Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A note on a set of questions from Irshad Manji

Here is a response to a request from Irshad.

Do you think I spoke her language? Or am I too full of puns and syncretism?

  1. Is the global financial meltdown more of a spiritual crisis than an economic one?
  2. Does God hate materialism?
  3. Can religion effectively curb human greed?
  4. What ethical lessons have the past several months taught us — be it about saving or consuming?
I did not change a word in the questions or in my answers as I sent them.
  1. Of course the global financial meltdown is a spiritual crisis when the Trust companies don’t trust each other and when our ‘currency’ in terms of our ability to trust people’s use of time and effort to create value is no longer ‘current’.
  2. God loves all that God has made materially and fully, as it is written – “let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine.” That poem (Song of Songs 1:2) shows what holiness is. The switch from third to second person in the middle of a thought is typical of Hebrew poetry and invites a similar switch for us so that we may recognize how the Anointing of God’s Spirit is real and tangible. To put it into an easily misunderstood form: Only God makes sense. In more words: What is real and tangible is inhabited by the Spirit of the Compassionate One.
  3. Can religion curb human greed. Religion has no power of itself and may even mask both the abuse of power and the greed of convenience. The power implicit in faith is in the object of such faith, i.e., if it is what people call ‘religion’, the Anointing of the Compassionate One – such as is seen in a psalm or in any work of beauty that builds us up – such as your courage. For me this power is in the death of Jesus on whose day you are speaking. It is his full measure of Spirit through his self-giving death for me that gives life to me in all its aspects.
  4. Ethical lessons are not about saving or consuming – but on providing value for service. Saving is another form of misplaced trust. Consuming is another form of convenience in place of service. The place we need to be is where we are at any one moment – as Jesus said – “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”.

No comments: