A few years ago I read a very interesting book by Barbara Ehrenreich entitled, Nickled and Dimed. Perhaps you've heard of it. It was a fascinating true story of how Ehrenreich, a college graduate and journalist, worked as a maid, waitress and Walmart clerk to show the rest of us how the working poor live. Ehrenreich is a feminist, socialist and political activist. She's also currently an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. So, I doubt that her very favorite people are evangelicals. Yet, evangelicals despatrately need to listen to her all the way from Nickle and Dimed to her book Bait and Switch which is the "Nickle and Dimed" version of what is happening to the middle class (downsizing, temp jobs, part-time, etc.) to her current book, This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation which describes the economic disparity between the super rich (especially top executives) vs. the rest of us.
Jesus said in Luke 16:8 that "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." So, while our pastors were presenting their usual Sunday positive thinking sermon, and watering down the gospel so few could even understand the primary elements of it; and while our "prophets" were telling us how God isn't going to judge our country and how wonderful things will be; the socialist, feminist (Ehrenrecih) was telling us the truth. Here are excerpts from Ehrenreich's column today (9/24/08) in the New York Times Op/Ed page,
GREED — and its crafty sibling, speculation — are the designated culprits for the financial crisis. But another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking.
As promoted by Oprah Winfrey, scores of megachurch pastors and an endless flow of self-help best sellers, the idea is to firmly believe that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because “visualizing” something — ardently and with concentration — actually makes it happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable-rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits if only you believe that you can..
Later in the article she says,
Calvinists thought “negatively,” as we would say today, carrying a weight of guilt and foreboding that sometimes broke their spirits. It was in response to this harsh attitude that positive thinking arose — among mystics, lay healers and transcendentalists — in the 19th century, with its crowd-pleasing message that God, or the universe, is really on your side, that you can actually have whatever you want, if the wanting is focused enough.
How tragic that this lady has to tell us this instead of our prophets, pastors, teachers and other leaders. But I'm glad that we have her. And she isn't the only one. I've read many lately who have forecast (some even decades ago) what has happened this past week - specifically about when it would happen, and exactly what would happen. But they aren't necessarily Christians. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post where I will tell you the scathing assessment of what God has shown Andrew Strom about our current Christian leaders. And then I will tell you what we need to do about them.