It’s the Stupid Economy – Fact, Wisdom, and Virtue

Tobias Haller, BSG, has written a good post on his “In a Godward Direction” blog entitled, “It’s the Stupid Economy.”
Here is a paragraph:

For The Economy is far from a single unified entity, but a chaotic system built up, sad to say, from the very worst in human nature: primarily greed and fear. These primitive emotions are not limited to Wall Street, but are well established on Main Street too; they find a place in every home and heart.

and ending with this:

I pray this nation will have the good sense to reject McCain’s fairy tale magic, and empty promise. The next generation will indeed pay dearly if we fall prey to the seductive promise that wealth can be universal, and cost no one anything. Rather let us ask more of those who have more, and redistribute the wealth that actually exists. That, we know, can work. And it does have the imprimatur of the Gospel in its favor.

He goes on to discuss the McCain accusations against Obama with regard to socialism, redistribution of wealth, and so on. At one point, Tobias brings up that which is ethical.
Last Sunday in my sermon I preached about that which the Church and the Christian experience seek, regardless of what we want both to seek. The Church and Christian experience seek these twin goals: Wisdom and Virtue – not necessarily Fact. The Old Testament reading for last week saw God speaking through Moses and telling His people Israel what they should and should not do and in the Gospel gives us his two great commandments. We approach Scripture and the Tradition and Reason for the purpose of gaining Wisdom and realizing Virtue. Too many Christians, both liberal and conservative, approach Scripture, the Tradition, and Reason for the purpose of proving something – proving their theory, proving the rightness of their agenda, proving their schema True, but the Scriptures, the Tradition, and even Reason in this context is not about proving something true, exact, as within the Scientific Method.
The Church and the Christian experience in this world and with God, well, we don’t necessarily seek Facts or Information, we seek Wisdom and Virtue. McCain and Obama (or at least their handlers) attempt to assert Fact, negatively or positively. The seeking of verifiable, provable Facts and the seeking of Wisdom are twins aspects of Knowledge, but not identical twins. The doing-of-fact-finding and the doing-of-theology complement one another, or at least they should. Too many Christians today put them at odds, resulting in either the demand that Scripture be all factually true else they can’t believe or the assertion that none of it is actually reliable so it can all be relatively dismissed. We do the same with economic theory or political theory – Socialism or Capitalism must be verifiably false or true, but they are neither. Battle back and forth if we must, but for the Christian we should seek something other – Wisdom and Virtue that allows us to live “well” within any system.
So, when it comes to the economy and politics, the Church should call for the candidates to explain how their ideas are wise and virtuous. The theories come and go, attempted in practice and only realized too late that what is on paper does not work on the ground. Wisdom, however, is beside the point of fact or exacting proof. In Wisdom, we can say that we don’t know at this particular point in time and place what is best, but we know how to seek and to discern and to judge come what may. In Virtue, we can assert that in whatever system or circumstance we find ourselves, we can act in ways that benefit all. Virtue makes any system-of-this-world work better. For the Christian, whether we live in a laissez-faire capitalist economy or a socialist economy and whether we assert that either kind of system will be our salvation is beside the point, being wise and virtuous should be our goal; and the extolling of a system that is destined to fall short of the Glory of God already because, as Tobias stated, our human nature demands it, should not be our focus.
God tells His people, do this and don’t do this. Why? So that we will grow in Wisdom and Virtue and learn to have life-to-the-full, a peaceful and joyous life despite the circumstances, despite what economic system we inhabit, despite what we desperately want to be and try to prove to be in our self-deception to be Fact.
Something like that…
When we are about living “on the ground” rather than desperately proving our point factually true… Seek Wisdom and Virtue…