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By Paul Proctor
June 1, 2003
Well friends, the financial storm that has been flashing on the economic radar for some time now is starting to generate thunder and lightening on the horizon. The wild volatility of the markets is enough to make one seasick. In spite of the fact that dark clouds of monetary mayhem loom overhead, many conservatives continue to shun their raincoats and umbrellas for tanning oil and sunglasses, lead by those whose steady employment requires they give a us sunny fiscal forecast. Admitting that our economy could fail miserably under their watch is simply not a viable option to the braggadocios bootstrap society of self-serving mouthpieces.
Naturally, liberals are anxious to point out this facade because Clinton and Gore are not around to share in the blame, although they are just as, if not more responsible for our predicament than the current administration. After all, liberals invented the spend and run technique that fueled this massive debt bubble, passing out money and favors to any voter they could buy, American or otherwise – hoping to drop the tab in Bush’s lap and set the stage for their glorious return in 2004. But that’s old news. And although tax cuts are always a great idea, the most recent is just too little, too late. It’s like trying to put a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. The problem is way beyond any party or president’s ability to resolve. So, don’t let those momentary spikes in the Dow fool you. It's all window dressing. When the debt bubble finally blows, and blow it will, not even a war will save this administration on Election Day. Just ask George senior. Delaying it is Bush’s only hope, politically. Clinton did it with his “plunge protection team” and right or wrong, Bush must do likewise if he wants four more years in Washington. And though artificially propping up this economy with smoke and mirrors might keep him in office for a second term, it will do nothing to save the country from pecuniary ruin.
One of the many unfortunate things about the information disseminated into the mainstream today, be it from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN or Fox News is that it’s all tainted, slanted, polled and colored to serve one party or the other instead of serving the nation as a whole. That’s why some of the most accurate and objective assessments of America’s condition are more readily obtainable overseas, far and away from the self-serving agendas and biases that drive America’s propaganda factories. News agencies as a rule tend to be more forthcoming about people, places and things when they have little or no vested interest in them – meaning that truth is often best acquired from a distance. When it comes to objective reporting, mainstream journalists seem to suffer from presbyopia; the closer they are to the problem, the harder it is for them to see it. Case in point: A recent article in the Financial Times out of London that articulates the illusionary tactics and chicanery of an American president trying desperately to rescue an economy in trouble while claiming it’s not.
US 'faces future of chronic deficits' http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?page name=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c= StoryFT&cid =1051390392975&p=1012571727088
An astute economist will tell you that the problems we face begin with the letter “D” – debt, deficits, deflation, derivatives, downsizing and a declining dollar. A discerning Christian might simply sum it up by saying: “we reap what we sow” – that the rise and fall of a nation is directly related to what rises and falls among its inhabitants. As far as I can tell, they’re both accurate. After all, sin is obviously on the rise in America while morality and church attendance is clearly falling.
It is said that right before the collapse of the Japanese economy over a decade ago, back when wealthy investors there were buying up most of America’s prime commercial real estate; many affluent businessmen, drunk in their decadence, began each day by sprinkling gold flakes on their breakfast cereal. That was before Japan’s enormous debt bubble burst in 1990. Now their economy is virtually flat – stagnant for over a decade with a prime interest rate somewhere near 0%. (Sound familiar?) The Nikkei today is a mere fraction of what it once was. My, how quickly things change when illusion gives way to reality.
Those of you who read my column regularly know that I primarily address matters of church and faith. So, what does all this have to do with church and faith?
Being a faithful Christian involves being a faithful steward of all that the Lord has blessed us with, come rain or shine. And, let’s be honest here, the sun has been shining over America for a very long time. Even our poor are considered rich by worldly standards.
But now, according to an article in Agape Press, it seems that the church as a whole, is feeling America’s financial crunch. (I’ve been warning deaf ears about this coming for nearly four years.) It is reported that tithing is now off by 62%. Makes it kind of hard to honor those building loans, pledges and commitments we made back there under sunny skies too, doesn’t it? That’s why Jesus told us not to make them.
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne…” – Matthew 5:33-34
Decrease in Tithing May Carry Ramifications for Para-Church Ministries http://headlines.agapepress. org/archive/5/292003c.asp
But really now, how much money does it take to share the gospel with somebody? It’s not as if we can’t afford it. I remember a former pastor of mine telling me a long time ago: “Paul, the gospel is free but someone has to pay for the bucket to carry it in.” Well, I’d like to suggest to you that the postmodern church’s enormous buckets appear to be made of solid gold these days – pleasant to the eyes and very exciting to showcase but largely irrelevant to the call, if not altogether inconsistent with the message we claim to carry in them. The sheer weight of indebtedness and management needed to secure and sustain them has complicated and corrupted what was originally intended to be simple and pure – and not very expensive, I might add.
From all appearances, our prosperity and debauchery have robbed many of us of our faith and all but blinded and paralyzed the church at large. We seem to be so busy buying and building bigger and more beautiful buckets that we’ve lost the wherewithal to carry anything of eternal value in them. Tell me – just how is that a ministry? So much time, effort and money has been spent manufacturing and maintaining these treasured receptacles that many of us have forgotten all about the priceless cargo they were supposed to convey. Is that being a good steward?
No, it’s not expensive to tell people about Jesus. It only gets pricey when churches transform themselves into carnivals competing with each other for converts and consumers. It seems, in many ways, our golden buckets have become our golden calves, where we gather to dance and revel in our sensuality, leisure and idolatry.
Yes, hard times are coming to America but maybe the Lord will use them to deliver us from the bondage of our buckets so we can get back to delivering the gospel.
"...for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." – Matthew 5:45b
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at email@example.com
"One of the many unfortunate things about the information disseminated into the mainstream today, be it from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN or Fox News is that it’s all tainted, slanted, polled and colored to serve one party or the other instead of serving the nation as a whole."