Not to sound like a gloom and doom preacher (or for some people too optimistic), but I really think this economic crisis may be the beginning of the end for the U.S. as we know it. Obviously, it’s way too soon to know, but these early signs are significant. The U.S. is suffering serious domestic economic loss, and its problems abroad don’t seem to have any sign of getting better. Afghanistan is a huge mess, Iraq is certainly the new Vietnam. As Badguy said, Who would want to be president at a time like this? (And as my housemate Dan said, perhaps more in line with what I would say, Who would ever want to be president?).
The scariest thing about all this is who will inevitably be affected the most by all this: the poor. The Congress decided to try and pass a bailout bill for companies that were obviously being terribly irresponsible with money. But not only did this bill come up to bail these companies out, it came up really quickly and was pushed ahead, in a very “shock and awe” type of strategy. Don’t think, just vote for it. Do it. Do it.
In one of his best posts in a long time, Jim Wallace, over on the God’s Politics blog pointed out the need for repentence. Not just with Congress, but we also have a lot of repenting to do. We’ve given in to a culture of greed and money hoarding, one that forgets the poor and favors the rich. Inevitably out of all this, the rich will find a way to get richer, and the poor will get poorer. As Christians, how will we respond? I really do think that in the not too distant future, the Church is going to start looking more like the first church, in terms of persecution, if it decides to be faithful. As Christianity continues to lose its popularity as a civil religion (which is certainly not a bad thing at all), Christians who decide to speak up and be prophetic about issues like the economy and impending wars, I think, will suffer for it more. But, as we ought to know from Scripture and especially Paul’s emphasis on suffering, the church, when it is truly being the church, will face persecution. Part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is to suffer with him. As we die with him, we also rise with him. But as Christ suffered much, we too may suffer, and when we suffer for the true Gospel, we know the church is at its strongest. For when we are weak, we are strong. But if the church continues to be complicit in the suffering of the world’s weakest and most vulnerable, then it will become more of a tool of this failing empire.
All this, for me, is a mixture of good and bad. It is, of course, hard to conceive of things getting worse for the poor, and I certainly wouldn’t dare to wish for things to get worse. So part of me hopes that I’m completely wrong about all of this. And I don’t hope for destruction. That too seems wrong. But maybe the fact that the economic foundation of the U.S. is really faltering will wake up the church to repentence and become the Church God has called it to be. The Church shouldn’t be in cahoots with the government, and maybe this will revive the church in a very backwards way, as we realize where our allegiance really has been for so long.