Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Hell is an eternal maxed-out credit card. In heaven there are no debts..."

Wow. The Archbishop of York's Christmas guest column in the Times of London has some powerful thoughts and is much better than I was led to believe by a preview yesterday.

It is not a knee-jerk call for "regulation" and government expansion, but a truly Christian critique that asks us all to ask foundational questions about our common life.

Some of my favorite paragraphs:

We have all worshipped at the temple of money and we have all placed beams in our own eyes. In a headlong rush for growth we have lost sight of the moral purpose of money. We have entangled ourselves in the chains of debt, longer than those of Scrooge, or his partner, Marley, with little to show for our enslavement. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “We must remember that in a free society all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty, all are responsible.”

In her latest book, Payback, Margaret Atwood, writes: “In Heaven, there are no debts - all have been paid, one way or another - but in Hell there's nothing but debts, and a great deal of payment is exacted, though you can't ever get all paid up. You have to pay, and pay, and keep on paying. So Hell is like an infernal maxed-out credit card that multiplies the charges endlessly.”

At Christmas we are reminded that God invested himself in the most unpromising way - in humanity at its weakest and most vulnerable. We are reminded too that the coming of God offers us the opportunity to begin anew, for our debts to be forgiven and for those beams to be removed from our eyes by God.

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