Can anyone tell me who the Treasury Secretary was during the great depression and the war?
Which names are still on our lips from this era.
Here is my shortlist – FDR, Churchill, and C.S. Lewis. (No I was not there Lynval!)
We read about them or our grandparents & parents shared their memories because of their hopeful framing of the dire situation.
FDR’s fireside chats.
Churchill’s never give up commencement address
Lewis’s radio broadcast during the great war.
Why do these men matter? Well, they were Moses-like in their leadership in getting up to a new more promising place in our mental and spiritual lives. During the economic crisis of the late 70’s , Dr Robert Schuller supplied a similar resource through his best seller entitled:
Tough Times Never Last But Tough People Do
When 911 occurred, one of my favorite author, Philip Yancey turned one of his classics books,
The Gift of Pain, Why we hurt & what to do about it
into a paperbook to supply spiritual salve to our wounded spirits.
So, it was with bated breath, I awaited his commentary of our current financial condition. Let me share abstract of a column he wrote this past week:
Philip Yancey states:
Historians will look at the year that just ended as a financial tsunami that left in its wake millions of foreclosed homes, bankruptcies, and lost jobs. As if competing to abandon the basic tenets of capitalism, governments threw money at banks, investment companies, and huge insurers in an attempt to restore trust and stanch the flow of capital.
The first stage is simple, an instinctive cry: “Help!”
For someone who faces a job cut or health crisis or watches retirement savings wither away, prayer offers a way to voice fear and anxiety. I have learned to resist the tendency to edit my prayers so that they sound sophisticated and mature. I believe God wants us to come exactly as we are, no matter how childlike we may feel. A God aware of every sparrow that falls surely knows the impact of scary financial times on frail human beings.
Indeed, prayer provides the best possible place to take our fears. As a template for prayers in crisis, I look at Jesus’ night in Gethsemane. He threw himself on the ground three times, sweat falling from his body like drops of blood, and felt “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” In the midst of that anguish, however, his prayer changed from “Take this cup from me” to “May your will be done.” In the scenes of trial that followed, Jesus was the calmest character present. His season of prayer had relieved him of anxiety, reaffirmed his trust in a loving Father, and emboldened him to face the horror that awaited.
If I pray with the intent to listen as well as talk, I can enter into a second stage,
that of meditation and reflection. Okay, my life savings has virtually disappeared. What can I learn from this seeming catastrophe? In the midst of the financial news, a Sunday school song kept running through my mind:
The wise man built his house upon the rock …
And the wise man’s house stood firm.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand …
Oh, the rain came down, and the floods came up.
A time of crisis presents a good opportunity to identify the foundation on which I construct my life. If I place my ultimate trust in financial security or in the government’s ability to solve my problems, I will surely watch the basement flood and the walls crumble.
As analysts began picking through the ruins of the financial collapse, they started dusting off old-fashioned words: greed, moderation, integrity, and trust. When executives line their pockets at the expense of employees and shareholders, when banks make speculative loans with little likelihood of payback, when borrowers walk away from good-faith contracts, the system collapses.
A functioning economy is held together by a thin web of trust. (If you doubt that, visit a country where you have to pay bribes to get action and must count your change after every purchase.)
The same week that global wealth shrank by $7 trillion, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate hit a record 231 million percent. In other words, if you had saved $1 million Zimbabwean dollars by Monday, on Tuesday it was worth $158. This sobering fact leads me to the third and most difficult stage of prayer in crisis: I need God’s help in taking my eyes off my own problems in order to look with compassion on the truly desperate.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and we know that heaven will include no homeless, destitute, or starving people. As the stock market dove to uncharted depths, I couldn’t help thinking of private colleges, mission agencies, and other nonprofits, all of which depend heavily on the largesse of donors.
Philip finished his column with a challenge to increase our giving and build our security on a sure foundation. Challenging words in a naturally darwinian era.