June 02, 2008
THE OTHER AMERICAN IDOL
Nicolas Poussin's Adoration of the Golden Calf, courtesy of wikipedia.
El Cabrero was recently asked to give a talk on the economy to a Catholic rural ministry conference in my beloved state of West Virginia. The diocese has made a special priority of health and well-being and it occurred to me that that's not a bad lens to use in thinking about economic issues.
Religiously speaking, I'm a theologically laid back Episcopalian with periodic Buddhist and Taoist inclinations working for a Quaker group. (I kind of like the Greek gods too, but try not to talk about that in public very much.) I have a great deal of respect for the economic and social justice teachings of the Catholic Church and have found the diocese to be a valuable ally in working on public policy issues.
Lincoln once said that while he'd like to have God on his side, he had to have Kentucky. When I'm working on economic policy stuff, I'd like to have God on my side but need the Catholic church. Not that I'm saying they're mutually exclusive or anything...
Anyhow, it occurred to me that when it comes to the economy, idolatry is alive and well. I'm using the term in the non-sectarian sense of both elevating any relative good to the level of an absolute and in the sense of worshipping a human creation. Although people make the economy through their own actions, we often act and speak as it it were some kind of god ruling over us.
More on that tomorrow.
SAD NEWS. The number of Army suicides increased again last year, with about a quarter of those taking place in Iraq.
GOOD QUESTION. This item asks why America executes people with mental disabilities.
OH THE WATER. You've heard of peak oil. What about peak water?
BAD "FARMING." Here's a good editorial from the NY Times about the horrible way our industrial food system treats animals in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It's bad for workers, the environment, consumers, and causes a great deal of unnecessary misery for the animals involved.
A SEA CHANGE? Here's yet another indication that the religious right no longer has a lock on evangelicals.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED