Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kool-Aid for All

This is one of those entries that started as a comment-reply and grew beyond its banks like the Red River.

I've been thinking about what got our country into such a mess. I've read several interesting articles about the rise and fall of the sub-prime mortgage (and more importantly of the sub-prime mortgage-backed security) and I've found them useful. My husband is a great source of information as his market-color has come to be read and praised by traders all over the country. (Sorry to embarrass you honey, but it's true.) So, I feel that I'm probably more educated on the matter than the average aspiring English professor. Which is to say, not very. Nevertheless, I think the media has taken a complex soul-issue and boiled it down to WALL STREET VERSUS MAIN STREET binary with a great color graphic and a few choice soundbites.

What we have here is not as much a tale of corporate greed and Wall Street traders gone amok (Because corporations and Wall Street traders have always been greedy. Seriously, that's their JOB.) as it is a tale of the average American and his and her feelings of insecurity and entitlement. What we have here is a bad case of use-my-house-as-a-piggy-bank to fund the lifestyle I can't afford. People got ARMs without considering what would happen if their rates reset before they got better jobs and used their HELOCs to fund their vacations. And it doesn't take an economist to deduce that when you spend money you don't have in the hopes that an investment you made will pay off at a rate of 20%, you run into trouble. And then, when the real estate market Fairy Godmother didn't come through, these people felt owed something. By the government, by the Wall Street folks who thought up those crappy securities, and by those people who paid their mortgages and didn't try and go to the Bahamas on HELOC money. This is overly simple, and David is probably going to find all kinds of problems with it. Maybe I'll let him amend and correct.

But my point, and the really sad thing about all of this is that people all over the country are busting their guts to make an extra $30K on their houses. They're pulling teeth (sometimes each other's) over that extra $300 a month they got from their ARMs that they needed so desperately to construct the veil of prosperity over a false face of debt. And don't get me wrong, $30K is a lot of money to me, too. A LOT of money. But I'm thinking, even as our little cottage is on the market, about the value of an extra bedroom and an extra 300 square feet. And you know, the conclusion I come to is that it just doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter at all.

What does seem to matter to me increasingly are the sweet faces of my children (the tiny little baby who I've seen only once and the little bigger baby) and my husband. What matters to me is that spring is here and summer is coming and my roses are blooming. I care that the broad fields spread out along the banks of the Tennessee River are plowed and black and ready to plant. I remember seeing acres of dead corn because of the drought, but God sent the rain and this summer there will be corn and tomatoes and peaches and okra and watermelon for everyone. And this is important to me.

I care that my parents are strong and in their right minds. I care that my nieces and nephews are all growing up in to the people God made them to be. I care that my priest notices when I don't come to church and writes to ask how I am. I care that Jesus has called me by my name.

It matters that when my head hits the pillow, I sleep with a clear conscience. It matters to me that when my baby is hungry, I have enough for her to eat and when she is dirty, I have clean water in which to wash her.

And what does it matter in the end if you or someone else judges me by what I have or don't have? I have everything. So, I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time trying to impress those people who I don't really like anyway. I'm not going to talk about whose house sold for what and how mad I am that I didn't get more. I'm not going to lose my temper over money I never really had in the first place. I'm not going to scramble to cover the nakedness of an impoverished soul with clothes I don't like. It's time to loosen the burden of the phony baloney suburban-urban, housewife-corporate wife, spend-the-money-you-don't-have-on-stuff-you-don't-need-to-impress-your-neighbor-who-you-really-hate culture we've grown here. I'm sick to death of it. Literally, to death because it's a pernicious little grub in otherwise fertile ground. If that makes any sense at all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shouldn't we be pissed?

Our President scares me. It's not cool to say, I know. It isn't socially acceptable for me to admit the niggling fear that the leadership of this President might facilitate a more complete embrace of the "Culture of Death" that J.P. II envisioned, but when I heard him make a crack at the Special Olympics on Leno, I had a vision of my country somewhere in the jack-booted future and I thought about my little daughter and the little baby coming in October and I wondered if I would love them less if they had disabilities. And I thought about the mothers who do have disabled children and how the President's comments must have cut to the quick. Our President didn't refrain from cracking jokes at their expense and this is a reason for grief. I don't think that this offhanded comment can be dismissed without frank consideration of what intention it may belie. This is our President speaking in public.

I am afraid that the last vestiges of an American culture that protected and valued the weak are being broken away and we're all too concerned with the Almighty Economy and the Thrill of Expected Change that we aren't noticing. We're being lied to when we're told that many of our methods of birth-control are "safe and effective." We're being lied to when we're told that it is harder to face an unplanned pregnancy than it is to have abortions. We're embracing lies when we don't admit that there are indeed abortionists and pro-choice individuals who really do embrace the radical ideas of eugenics and hierarchies of individual value that fueled the industrial murder of the Third Reich. We understand. We have compassion. But we must admit that many of the little girls marched into abortion clinics are the "weak who have no choice but to submit to the will of the strong" as J.P. said.

I'm not a Republican or even a Conservative, really. But I am a mother, and I can't bear to see the value of these little ones swept away in a tide of misplaced patriotism and the pursuit of some kind of nebulous concept of Change that no one has yet to even define. Christ have mercy on us. We fall off the cliff like lemmings because we fear for how others will perceive us and trust in anything to preserve our money. Human beings haven't evolved some kind of better conscience or moral fiber since 1938. Rest assured.

I will be uncool. I will admit that these are frightening times.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I caution you before you click on the link below, that the story contains some BAD WORDS. I don't approve of BAD WORDS (despite my facility with them) and I try not to use BAD WORDS in my blog because I know that many of you just don't want to read them and I am sincerely trying to cut back. So, click at your own risk, but be prepared to laugh your BAD WORDS off should you proceed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Nibbits

1. I found this article entitled The Qualities of a Godly Woman this afternoon and soon thereafter got a little nauseated. Whether it is because the article is nauseating or because of the condition I'm in, I'll leave you to determine. The only commentary I have right now is that I truly believe the human courtship ritual would be about as lively as tofu if women weren't allowed to wile the objects of their affection just a leetle bit. (Or a lot, actually.) How sad.

2. I don't even have a comment for this article except for that I'm pretty sure the decision to breastfeed or not is still a choice. There are no weaning police at my door, not yet anyway. It's probably a mistake to bemoan the passing of a right that hasn't actually passed. Gah.

3. This article is absolutely fascinating. I can't wait for Lifetime to make a movie. It will be worth getting cable for.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I don't really know if the saints in heaven can see us or not, but I am sure that they intercede for us when they do become aware of what's going on down here. I often ask my grandmother to remember me to Jesus and I think she does. I need her intercession this morning and I also ask St. Anne to remember me as I become aware of how distracted and diffused I have become. It is so easy to listen to all of the voices that speak into the wind. They want to be engaged and entertained, but deep down I know that to engage them is to depart from what I should be doing. (This isn't coming out right at all.) Suffice it to say, I confess. I confess to being too susceptible to the influences of the voices I should ignore and too deaf to the voices I should heed. This Lent season, I pray that Christ will allow me to be offensive when it serves his purpose and quiet when it serves his purpose. And I pray that he will grant me the wisdom to know where to speak and how. I am a finite person with a small capability, but what I have, I rest on him. All other ground really is sinking sand.