Has Wall street become a four-letter word?
Has Wall Street become a four-letter word? The headline for Jeff Cox’s report on CNBC’s home page earlier this week caught my eye: “As Bailout Looms, Fear is Market’s Biggest Problem.” His piece opened with these words: “The government rescue plan may help cure some of the ills that are afflicting the banking industry, but it’s unlikely to remedy Wall Street’s greatest malady right now: fear. . . . ‘People are confused and they are scared. Baby boomers are remembering what their parents told them about the Depression and they’re afraid they’ll be next,’ says Kathy Boyle, president of Chapin Hill Advisors in New York. ‘Everybody’s worried about their money, everybody’s worried about their future, everybody’s worried about whether their retirement is safe.’” (http://www.cnbc.com/id/26942317/) Just four letters long, but how iron-fisted its grip: f-e-a-r. Unfortunately, however, the alphabet soup of this nation’s and world’s financial crisis is about more than fear. Truth be told, that four-letter word is the byproduct of a five-letter word: g-r-e-e-d. Nearly to a man and woman, commentators have recognized that what has driven us to the brink of this credit market crisis has been the wanton scramble for fees, pay-backs and quick profits from the credit industry’s calculated generation of toxic subprime “wink and nod” mortgages, sold to gullible first-time buyers, who played the same silly game by inflating their own financial worth in hope of acquiring that coveted “American dream,” their own home. Thus we all have been led straight into the lair of this six-letter reality: c-r-i-s-i-s. Let this crisis go on long enough and we shall eventually reap its baleful seven-letter harvest: d-e-s-p-a-i-r. And that is the stuff of our grandparents’ once-upon-a-time Great Depression sagas. But enough of this toxic alphabet soup. For in an ancient prediction Jesus made are both the poison and the remedy. He prophesied the toxin in the human stream just before his return: “‘People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world.’” But as quick as his prediction comes his promise: “‘Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’” (Luke 21:26, 28 NRSV). For the toxin of fear Christ offers the promise of hope—two poles-apart four letter words. We’ve been getting plenty of the first through the news media of late. Isn’t it the right time that we imbibe on hope instead? Hope in Bernacke, Paulson, Bush, McCain and Obama? No. Hope and confidence in this same Jesus who promised that in an unraveling world of fear we would find the compelling sign of his soon return. And who better to be looking for than the Savior who wrote the alphabet of hope in the first place!