All Mabel wanted was a roof over her head. Well, a bit more than that: she wanted the same roof that had been over her head for most of her life. Mabel and her husband, Chester, had bought the house back in the 1940s under the GI Bill. They had raised their children there, and she and Chester had grown old there together.
A lot of outrage, including threats of physical violence, has been directed at executives of the American International Group and other financial-services firms. The executives are perceived as having triggered the world wide economic crisis by their reliance on subprime mortgage–backed securities and on credit default swaps (something few people understand even after hearing them explained).
Theologian N. T. Wright says that even when you are in the Promised Land you are never far from the wilderness. I’m not the only preacher who has pondered how our nation has gone so quickly from the promised land of abundance to a wilderness of economic uncertainty. This recession is a new place for most of us.
The publishing arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is ending its consumer-oriented book sales and will focus instead on supplying materials for congregations and textbooks for higher education, it was announced last month.
When 85 new students enrolled this fall at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, the numbers were “beyond our wildest dreams,” said President Duane Larson. But the Lutheran school’s board, looking at a 35 percent drop in its endowment value and a similar decline in individuals gifts, also had to face up to stark financial realities.
The Wall Street Journal is now urgent reading for preachers, since its daily stories give evidence that Augustine and Calvin were right. On page one, original sin daily turns into actual sin, so much so that the sins of the wealthy no longer shock us.
An accountant—so goes the joke—is someone who solves financial problems you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand. Doubtless the accountant jokes have gotten a lot nastier with news that the world’s largest accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, indulged in some unusually lax methods on behalf of the Enron corporation, apparently to retain lucrative consulting fees.