles over these past six years. Pray for the folk in Warren, that they can deal with what is coming. To quote the Apostle Paul, we shall "press on toward the high calling of God..."

Well, that's about all I have to say, so in keeping with the philosophy of my generation, I shall stop saying it. Shalom, my friends.

What's Next?

  What’s Next?   2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 6:1 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 6:2 David and all the people...