While watching Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason last week (on vacation), I was struck by the honesty of Mary Gordon, a writer who is Catholic:
I think most of what I treasure seems very vulnerable to me right now. And it seems vulnerable to me on several different fronts because I think there are two major narratives in the world, the narrative of fundamentalism and the narrative of consumerism. And I think that what I value is threatened by two opposing forces. One, the fundamentalist force, which wants to censor doubt, censor questioning. And one which wants to make everything about money. And one of the most disturbing phenomena in the world as I experience it now is that everything seems to be about money. What can be commodified, what can be sold. The notion that there’s never enough money. That greed seems to be okay. That the value of an artistic or a literary production is how many mega bucks it makes. That the value of a vocation seems to be gone. It’s what can you do that would make money. And so, I feel that these two narratives which intertwine in some poisonous way that I don’t quite understand, both of them make me feel very vulnerable.
I love her perceptive views throughout this conversation. Our world has so heartily accepted greed in the last few decades that there’s little respect for the hard worker who is just trying to make the bills or for more altruistic vocations. “The value of a vocation seems to be gone.” I found myself enjoying almost every word that came out of her mouth. On the one hand, I can’t imagine for a moment someone like Osama bin Laden getting joy out of killing (especially considering the two great commandments), but on the other I relate to her disgust with the way our world is turning.
This quote about greed reminds me of the words of Paul to Timothy:
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (2 Tim 6:5-6)