Creeds Have Consequences

When America's most powerful investment bankers spend their spare time worrying about what the simple folk are up to, you know something is afoot. A newsletter from a Wall Street investment house perfectly describes the dilemma of modern America: We've gained many of the material comforts of the world, and at the same time, lost our soul. The scene was right out of The Great Gatsby. A late-summer lunch was taking place on the veranda of a luxurious estate on Long Island, all bathed in the brilliant late summer sun and the glow of wealth. It was the annual get together of a group of America's most powerful investment professionals who sit down once a year to take the world's pulse. All seemed well in the House of Mammon this year. As the group's newsletter put it, "Last year, the group was especially bullish about the prospects for the the U.S. financial market." The editor cheerfully described one positive report after another from every corner of the globe. But the editor reported that as the conversation neared its end, a discordant note crept in. Someone raised the subject of America's illegitimate birthrate. Illegitimate births are "a deep problem," the editor wrote, one that can't be "solved simply by throwing money at it." The bankers realized America's social predicament was worsening, and could eventually lead to the unraveling of our social fabric. But as they sipped their drinks, no one could figure out what to do about it. The newsletter ends on a despairing note. The author asks, "Has our society reached a point of amorality where people only do the right thing because they are forced by some branch of government?" Well, the bankers were dead-on in their observations about the unraveling of our society. But they were wrong in their estimation of its causes. America is not the victim of "amorality." What, after all, is amoral about having children out of wedlock? That's an immoral act, not an amoral one. People who bear children out of wedlock are flaunting a moral code built upon religious truth. America didn't reach this juncture by accident. A generation ago, we thought we knew how to build a better Eden. We called it "The Great Society." This utopian vision was designed by our best and brightest, people just like these powerful Wall Street tycoons who sought to rebuild man in their own image. One whose character could be formed by the generous application of carrots and sticks. Unwavering adherents to Judeo-Christian truth warned that we would have to pay for driving God and religious truth out of American life. But the cultural elites scorned those folks as uneducated, backwards, fundamentalists ranters. Well, as the masters of Wall Street recognized on that summer day in the Hamptons, the ranters were right. Instead of a better Eden we have built a world of misery and pain. Those bankers are painfully learning what Jesus taught 2,000 years ago: What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? There's a lesson we need to share with our neighbors. For if the soul of the nation is sick, wealth and technology are so much wood, hay and stubble.


Chuck Colson


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