Archive for October 9th, 2008

When Money Fails

October 9, 2008

I know little about economics, perhaps less than most. I do know when I hear scary stuff on television, though I know television likes to scare us (it keeps us watching). Nonetheless, I can’t help but notice that, world-wide, various markets are in a bit of a panic – and if not panic – at least they recognize a crisis when they see one.

One of the great difficulties in our modern world is the fact that it is built so firmly on the continued stability and growth of economies. Again, I confess my ignorance about economic theory. However, I do know that although we must work and eat and engage in most of things that make up economies, such activity can easily become the center of life. Whenever that center ceases to be stable, then we find ourselves shaken to the core. In my parents’ life the two great events were the Great Depression and the Second World War. One is unlikely without the other. Thus a time of world-wide anxiety is a time of increased danger, and thus should be a time for increased prayer.

There are some who will look at the collapse of a market as the just desert of those with whom they disagree. But inevitably the victims of world-wide tragedies are always the weakest. The strong and the rich almost never seem to starve. All the more reason for prayer – may God protect the helpless!

Money is only one of many intangibles upon which our world rests. Our culture gods are far more flimsy than one would expect. In the Scriptures, within the Revelation of St. John, the angel cries, “Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen.” Thus it is with the world – things that seem to be great are not so great and things that seem to be of little value are of great value.

It has been a commonplace within Orthodox spiritual thought to believe that the continued existence and well-being of the world depends first on the goodness of God, but secondly on the prayers of but a few righteous souls (known only to God). It is the math of Sodom and Gomorrah (whom God would have spared for the sake of ten righteous souls).

I do not believe it to be the case that those few righteous souls are aware of the value of their prayer. Such a burden is too much for the pride of man. But it also says that no one should undervalue the prayers they offer for the world.

As the world shakes (yet again), Christians must be about prayer – not about “I told you so” or other comments that proceed from something less than mercy. Let God save souls. Let us pray. The first activity is never ascribed to man in the Scriptures. The second is a commandment from God.