Yes and no

According to the pope, quoted in the Times, the world financial system is built on sand.

Pope Benedict XVI today said that the global credit crisis shows that the world’s financial systems are “built on sand” and that only the works of God have “solid reality

Well, yes, to the first bit. The “house built on sand” story seems metaphorically appropriate. (About which I can remember little more, from the time when my religious education teacher tried to explain – to a room full of architecturally ignorant 12 year-old girls – why building on sand wasn’t a good idea.)

Granted, the world financial system is pretty much a con trick, with imaginary gains and losses that have only an accidental relationship to the production and distribution of goods. And the whole system can collapse as easily as a building with no foundations.

But, talk about a non sequitor. The world financial system is built on myths, so this other myth must be true….What? Nonsense.

He added: ”We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God’s words are a solid reality”.

Let’s ignore for one minute that the Catholic Church itself isn’t exactly destitute, and assume that the Pope maintains a state of religious poverty.

I abhor the worship of money as much as I abhor the worship of gods. However, there is a big difference between greed and need. And many things that “appear to be real” about access to money are “primary”.

Access to food, housing, healthcare, water, clothing.

Try doing without these for a while. A few days is all you’ll manage without water, but you’d barely survive a few weeks without the others, either. (Although large swathes of the world’s population seem to have to pull off this trick every day.)

Try doing without the “word of god”. Hmm. Not too difficult, that one. You can probably keep going like that for, oh, I don’t know, a human lifespan, say.

3 thoughts on “Yes and no

  1. I’ve always liked to counter that house analogy with the need for flexibility. A hard wind can topple what looked like the strongest, biggest tree yet the narrow supple one that bends and yields to the forces around it remains rooted. I’d be tempted to say that our obsession with the current monetary value system also contributes to the problem.

    Not that I’d have a solution for that. I don’t honestly understand the mechanics that drive the economic system, but I think there should be something better than some companies hoarding goods to keep prices high and supplies low, and others flooding the markets with cheap, but inferior goods, and locking the profits away so they only benefit a select few.

    “Only God’s words are a solid reality” — This puts me in mind of those moments when Wile E. Coyote’s just run off a cliff and that little to-the-camera moment when the reality of gravity re-asserts itself. I would think the words are only as solid as the belief in them. There may come a day when the believers of those words fall, too.

  2. A friend of mine pointed out the brilliant irony on the BBC’s version of him saying ‘the pursuit of money and success is pointless’ while pictured holding a solid gold staff.

    SELL IT AND GIVE THE MONEY TO THE POOR. Then you can preach.

Comments are closed.