Goodbye, America.

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.

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4 comments

  1. ric booth · October 2, 2008

    Excellent post Brian. I have said that some part of me actually want it to all come crashing down. Patti reminded me of the same thing you point out here: the poor will be the ones who suffer. However, I fear bailout or crash, those of us who HAVE will pay for it and there will be less “trickling down” (as if there was ever any trickling down!) to the poor than ever before.

    I do pray that “hard times” will bring the us (the church) back to focus and that we’ll band together to help the least of these.

  2. b4dguy · October 11, 2008

    The most comforting (comfortable) thing about living in the US in the 20th/21st centuries is that as a Believer I haven’t really had to suffer for Christ. Personally, I do not like suffering, nor do I look forward to the opportunity to suffer for any reason. I am endeavoring to persevere; the times they truly are a changing.

    I admire those Believers that have decided to take more seriously the calling to be a force for Christ – and to be disruptive enough in the flow of society and politics so as to agitate and become a target for REAL persecution. I admire all of this while I sit in my nicely heated home, sitting on a comfy couch, well fed, dressed, and having every material need fulfilled.

    A week later and the stock market has continued to tumble; and the prospects are it will continue to tumble even more next week. Trillions of dollars have been “lost”.

    Trillions.

    I’m not sure the poor are currently suffering as much as the rich; I think the rich are being knocked down a few pegs and the gap might be closing between the two demographics (wherever you measure them). The economy of this country has been artificially propped up for many years – built primarily on credit. I think the collapse that is happening, and the end of the U.S. as we know it is inevitable, because I don’t see what the country can do to correct or halt this massive slide.

  3. brianjgorman · October 13, 2008

    Thanks for the thoughts, Eric and Jeff.

    It is odd to talk about persecution, because most of us have no real concept of that feels like or looks like, at least not in a physical sense. But who knows what (or if) the next wave of persecution could look like. It seems to me that the private religion that doesn’t challenge the status quo will never be something the government/world will worry about, and indeed, it never really has.

    I think that many Americans are in the same boat as you, Jeff. But maybe it will not always be possible to call yourself a Christian and remain “safe.” If the Church becomes known (as a whole, as a community) as an entity that challenges the world, then perhaps just to label yourself as Christian could be dangerous.

    Though I didn’t state it, I feel odd talking about persecution mostly because I think that many Christians in the U.S. talk about the “persecutions” they face in trying to spread the Gospel, generally taking the form of the unbeliever showing anger or “intolerance” of the evangelist on the street handing out tracts, or the like. Yet, Paul seems to think that there is an intimate connection between our life in Christ (and its shape) and suffering; to be crucified with Christ means to suffer alongside him. What does that mean?

  4. b4dguy · October 21, 2008

    What does that mean? hmmmm…..most of the disciples were murdered.

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