Sunday, December 07, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different-Part II

“And Now for Something Completely Different!”

The turn of phrase comes from an English slapstick group “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Using non sequitur, hyperbole, and just plain visual foolishness, reality is put to the test for the benefit of looking at things from an outrageously different point of view.

I’d like to add my voice to the “completely different” crowd as we think through the dilemma of our current economic bailout policy. I know that I am no economist, but I do like an idea that is only seldom mentioned in the current debate; namely the idea of the “Jubilee Year” to the Lord. It seems that in biblical tradition, every 50 years or so, things got so far out of hand that the land and the folks that lived on the land had to “give it a rest”. There’s some merit to the idea. If we don’t “give” it a rest from time to time, it will “take” one! I wonder if we need to “give it a rest” right about now.

It has not escaped the attention of many citizens of these United States that the ones receiving the benefit of the bailout seem to be those who have the most resources within their grasp. Those of us of more modest means wonder if this is not really at the root of much of the problematic we face just now. And moreover, we wonder if we don’t have things upside down.

Why then do we bail out the corporations and financial institutions that have gotten us into the problem in the first place? Why not rather forgive mortgage and credit card debt of those of us who have dug themselves too deeply into the hole? They sure could use a bailout right about now too! Would it not make some sense to put money into the pockets of those at the bottom of the economic ladder and thus satisfy debt from the bottom up rather than from the top down?

Just wondering! Perhaps I’m just a simple parish priest and cannot think clearly, or even worse I know just enough to be dangerous. Just once in my lifetime I’d like to see the money “trickle up” rather than “trickle down”. Now that would be something “completely different” indeed.

Many folks more conversant in economics than I will turn over these problems we face in their minds and hearts. And they will likely do so better than I in resolving them. In the meantime John the Baptist comes to us eating locusts and wild honey and looking quite the character…perhaps like something out of Monty Python. But the message he brings is completely different indeed. His message would have us level every mountain and raise every valley and make the rough places plain. John would have us prepare our hearts for the savior. And what he offers is of little quantifiable value in terms of the Gross Domestic Product, debt, bailout or the like.

What John has to offer is something “completely different” indeed. He offers forgiveness for our sins. He offers us a new way of life that leads to the forgiveness of our sins. He invites us to have our sins washed away and live a baptized life “on purpose” for God. He leads us to prepare our hearts to receive a savior. And right about now it is abundantly clear; we need a savior!

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