The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Bubble

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but every one who is hasty comes only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
Proverbs 21:5-6

The current financial crisis in America and elsewhere exists as a complicated tangle of events nearly too difficult to explain. If one has about ten minutes of time, this smart video portrays as good an explanation as any as to how the world suddenly got itself into this fine mess. Skip the political message towards the end, but do check out the facts.

In a very real sense, this "crisis" simply reveals the fruits of secular materialism. Everyone has a desire to get ahead in this world, but few stop to ponder what awaits at the front of the line. Financial security may bring a sense of peace of mind, but it does little to bring comfort to one's heart. Christ did not die a rich man. Even his tomb was borrowed yet the riches He brought to the world transcend anything man could remotely begin to offer.

The word greed has been diluted to the word bubble in modern vernacular. Instead of saying, Americans got greedy about the acquisition of material wealth and got burned, one sugar coats the situation to say Americans are victims of a housing bubble. No personal responsibility gets applied. It was just something unfortunate that happened. Heaven forbid the requirement of any introspection over one's actions.

What is the purpose of a house? In 1923, Kahil Gibran published his wonderful book, The Prophet, where the main character, who is a metaphore for Christ, is asked by the people of the mythical city of Orphalese to speak on a variety of topics such as love, marriage, children and the like. One of the people in the crowd, a mason, asks the Prophet, "Speak to us of houses." Below is the key message of his response.

And tell me, People of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?
Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet

Did purchasing that McMansion really help one's family if both Mom and Dad had to work in order to pay its mortgage while Junior was warehoused at daycare? And why does that $2,800 television screen need to be so big and highly defined when what gets broadcast remains so small in value and nebulous in virtue?

America wrings her hands as the stock market teeters on losing up to a third of its value lest her government bail it out with an infusion of tax payer cash. And while the popping of the housing bubble may appear to be big news, to much of the world it exists as a non-event. Some 60,000 Catholic families in Orissa India are homeless and hiding in the jungle due to Hindus who have burned their churches and their homes while chanting to their warrior god, Jai Shri Ram. This is far more of a true housing crisis which the western media has completely ignored.

One can hope that the current economic downturn might lead to an awakening of sorts for the American culture on what is of true value. For Our Lord and Savior, Heaven was not found in the material possession of a house.

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."
Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
Matthew 8:18-21

Perhaps Christ has given man in this passage of scripture the best summary of what is going on in the financial world, today. The dead, those who put money over all else, are indeed burying their own kind. For if one has Christ in his heart, then all the financial turmoil in the world matters little, and he has found not a temporary bubble, but rather an ocean of hope and peace.


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