Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Money, God, and Kids

I found this little comic strip in the New York Times this morning (an "op-art" piece) quite touching. It's an autobiographical look at how one family copes with the economic pressures of life. There is a lot here to comment on--the reality of suffering, the ways couples fight, playing the "religion card" in arguments, and the sheer terror of not having enough money. Overall, it's a picture of a cruciform life. Most people are fed a theology of glory--whether religious or secular. Work hard, play your cards right, and things will always get better. What the New Testament shows us (and life confirms) is that the real world is cross-shaped. In other words, do your best, and you will be slaughtered. Dark, I know. But the life of Christ and the teaching of the New Testament shows that life only comes through death. As St. Paul said, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." In contrast to this, many Christians have a victory mentality. Theologically, this is called an over-realized eschatology. That is, they don't realize we're still in the in-between time--Christ has reconciled people to God, but the world is still very broken. Victory theology only works in times of plenty. Now, in the midst of this recession, I have a feeling God is turning many theologians of glory into theologians of the cross.