Tuesday, October 21, 2008

That Was Easy... But This Won't Be

An interesting article has just been posted at the Books & Culture website. It's worth checking out. Here's the part that hooked me:

Well, our culture is pretty afflicted right now. Which is why I am more hopeful than I've been in a long time.

I am not hopeful because I envision an easy way out of the current economic mess. We are entering into the Great Deleveraging, where an entire country of consumers will have to pare back their reliance on cheap mortgages and abundant credit cards. (Remember when your mailbox was stuffed with credit card offers? Seen any lately?) The national savings rate might even rise above 0%—yes, that is zero percent, the proportion Americans have been collectively saving for several years now. But that means that consumption, a major engine of our economy, will have to decline dramatically.
I am not hopeful because I have confidence in whoever will be elected president in 15 days. I have grave concerns, as a Christian and as a citizen, about both candidates and will in all likelihood vote for neither. (Not for the first time—in 2004 I wrote in Colin Powell.)

I am not hopeful because I think we are well prepared for what is ahead of us. We are not. We are a terrifyingly unserious people, our heads buzzing with trivia and noise. This is more true, if anything, of American Christians than the rest of our country. The stark contrast between what I experience among Christians anywhere else in the world—and not just the "Third World," because Canada and Germany and Britain and Singapore come to mind as quickly as Uganda and India—and American Christians is astonishing. We are preoccupied with fads intellectual, theological, technological, and sartorial. Vanishingly few of us have any serious discipline of silence, solitude, study, and fasting. We have, in the short run, very little to offer our culture, because we live in the short run.

I am not hopeful because I think life is going to get easier in America. I am hopeful because I think it is going to get harder, and in a very good way. And I am hopeful because I think this means my children and grandchildren will live in a deeply and truly better world than I would have thought possible a few years ago.

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