Stepping out of the Infinite Loop

Posted by David

One aspect of economics that I’ve been mulling over recently is why the dollar is accepted so widely throughout the world. Why does the world still accept it as the reserve currency despite the fact that we really don’t produce much and we don’t provide much of real importance to the rest of the world. Generally speaking, the United States has abandoned its manufacturing and export-based economy in favor of what some refer to as a FIRE economy (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate). Why do so many nations support that sort of economy which is arguably parasitic to the rest of the world?

I’m coming to believe that economic success of a nation has less to do with raw goods and services it produces and more to do with power or the perception of power it produces. And in our days it has much to do with The Bomb. The only thing that props us up is the power that the world perceives us to have. It’s just like football. People want to root for the winning team. No one wants to back a loser. And even if they do, they still want them to win. The United States is the hulky team, bulked out on atomic steroids and the rest of the world knows it.

No longer does our country produce the atomic propaganda of the 50’s “duck and cover” sort of stuff, but nuclear weapons are still a deep part of most everyone’s subconscious mind. When we went to war with Iraq, probably the most successful argument was that Saddam had The Bomb.

Just the other week, we were studying the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-34 and we were charged to consider the things throughout the week that most worry us on a day-to-day basis. (This particular section of Jesus’ sermon is about not worrying.) I thought and prayed about the things I worry about. I don’t really consider myself a very anxious person. I don’t really care about locking doors. I expect that my kids will grow up just fine. I’m happily married. My parents are just fine. What’s to worry about? (Honestly, my biggest conscious worry is a bit narcissistic, which is sad, but true.)

However, toward the end of that week I had an intense dream. I was in Seattle at night walking along when there was a great flash and from beneath the buildings, I could feel the wind start up pulling what looked like fierce rain horizontally above the buildings across the city skyline, which was actually debris being pulled into the firestorm of a nearby nuclear blast.

What was remarkable was my reaction to it all. I thought to myself, “Well, I can’t believe they actually did it. They actually started setting off The Bombs.” I wasn’t really worried at all. It was just a matter of fact. “And now it’s time to start picking up the pieces,” was my next thought. I woke up shortly after that. It was certainly a vivid dream, one that wakes one up due to intensity. Was this the answer to our Sunday school homework? Is this what I worry about?

I expect that most people my age and older have this same deep-seated fear.

But there’s really nothing to worry about. The Bomb is in many ways the final archetype of fear. The Bomb may very well be the final manifestation of fear on the planet. It surpasses earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, rape and even war. It is all those and more: pure violence, physical, mental and emotional assault.

But should we really worry about it? No, never.

The human will and the human soul are controlled by fear. Our sin uses fear to control us and make us become powerlusting souls and aggregately power-hungry nations. Fear forces us to spend time fortifying rather than loving others. Fear leads us down the path of self-serving rather than self-sacrifice. Fear makes us point at them rather than ourselves, when the only thing truly to fear is the one God that can send us to hell.

Just before the “Do not worry” section, Jesus states, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

The “eye” of which he speaks is our focus—those things upon which we dwell. If we dwell on The Bomb in our deepest recesses, how great is that darkness. If we dwell on power, how great is that darkness. If we dwell on ourselves, how great is that darkness. In computer terms dwelling on oneself would be the same as an infinite loop, which always crashes a script.

As difficult as it is to do, focus the eye on those things that are marvelous and true. We must not waste our time worrying about those things that might happen. This is probably the most important thing that I have learned so far in my life. Implementation is essential. It takes practice and cannot be done without the work of Jesus in our life. Step out of that infinite loop of darkness.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

– Philippians 4:8

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4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Consciousness, society, war

4 responses to “Stepping out of the Infinite Loop

  1. u doran

    A well wrirren shrink was adamant that the secret to happiness was the ability to maintain ones illusions in the face of any reality.
    I have seen that confirmesd quite well.

  2. Ferdinand

    Well said and even better timed. We all can use the reminding. I am in the same place with my devotions, but unlike you, I tend to worry a lot. Put down my cares and before I know it I’ve picked them up again.

  3. s jay

    A wonderful suggestion, inspiring. Since I agree with your conclusions, the following may seem out of place, but I can’t help myself. Where did the meme arise, now so widespread so as to be taken as fact, that the elements of the FIRE economy are parasitic and produce nothing? The structures and services provided by the FIRE economy are extremely productive. The assumption that they aren’t leads to the types of questions you ask, like, why would the world support a bunch of parasites? The inference required by the meme, i.e., that everyone, on average, in the world, is, uh, very stupid…doesn’t seem plausible. So you come up with an explanation involving the Bomb. An equally plausible explanation is…the US is indeed producing much of value. Does your essay, which by similar reasoning, could be said to have produced nothing, have any value? I feel strongly that it does, despite the fact that no raw materials were transformed by your sharing of your inner thoughts.

  4. s jay,

    One of my problems is that I feel more a part of an old world that I feel has been hijacked by a ‘new’ world. Now I know that the old world for which I long, never really did exist and if it does, it does only in a ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ sort of way, which is, was and will be fully entered one day. It’s the idea of sehnsucht C.S. Lewis wrote about. I live that life.

    And in my work (I’m a web application developer) I never really feel that I’m producing anything of any real significance. My work isn’t all that different from what the FIRE economy produces. So I look at what others do and I feel similarly about their work as I do about mine. Either no offense or complete offense should be taken, because I feel that 90% of what humans tend to do is action based upon the sin nature. However, I don’t want to feed hopelessness in our vocational choices, because there are certainly instances in which we touch something greater and noble, however seemingly unimportant our work may seem at times. In fact, there are instances, daily, which allow us to take part in that which is completely useful and mostly it has to do with our interactions with other. Rather than spewing forth insult or furthering others’ pain, instead we provide love in our words or in our deeds, then we are doing very useful and noble work.

    But as strange as it may sound, I feel most at home when I’m not behind a keyboard, but am digging up carrots or pulling mussels off rocks and eating them raw by the seashore. But although my fantasy of a simple life is an illusion, it also speaks to me of greater things to come.

    So, you’re right, s jay, in even what I might consider the most parasitic of all vocations, there are hints of the marvelous. And likewise, one could go one’s entire life doing something seemingly productive and never see beyond one’s own eyes.

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