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  • October 6, 2008

    Friends:

    I hope from time to time to offer reflections on events from an ecumenical and spiritual point of view.

    Recently the whole country has been transfixed by the economic crisis on Wall Street and by the economic bailout process.

    In our American culture, we tend to define ourself by financial success. We can hear the Industrial Average every hour. We look at our skylines and see that they are dominated by the buildings of businesses–the new Center developing in Tysons Corner is just one example. This stands in contrast to the central city plazas in many countries where the church building dominates.

    All of us are influenced by cultural presuppositions in one way or another Our identity can be quite tied up with financial success.

    Now there is a quite understandable anxiety at the current crisis.

    As Christians, we ask for the divine grace of peace of heart. We try to practice certain virtues such as:

    Gratitude–most of us have been given a great deal and we seek to use these gifts responsibly;Generosity–we share our resources with others.

    A virtue that I think is quite difficult to practice is simplicity. Our culture is complex. We need to have a number of things [e.g. a cell phone] to function effectively and to stay in touch with our families and friends. Yet, the culture urges excess consumption–and advertising can be hard to resist.

    We seek to live simply—not overspending or overdoing but rather valuing what we have and seeking to use things wisely.

    An example for those of us in seminary life can be books. How many do we need? Could we be using the excellent libraries of the Consortium more and purchasing less?

    I find simple living in an affluent culture quite challenging.

    Let me know what you think.

    Peace,
    John