Archive for January, 2012

Ah yes, politics…

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

It may not be obvious, but the opportunities for real change in this cycle have passed. The powerful succeeded at enlarging their holdings. Enough cash was printed up to keep the rest of us surviving out of  big-box stores. An effective Wall Street proxy sits as the Executive and Congress is well paid. The Federal Reserve has declared money effectively free to the rich for the next several years.

The sad truth is, meaningful change can happen only when most people really suffer – really suffer. We got close for a while there, and a lot of us laid out our thoughts for a better America. But it was not to be.

I have to remind myself: this isn’t so bad. We can easily imagine more horrible situations. There’s even some humor in watching people knock themselves down through willful ignorance. It’s like slapstick comedy. The incumbent President (talking loudly about how wealthy he is) gets to run on a resurgent America, against a guy who made twenty million a year during the Recession and proudly claims ‘earning’ it created jobs. But it won’t make any difference who wins.

The Jesus problem

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

The ‘toe-the-line’ Christian propaganda is: accept Jesus Christ as your ‘personal Savior’ or burn in Hell. There are people who genuinely believe this, and if you don’t, it can be a bit difficult to hear anything helpful in the rest of what the proselytizers have to say. This is awkward for those of us who love Jesus but think he can take care of himself; who believe when he professed to love everybody he meant it. I think there may well be a Hell, but I don’t believe anyone goes there forever.

In fact, the ‘hang-with-our-own-crowd’ Christians are pretty easy to ignore (except by friends and loved-ones rejected in their pursuit of perfection). They’ll think of you as a sort of walking dead, and you’ll feel pretty much the same about them. The Jesus problem is different. The Jesus problem is: he’s right. If you don’t accept what he has to say, you’re just not going to make it as a contented adult. Because what he says is: you need to accept people as they are, you need to care for those different from yourself, you need to regard your own faults before tearing into the fellow across the street, you need to be kind, charitable, and forgiving. And on and on.

If you try to show your disdain for the holy-roller on your doorstep, you can sound like you oppose any basic goodness at all (and this has become an enthusiastic theme in popular ‘culture’). For their part, the ‘only us’ Christians have to swallow the nonsense so many otherwise wonderful human beings will eternally soak in flaming tar pits. As I mentioned, I think Jesus can take care of himself. He’s a great and wonderful human being, and he’s right. If you don’t want him hanging around with you in eternity, or you don’t want eternity at all, I’ll still be happy if you marry my children.

Willful blindness

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I’ve been reading from the financial press for a few decades now, and I’m struck by the peculiar inversion of truth in the story line printed for the public. Today, ‘markets’ are said to be ‘shaking’ because of ‘concerns’ about Europe. This is not just how the lay person is supposed to see it. This is apparently what  professional pundits believe. But I don’t think it’s how it works.

Most ‘financial instruments’ in the world are owned by a small number of acquaintances – not by ‘investors.’ The ‘concerns’ about Europe are really just the machinations of the super-wealthy, trying to extract as much capital from those societies as possible without running into real political trouble. (The sword is, after all, more powerful than the printed currency). It was known years ago the available cash would be in Europe now, and it’s known now the available cash will be in the U.S. before long. The thing is, pulling out the ‘available cash,’ to the wealthy, means devastation to everybody else.

Still, we all want to talk about this like it’s some sort of science; like it’s the inevitable outcome of billions of independent ‘financial decisions.’ I think we’re too scared to look the other way. If it’s not impersonal science, then just about everything we believe about governing, at least in the U.S., is bogus. But what’s the alternative?

Rarefied theology

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

I’m a privileged guy. Not so much anybody thinks I ought to give it up: I don’t get much benefit from right-wing tax cuts. But I’m not suffering, and a lot of people are. I suffered too, once, but from here I can get to thinking less about people and more about numbers. Like, half of us are outright below ‘middle class.’ And it’s crushing. And I feel terrible. But I forget: this is God’s world and these are his people.

As I rail against the moral filth in government (and it is filthy), I start wishing I might summon the Lord to do justice – and then I remember. He already has done. Those with much have their reward. Those with little have eternal life. Every morning we wake up and laugh and hope and wait. And it’s good. It’s wonderful. It’s great to be alive!