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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Opting In

Faith needs a generous and vigorous soul, and one rising above all things of sense, and passing beyond the weakness of human reasonings. For it is not possible to become a believer, otherwise than by raising one’s self above the common customs of the world.
St. John Chrysostom
Homily XXII

No one cares to spend much time with the notion that one's own reasoning might possess weakness. To do so leaves one vulnerable as a cursory examination of self reveals that, yes, indeed one does not know all the answers and that a good many beliefs might find their basis in mere feelings. Salesmen, the good ones, make their living subtly playing to the feelings of their customers who then reason within themselves to make an otherwise unnecessary purchase.

Today's financial mess has its roots firmly set in the exploitation of feelings. The American dream of home ownership was presented as attainable to those who previously had been excluded for what turned out to be some very good reasons. Statistics had proven that a certain profile of borrower was risky. Legislators may have reasoned that if they forced the banks to offer more loans to this group, then the mean old underwriter's and loan officer's cold, hard-hearted criteria would be proved wrong. Weak reasoning indeed as history and current day events have demonstrated.

Yet let not all the blame fall to the bankers. Consumers engaged in a catastrophic lack of prudence. Their decision to dive into interest only loans and other like products was wanting in strong reasoning. The feeling of grasping a higher rung on the success ladder as defined by this capitalistic culture was too good to pass up. Never mind that home values have never appreciated at the pace of a hot IPO stock.

President Obama's Keynesian strategy to spend his way out of recession likely will fail for the simple reason that it does nothing to address the weakness of human reasoning that brought the country to this point in history in the first place. Given the absence of faith in his life, it may actually be impossible for him to see that. And while there are those who posit a broader conspiracy to socialize the nation, and therin lies the duplicitous goal of the Obama recovery plan, the hard reality exists that the United States of America has been enslaved for a good many years as she has turned her back on the authentic freedom of God and embraced the license of humanism.

And yet a way out of this economic morass does exist. As weak and limiting as human reason must be, does it not stand to reason that continuing in the common customs of the day can only bring more of the same? What if one were to rise above it? Instead of taking one's cues from the culture what if one simply took God at His word?

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal."
Matthew 6:19-20

Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:21-22

The President, the bankers, the media all try to convince the population at large that the treasure resides in the material possession of the house, the car, the image. Yet God's message clearly indicates that what is of most value is not the debt that is paid to Citi, Bank of America, or any number of lendors who now find themselves on the brink of collapse. Rather, the most prized treasure is the debt that has been already paid for by the incarnate sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ and one's response to that gift.

The fact of the matter remains that America and nearly all of the world needs not a bail out but an opting in. That "in" is no less than the faith in the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There one finds far more than the American dream. There one encounters the Almighty's reality, which has infinite, glorious appreciation.


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