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Fixing The Spirit of America

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Victor Davis Hanson talked economy on Friday.  He goes through a litany of problems and attempted fixes and then writes:

In short, something has gone fundamentally wrong with the U.S. economy.

So, what to do?  Well, Hanson has a good economic prescription, but when you talk about things being “fundamentally” wrong, you have to ask about the intangibles as well as the tangibles.  When he discusses how cheap money is and how low the cost of energy – factors that can usually buoy an economy over pretty liberal policy – one has to wonder.  There is something else missing.  People need confidence to borrow money.  They need hope and vision to put the money they borrow to good use.  Confidence, hope, vision – these are things policy can at best encourage, but it cannot produce.  People must have the seeds of these things in them or no policy will help.

One could argue that the overbearing nature of the Obama administration strangles vision, and you’d have a point.  It does feel like any innovation will be quickly surrounded by regulatory burden, but still it seems like something deeper is at play.  Good innovation has overcome such obstacles in the past.  One could argue that the “helicopter parenting” so prevalent these days has made a generation so risk averse that they would rather live in their parent’s basement than buy a home.  But really helicopter parenting is a phenomena limited to the middle and upper-middle class.  All it does is create opportunities for others to take the risk and do better – but they are not taking advantage.

Yes, we need to improve policy, but something is broken in the spirit of the nation.   We need the seeds of vision, hope and confidence.  Until we fix that, better policy can only accomplish so much.

For a little over 100 years, the church as sung a hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” in which we implore God to be everything to us.  Do we mean that?  If we lack vision is it because we are unplugged from the source of vision?  Here’s the thing about economic vision – it only takes one person with the vision to create a whole industry with countless jobs.  This is not something that has to take hold in the whole nation to be effective.  One person with a vision, one person plugged into the source of vision, can change everything.  God is the seed of vision.

Hope is like a chain, if we hope, then people can hope in us and with us.  Our hope comes from a special place not of this world.  Says King David in Psalm 62:

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

If we of the church are without hope, then we need to “wait in silence for God only.”  If we wait for God, He will give us hope and those around us will be hopeful because they will see the hope in us.  God is the seed of hope.

Confidence is a contagious thing.  Never has there been a time when everybody in the nation was confident.  But when enough of the people are confident or a few of the people are really confident, the national mood seems to reflect confidence.

In Psalm 27, King David says:

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

We should be confident because our confidence is in God.  I wonder if we really only ask one thing of God? – I wonder if all we really desire of life is to dwell in the house of the Lord?  I know I usually want God to come live in my house and spruce it up a bit, but move to His place and drop my agenda?  That’s a pretty tall order.  And yet when I read things like Victor Davis Hanson’s piece I cannot help but think that it is what we are called to do.  God is the seed of confidence.

Yes, our views on very important things are in the descendant.  Yes, Christian institutions are beleaguered by regulation and beset by the PC police.  Yes, the “nones” are rising.  But we cannot let any of that, and so much more, stand in our way.  We have the seeds – they are God’s and they are therefore plentiful.

In the words of David, “Yet I WILL be confident”


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