Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Story Within the Story

I am reposting this from Inward/Outward:


By David Wade

I no longer open my quarterly 401K reports. So much of my account’s value has been lost that if I were closer to retirement age the prospect of my working at McDonald’s into my 70’s would be unavoidable.

Despite all of the news coverage on the financial crisis, I feel a vital interpretive element has been missed. It has to do with the story within the story. It is often the story within a story that reveals a deeper truth about the whole. The overweening hubris of our nation’s top financial corporations, exemplified by the millions of dollars of bonuses issued with bail-out money, along with the other accustomed accouterments of the privileged, should really come as no surprise. History is papered with the overblown egos and Marie Antoinette-styled sensitivities of the rich.

Yet we are America. Our founding was driven, in part, by a reaction against European “blue-bloodedness.” George Washington was “first among equals.” This land is your land, this land is my land. Yet during the recent Presidential campaign, “socialist” was an epithet used to eviscerate any populist economic sentiment––mostly by people, aside from the unbelievably cynical news hounds who threw the term meatily to the masses, who have no idea what the term really implies. And while the lifestyles of the sharks of Wall Street are protected, labor unions are vilified and disempowered in the name of financial stability.

Who’s to blame? Who can be held to account for sleeping at the switch while our nation was plundered by robber barons?

We are. The church. We’ve failed our nation.

For the last 40 years, the American church has been dancing to the drum of political power. Paranoid and pliable, it has promoted the issues its masters have required. And in doing so, lost its prophetic vision—sold for a few seats at the table of kings. And to echo the words of Psalm 2, the powerful now just laugh at us for being so gullible. What a bunch of rubes! Get them to focus solely on abortion and homosexuality. Make these their major issues, get their leaders all lathered up, marching and praying, hateful and fearful. And we’ll plunder the coffers of the American Dream. We will run this nation any way we please––secular, misogynistic, violent, imperial. And the impotent Church will beg for scraps from our tables, grateful to receive a White House Christmas card.

We’re all to blame. Left and Right. We’ve all been caught up in the game. We’ve made clowns out of servants like Jeremiah Wright. Where was the Left to come to his defense? Silent. Where was the progressive church when Prop 8 was on the ballot in California? Defending Rick Warren’s right to deliver an over-eager Inaugural prayer. Politeness replacing prophecy. Political correctness replacing holy zeal. The Left has as much to answer for as the Right.

This is the story within the story––the news that’s not being reported. And thank goodness! How much more discredited does the church need to become? As a pastor, I say let it go all the way down. Megachurch marketing, Focus on the Family, prayer cabals at the White House and the Pentagon, the Rapture industry, let it all go.

And let’s start anew. Let’s find our voice again. With no strings attached. Let’s minister to the newly disenfranchised, the despondent, the truly left-behind. Let’s be the church in the street, on the assembly line, in the food stamp line. Let’s call new generations, young and old, to a transformational journey. Let’s abandon a false dream, and find the one nestled in God’s heart.

David Wade writes from his home in Virginia Beach, where he facilitates The Welcome Table on Saturday evenings at 6 in the chapel on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan College. He says, “We’re just a tiny piece, but, together, maybe we can find this new dream.” If you’re ever in the area, join them in the search.


What do you think?

~ Keith

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