Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Troubling Times

One image that keeps coming to mind during this holiday season, listening to news reports of despair and ruin, is Fritz Eichenberg's "Christ of the Breadline". Eichenberg's eloquent wood carving, portrays a humble Christ, in line with many other people in need (all men in this instance) and comes from Eichenberg's experiences in prewar Germany and Depression-era America.

As we evolved out of the Depression, much focus was put on building the middle class, through supports like the WPA, and the GI Bill, laws and programs that made education and arts available to all, and made housing and home ownership an achievable dream. Somewhere in the latter half of the century, things began to morph into a more Darwinistic, "government is the problem" sort of thinking and those middle class supports started to erode.

We now find ourselves on the receiving end of all those policies - the needs that we have denied for so long are now shared by so many. The Wild West that is Wall Street has finally shot itself in the foot, and nearly killed itself off. The politicians that have been successful (until now) have been running on platforms of less regulation, every man for himself, which to my mind is exactly the opposite of what Christ espoused, and yet these folks were speaking to largely Christian fundamentalist groups. My mind just cannot comprehend the dissonance of those two messages. I wonder sometimes, if Jesus himself were running for office, would a Christian fundamentalist vote for him? Or would he be seen as too liberal?

So, in these times of dire economic need, keep in mind the plight of those less fortunate. It's winter, and it's Christmas. A new year is coming, and with it a new administration. Have hope and have charity in your heart. Be kind to one another, for you never know what baggage someone else is carrying. Many folks hide their burdens very well. Make your decisions with love and wisdom, and hope that the era of "What's in it for me?" is now over.

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