The wealth of the kingdom

"I repeat, I emphatically repeat: ingenuous people and active figures are all active simply because they are dull and narrow-minded. How to explain it? Here's how: as a consequence of their narrow-mindedness they take the most immediate and secondary causes for the primary ones, and thus become convinced more quickly and easily than others that they have found an indisputable basis for their doings, and so they feel at ease; and that, after all, is the main thing."

So says Dostoevsky's underground man. The narrow-mindedness leads to deceptive explanations, these explanations to bad actions aimed at comfort, and that comfort reinforces dullness and narrow-mindedness. It's difficult to look up and find something that doesn't fit the bill. Whether it's a new spin on free-market economics or the most compelling argument for a universal health care program, the latest fashions or the best tastes in pop music, we are always finding secondary substitutes, images, for real goodness, real beauty, and real truth. Despite pundits of all affiliations rocketing their arguments across the aisle (and this aisle becoming more and more like a wall) some unlikely voices of reason and humility have been heard. Some Americans are seeing through the arguments about these "secondary causes" and discovering the primary cause of our discontent. Some are even finding the God who enters into it.

Whatever kind of crisis we face, whether it's medical, relational, economic – we need to realize that at the core of these crises is a deep spiritual crisis. In sin we're removed from God, removed from each other, and removed from ourselves. Our experiences of frustration, fear, anxiety, and misery shake us to the core of our character and ask us the same question the story of the rich man and Lazarus asks us. Who are we? Where and what do we stand for? Suffering always asks the same question and points to the same answer, but we busy ourselves in finding comfort on our own.

This week there are two great pieces of media worth mentioning. The first is called "Return to the Big Pile of Money." Two years ago, Public Radio International and National Public Radio teamed up for a broadcast called "Big Pile of Money," which focused on the people who contributed to the financial crisis, and the people who suffered from it. Eighteen months later, PRI and NPR aired a sequel and caught up with Glen Pizzolorusso, a man who was both irresponsible economist and victim. Start listening 46 minutes into the broadcast to hear his story of redemption here.

The second is a Wall Street Journal piece on work in the context of Christianity, not merely work in the context of spirituality. You might put it that Christians don't believe in employment, just vocation. Check that out here.