Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From Wall Street to Church Street through Main Street and Side Street

By Akin Ojumu
March 24, 2009

Wall Street is no place for the simpletons. Nincompoopery is scarce in Lower Manhattan. The faint hearted cannot survive in this place where the kings of the earth pay homage at the feet of the mammon god. The brightest and the best minds of the world offer up daily sacrifices, at the altar of this being, who governs over the twp by the East River. As the smoke of the burnt offerings waltzes up into the skies, it lifts up the almighty dollar that lays resplendent within its almighty throne.

The minds that run Wall Street rule the world. They are the Masters of the Universe. These are the captains of the world financial ship – the drivers of our economic automobile. When they sneeze the world catches cold. When they talk the people of the earth listen with rapt attention. These are very powerful people whose pervading influence permeates deep into every nook and cranny of our livelihood.

Wall Street can do no wrong………..or so we thought. All our hopes and dreams for the future naturally follow our trust. So we rest our nest egg in the arms of Wall Street whiz kids. And our IRA, 401(k), and 403(b) are fully vested in the hands of the Colossus before whom all men bow and worship. Into the care of Wall Street we commit our automobiles, mortgages, children’s education, and of course our retirements. We are sold on the infallibility of man-made financial system.

From Wall Street to Church Street through Main Street and Side Street the clarion call goes out, “Do not cast your bread upon the waters.” We are told to give unto Caesar that which belongs unto Caesar and then some. Daily we are buffeted with the shout to lay up treasures for ourselves and ourselves alone.

Pastors preach it, Deacons declare it, and the House of the Lord soon has become a den of financial planners and wealth managers, drunken with wine from the Wall Street orchard. The message from the pulpits becomes the how to of building personal wealth and financial security. They tell us it is time for the transfer of wealth from the world to the church. The House of God, we are told, will soon become the center of world’s prosperity. And so we are charged to invest in real and imagined estates. “The only thing real,” a big man of God always says, “is real estate.” “Borrow and buy,” we are counseled, “Income should not be a hindrance. Just stretch your faith a little bit and let Mortgage broker do the rest.”

Thus the Wall Street mindset takes hold in the House of Worship. The Body of Christ is caught in unholy web of materialism. The yardstick of church growth becomes the acres of land on which the church building stands and individual success is measured by the number of houses owned as investment properties. The focus and thought process shifted from:

".....Brethren, I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service....." Romans 12:1

To that of:

".....I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry....." Luke 12:18-19.

And it works well for a time. It is like the seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. Bigger homes, magnificent edifices of worship, luxury cars, and even private jets. Then the house of cards comes crashing down. The seven years of plenty is always followed by seven years of famine. The foolishness of Wall Street is unraveled and the infallibility of mammon debunked.

In the book titled Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote about the Tragic Vision of humankind, which he described as a school of thought that believes in the existence of inherent limitations and flaws in the way we think and act and requires an acknowledgement of this fact as basis for any individual and collective action.

The world does not subscribe to the philosophy of fallibilism, the philosophical doctrine that all claims of knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. To the whole world Wall Street can do no wrong. And in our own childish innocence Believers in Christ also believe - and strongly so - that Christian leaders can do no wrong. Yet the world in the height of its wisdom is still pitifully foolish.

Whereas the scriptures tell us:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21.

Wall Street tells us the direct opposite. So whose report do we believe and whose orders do we obey?

The whole world (the whole creation), it turns out, seems programmed to spit in the face of the Creator. At every turn and at all times we flaunt our free will and haunt our Maker with our power of choice. The world seeks universal truth and attainment of the highest individual human potential. It is the theme of the books we read, the rhythm of the songs we sing, and it is the common thread that runs through all the TV shows beamed for all to see.

The preservation of self is the weltanschauung of the new age mentality and it is the foundation of Wall Street.

But the truth is the Word of God will always prevail because:

".....whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it....." Mark 8:35.

1 comment:

XtianDoctrine said...

This sort of captures my thoughts on this whole issue of wealth and prosperity preached in our churches. We have misplaced our priorities as Chrisitians.