Fairly Spiritual: Confronting uncertain economic times

I’d love to use a roller coaster metaphor to describe our nation’s current economic turmoil. However, roller coasters have a certain built-in security that has no equivalence in the securities market.

Regardless of their ups and downs, all roller coasters include a predictable place of disembarkation. This is not true of our current economic recession. We simply cannot determine the depth and distance of our present financial free fall.

Although panic seems to be an irrational or unproductive response to our current credit crisis, it’s hard to trust the calls for calm. Particularly when the people who plan on solving our current problem are the same people who let it happen. All financial prognostications are, at best, educated guesses.

It is fascinating to see the fluidity of our political convictions when we are confronted with an actual crisis. The conservative gospel of “let the free market work it out” has in practice suddenly become “on second thought, let’s have the government regulate and rescue this thing before we’re all destroyed.”

In just a few months, our free reign capitalism went from “trust us” to “help us!” It seems we believe in survival of the fittest when it comes to individual irresponsibility, but when faced with massive corporate irresponsibility, we become a welfare state.

This points to the reality that is behind much of our anti-regulation rhetoric. The simple truth is everyone desires a certain amount of governmental regulation and interference. We just have different opinions on what and who should be regulated. Frequently, our regulatory preferences are rooted in self interest. When a crisis hits our home, our friends, and our family, our regulatory ears perk up.

On the government side of the equation, the election cycle has a way of shuffling priorities. For the most part, our elected officials give priority to the issues that lead to their reelection. To be an effective politician, you need more than practical solutions and a good speaking voice. Rather, you need an audience. In our capitalistic society, money power, and fame equal influence.

Consequently, the Democratic and Republican parties continually court individuals and organizations with economic and social sway.

Not surprisingly, when corporate America is in crisis, both parties come a running.

I sincerely hope our government facilitates a productive solution to the present financial problems in our arbitrarily regulated “free market” system. This is an issue that affects every stratum in our nation. I know that these issues of financial solvency are more than hypothetical. Houses, life savings and basic necessities hang in the balance. CEOs might lose their job or have their severance packages slightly lowered, but some of you are literally confronting your worse financial fears.

It is in this vein I’m reminded of the focus of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While politicians frequently follow the almighty dollar and individuals often pursue self preservation, Jesus Christ champions the cause of the weak, vulnerable and downright poor.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus inaugurated his ministry on earth through these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As we work our way through these uncertain times, we should be mindful that God always has given priority to the poor, to those in need. If you are struggling with your basic survival, remember that God is with you. Most importantly, if tomorrow becomes a better day for you and your family, please don’t forget those who are still in need.

When we help the needy, we touch the face of God.

Doug Bursch is the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.yesevergreen.org or evergreenlife@mac.com.