An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I really didn't want to do another political post...I tried to resist...but...I just...couldn't....
I always reckoned that it would be the "religious right" who would be most likely to try to outright bring forth a theocracy here in America...I was dead wrong. It's the "religious left" and their "soul healer" Barak Obama.
Nothing convinces me how wrong Obama and his disciples are when they say stuff like this: with regard to why most American's are in debt = healthcare. Excuse me...forgive me...but this is a big 'ol pile of steaming male cow fecal matter!
Unless you show me proof to the contrary (and you can't), I have NO doubts that the vast majority of Americans are in debt because they buy more crap than their budget can afford (the same reason I am in debt). TV's, DVD players, Cell Phones, Cable, Internet, XBOX, Nintendo DS for all the kids, hybrid cars, SUV's, iPODS, eating out (WHICH WILL RUIN YOU by the way!), etc etc etc. This is plain and stupid ignorance. READ MY LIPS: We chose to be in debt....we chose to be it debt! Our passions drive us to want more and more and more. We all know this don't we? Lord how we'd love to blame someone or something else...just like Adam did to Eve. Well, I suppose Obama and his wife have a government program for them too!
And are you ready folks: the Federal government is going to heal our souls!!! Not by chastening us and calling us to stop spending and encourage us to seek a radical ascetic life of spending within our means...NO...they will enable us to feed our passions under the mistaken belief - the sinfully dangerous belief - that we are in debt by no fault of our own. By jove...that is EXACTLY what the devil whispers in my ear everyday: it's not your fault.
Dude this stuff is worse than ANY of the religious mantras I've ever heard from a politician...I'm sorry but this is downright SCARY. Not to mention heretical.
Mrs. Obama...please...Christ trampled down death by death...not your husband. And we'd do far better learning that we do not need or deserve the vast majority of what we have, than to have the government give us more and provide us with the means to maintain what we do not need and cannot afford. Do you know someone who is in debt solely because of their health care needs or in general because of no fault of their own (and I'll assume such people also lack an XBOX, SUV, cell phone etc etc because they are struggling to live within their means) then bring them forward and let us help them. But please, a massive government "soul healing" program to remove debts we sinfully earned? No. LET. ME. SUFFER. MY. DEBT. Thank you.
I would like to add my own personal experience with indebtedness and health care. In the last 5 years we've accumulated $2k-$3k worth of debt have little or nothing to do with electronic shopping sprees, suv's, or x-boxes. In fact, we are on our 3rd set of hand me down cell phones, our home cpu is hand me down laptop replacing the hand me down tower, and our car was willed to us by a grandparent. No, our debts are the result of scraping by, credit cards for groceries and gas. I now have health insurance for the first time in well over 7 years, and boy I must admit those years were nail biters. One time after helping monks rack wine, I thought I might need an appendectomy, but it turned out to only be a pulled muscle...i was freaked out worrying we'd be buried deep in debt if I needed surgery. We've paid for the wife's health insurance out of pocket and the state has taken care of the kids. I cannot imagine the amount of debt we would have if we had to cover the kids out of our own pocket! Just wanted to share with you that there are real people (single income families), not burning up cash on Wii, who would have had a much easier last few years having the sole source of income covered.
I agree that to say that the reason MOST americans are in debt is because of healthcare MAY not be true, but...
Politicians can do very little to help Americans from going on irresponsible shopping sprees. Freedom is part of America... even if it is the freedom to do "stupid" things like buying SUV's, X-boxes and fancy cell phones. Sure, we could tax them as luxury items, but it probably wouldn't make any difference.
Now, healthcare is one way that our government might be able to assist people like Munkee. And if Obama (or his disciples) thinks that he can help with that... then give him the chance.
Aaron, I hope you'll stay until the fat dude (me) sings.
As I said: when some innocent soul is in debt because of no fault of their own or because of an uninsured health issue...let us endeavor to help them. Let us establish NGO's - small local ones - to provide assistance. Let us help one another in Parishes (OH! That that ministry - so beautiful - should be returned to the context of the Body of Christ) But what Obama advocates entails massive government programs operating under the assumption that American debt is primarily no one's fault. No one's fault. That is absolute nonsense. I do not believe it for a second. The VAST VAST majority of us suffer from CONSUMER debt. We as a culture are fiscally obese and are suffering economic heart disease.
Why is it I hear people readily talk and blog about American's being so materialistic, massive consumers, and adherents to the most blatant form of consumerism and moreover we lobby for "buy nothing days" and we speak of our insensitivity to REAL poverty like I see around me here.....and yet...when we start talking about Americans needing to be responsible for themselves and we suggest that most of us are in debt because we overspend (is this not the heart and reasoning for "buy nothing day") we suddenly balk? If "buy nothing day" doesn't actually address the pertinent issue, then why bother noting it? Isn't there a fundamental disconnect between cheering Obama's national debt relief and criticizing American consumerism? Maybe our rampant consumerism isn't our fault?
I am not a rich man pontificating here...I'm a lower middle class man who recognizes that he owns more than he needs and who also recognizes that he has milked the government - NOT because he was desperate or for no fault of his own - but because I buy more than I can really afford and I've a rich history of laziness. I do not practice self-discipline with my finances and I do not budget as I should. It is perhaps arrogance or a desperate need to have some sense of pseudo-justification when I suggest that I am not representing a minority of Americans here in this sin.
It is easy to forget, that money doesn't grow on trees...the fact is, when we benefit from a government program we are spending other people's money whether THEY like it or not. I hate this notion of charity...it's not Christian, not only because it isn't voluntary, but also because it is so lacking in love and community - it's just a check in the mail.
And how dare the Obamas complain about their Ivy League school loans? HOW DARE THEY!! They raked in a million dollars last year, so I'd say their wager paid off and they should be THANKFUL the loan was even available. So I suppose it should not surprise us if their personal disconnect here spills over into public policy. He says on his website that he is going to enact legislation that will help people struggling to repay their mortgage "through no fault of their own." Now think hard about this: is the government going to be able to do a good job determining if a person's fiscal crisis is "through no fault of their own"? I suppose it could be clear in some cases...but not so clear in most. We all have personal stories, Aaron...here is mine as an example (and by offering it, I speak only to myself, making no judgments on anyone else's stories):
After I left Northwest College I came home to California with no job, no insurance, massive school debt, and distraught over not knowing what to do with my life since I'd abandoned being a pastor with the AG. I went to a couple of job interviews and could find nothing. Finally through a friend I got a rather menial job working just UNDER the number of hours that would have gotten me health insurance. Sometime later I developed a condition with my heart. I ended up in the hospital and racked up even more debt. (Actually the details are rather uglier and I cannot go into them in public...suffice to say I did things that I am not proud of in the name of "unjust suffering") At the time I counted myself a victim. I had a litany of reasons why I could not find a better job...good reasons I imagined...and when Hillary and Bill started going on about their healthcare program in the 90's I counted myself their personal poster child.
But you know, as time went on, I matured a little and I began to come to the conclusion that that period was a very sad time in my life...and not at all "through no fault of my own" but as I looked hard at the man in the mirror I began to see someone who was lazy, and unwilling - for numerous sad reasons - to make an effort. I used to say "there are no good jobs"...but looking more critically at myself - more honestly - I had to admit I did not look hard at all...in fact because of personal insecurities I could easily count on one hand the number of jobs I remotely pursued. And what little money I had I had to admit was not really insufficient and unfair, but in truth I squandered it on stuff while living rent free in what was literally a closet. But for some reason my lack of initiative and self-discipline was unseen by myself at the time. I disguised it all very well - even to myself. I eventually had to admit I was NOT the Clinton's poster child, instead I was the poster child for evil republicans who called people to personal accountability. I didn't need sympathy or charity...I needed a good swift kick in the arse.
I've no doubt there are many who need help....BUT...if I was unable to see my own fault at the time of my fiscal/health crisis...would the Federal government had been able to? No, of course not...because fault is not an easy thing to see and for many of us it may take decades to discern it. It's a matter of the heart and the will...Barak Obama is placing a very tall order.
Charity works better on the small and local scale. Knowing the people you are blessing with your help not only builds community, but also creates accountability. Government charity...alas...brings none of this and breeds only entitlement. The check in the mail insists on nothing from us, but rather makes it all even worse.
Because the irony is, entitlement only breeds more spending: have you ever bought a luxury item (even a little bitty one) and said to yourself during the all-too-brief debate with your conscience: "Oh what the heck, I've not treated myself in a long time...I deserve it." It becomes a vicious cycle that any 12 stepper can tell you about.
Obama's programs of hope and change aren't going to be nearly as beautiful as his words...the contrast ought to be striking as he speaks in such communal and bright shiny phrases...he's not talking about a village campfire singing the Paschal Troparion after sharing a meal together, he's talking about bland dark buildings with crowded lines of anonymous people waiting to pick up their checks. This is not blissful Utopia, this is the Soviet Union circa 1960. And don't forget: in his version of the great American Parish, the right to kill babies comes right along with his health care for us.
That's off topic...but speaks to the sinister side of all this Christian hope he espouses. You see, all the spiritual linguistics that Obama and his wife offer us, strikes a profoundly disharmonious chord to me. He speaks about the federal government as we ought to be speaking about the Church. Why are we not helping one another in the Church? Brothers and sisters...if you need help, why would you go to the US government for help first - even expecting it - but not your brethren in the Church. What has become of us? Is the Church nothing more than the place to receive the sacrament? I know socialists who reference the fact that the church in Acts pooled their money and they say this is an apolgetic for socialism. Male cow fecal matter, if it is! The Church did this, not the Roman Empire at the command of Christ. We do see the difference, don't we?
There is no maybe about it and I'll not believe otherwise until I see stats: Our debt crisis is the result of our insatiable lust as consumers. We don't need an enabling nanny licking our wounds and telling us they'll make everything better...no...for the VAST majority of us we need a good swift kick in the hind end. STOP SPENDING! Man, how I'd love to hear that clear headed talk from ANY politician...but not likely. This Spring most of us will get a rebate from the feds in the hopes that we'll spend it (most of us probably will...including me)...well I suggest we ought to either pay off debt or save it. But we won't. And the TV converter rebate speaks VOLUMES as well...that it should be politically critical for politicians to budget a billion dollars to make sure American's maintain their luxuries...does this give evidence to a nation in debt for lack of healthcare? I doubt it. We might get off our sofas and riot over the TV not working...but healthcare must not be weighing too heavily on our hearts. Children just over in the next building here will die - some perhaps today - because they lack 200 dollars to pay for treatment. If anything REMOTELY close to this happened in America, I suspect we'd not worry too much about our TV's.
And you know what the worse part is, Aaron? I cannot help these kids. I cannot help these kids because I am in debt. I don't want Obama to set me free! I want CHRIST to convict my sinful stinking heart to change, the same heart that lusted and horded what I did not need and could not afford. I am an absolute hypocrite...I don't need our next president enabling me in this very personal regard.
For those people who truly need help in America...let us discern and address them locally. But the Federal government cannot even discern what is a remotely decent price for a hammer. To stand up and diagnose our debt problem as victimhood betrays a serious misunderstanding of common sense, the nature of man (oddly enough), and personal responsibility - which used to be a Christian value: by the sweat of your brow shall you eat.
No, I'll never believe most Americans are victims...we have no idea what that really looks like.