Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fear Not [no.37] Fearless Engagement

Oh, now, this one... this one is interesting.
I seriously cracked myself up pairing it with the image of the US dollar's inscription IN GOD WE TRUST. #irony

Here is the complete chapter:

Psalm 49

Hear this, all you peoples;
    listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
    rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
    with the harp I will expound my riddle:
Why should I fear when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
    that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
    leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,
    though they had named lands after themselves.
12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
    and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
    who will never again see the light of life.
20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
    are like the beasts that perish.

This makes me think, quite a bit, about our current presidential candidates and economic situation in the US. Several candidates promote quite sincerely that their ability to acquire wealth in this life makes them qualified to lead our country. Indeed, it is their wealth that enables them to even run for office. Perhaps they will enable the country to be better off financially (I seriously doubt it)... but that has little to do with justice or lasting goodness. The verses remind me not to be afraid when people boast about their wealth. Wealth means nothing to God. Why should it matter to me? The wealthy and the poor will perish--the wise and stupid likewise.

Understanding, however, is held in higher regard. Understanding of what, however, isn't specified here... but I doubt it is the understanding of how to manipulate the economic system. It is more likely the understanding of people, of God's ways, of justice. (Justice in the sense of goodness, not retribution.)

Sanders, in particular, looks at the economic gap in this country and calls it out for the greedy system it is. Not sure how bad that gap is? Watch this (which is probably outdated by now anyway):

And while I see a true push for justice in his political stance, I have to note too, that he may be manipulating our fear of being left out, held down, and voiceless.

None of this, though, should cause me to fear.

Some people come at politics from a religious viewpoint like this and decide not to vote or to be involved in the political process whatsoever. However, I like a phrase I picked up in my reading somewhere called fearless engagement. I'll have to reflect more upon this later, and I'll try to find the link to the article I read about it. But for now, I'd like to foster in myself, and encourage in others, a fearless engagement that is based on understanding, not ignorance, and is rooted in a love of others.

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