Over the past decade I’ve lost my interest in politics and money. I used to care. I used to think that politics and money, if wielded by the right hands, could make a positive change in the world. And maybe they can. But no one’s done it yet.
And while I’ve been losing the interest, my aggravation levels have been increasing. I hate. hate. hate. that money makes the world go round. After 9-11 I was so unbelievably mad when we were being encouraged to “go out and spend; keep the economy going”. Honestly. Can I say it bluntly? Who gives a shit?! Really. New patio furniture is going to make right the fact that we are terrorizing our fellow humans? And it’s not just the “bad guys”. We’re doing it to. And you know how we’re doing it? By wasting our money on the stupid patio furniture instead of helping the suffering and the starving and the uneducated of the world.
It’s sick. And I hate it.
And then economic events like those of the past few months happen, and I start to get really scared about how money makes the world go round. Not because of the irrationality or the injustice behind it. But because it makes my life and my future a bit precarious. We’re looking at leaving the stability of a 9-5 job to go to the 24-7 life of a pastor. And we all know how well pastors get paid, right? (Or at least the ones who don’t have their own tv shows…) But it’s not only the ministry, it’s the little thing of the tens of thousands of dollars Masters that Marc has to get before he can become a pastor. And what if the housing market drops like they’re predicting and we won’t have as much sale-proceeds at our disposal as we’d hoped/planned? And what about the $1.8 billion loss that Manulife reported today? I’m pretty sure that’s where our life insurance is. And when we got it, it sounded like such a “safe” company to go with — I mean, it wasn’t “Dick and Harry’s Lyfe Insurance” out of the back of some van, after all. What if we start losing the things that we’ve built up as security in life? What will that mean? And not in some philosophical sense, but in real life, month to month, planning for our future, dollars and sense?
The other night Marc and I couldn’t sleep, so we did what every couple in ministry (or sort of in the ministry) probably does when they can’t sleep, we started discussing his sermon topic for Sunday. And as Marc was talking about his sermon, which is about nature and the care of creation, I started to think about how warped much of life has become in the world. I’ve been experiencing a bit of what I can only describe as “visions” when I pray these days, and as Marc was talking, it was like I was looking out across all of North America, and while I can’t articulate what I saw, I can articulate how it made me feel: it made me feel sick. Black. Hopeless. Like life was not meant to be lived this way.
It’s not supposed to be this complicated. It’s like we’ve trapped ourselves in this vicious circle of money buying happiness, but we never really attain it, so we buy more, until we can’t afford any more, but we still think we need more, and we become more hopeless and more in debt, and soon it’s not just the non-happiness-bringing-stuff that makes us hopeless it’s the debt that’s come with it. And soon our society can’t support any of it, and we end up where we are now.
And we’re probably just at the start of it. And that’s what scares me. What if this is just the beginning? How are we ever to undo this consumer-driven society we’ve created? How hard is it to unlearn it all and see that stuff does not bring happiness? How do we uncomplicate society so that we realize that it is simple acts of love, not economic policies or bail-outs, which will make us feel human again? Marc’s sermon is about God redeeming creation. But how can God redeem the creation that we’ve created? It’s so unnatural. It’s the opposite of nature. I can see a forest springing new life after a fire destroys it. But when you have to reorient that ideologies of a society that is completely out of control… well it’s hard to see the green shoots of life springing up anywhere in the middle of this mess.
I guess if there was ever a time to fully believe the truth that security does not come through money, it is now. And maybe when we really start to believe that, this whole mess won’t seem quite so scary.