Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grace...

This is a BIG word for us. All of us in our Western culture. Protestants and Catholics, scientists, and unbelievers even cannot escape the effects of this word.
A few introductory words : I am not... Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, Christian, atheist... I do not fit into any of those labels, so what you are going to hear here is not proselytizing in any classical meaning of the word.
This word TIES IN DIRECTLY to Econosophy, even if the link may escape you at first.
ANY economy, in order for it to work FOR US, and not AGAINST us, MUST come to terms with this word. Because, grace, for our ancestors, for centuries was really... the SUPREME VALUE of life.
So, let's get going. Obviously I'm not going to finish what I start here. At the end there will still be lots to say about this subject, which I will come back to regularly...
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During my last spiritual crisis I finally realized that I desperately needed something to get out of bed in the morning for. Something that would enable me to go through the repetitive, unexciting daily routine, fixing meals twice a day, doing housework, all that stuff that NOBODY ever gets a medal for, or even recognition, but that STILL has to be done... (and you don't get paid for THAT, do you, now ?)
I needed something to believe in.
(Look at that word... and now look at the word... FIAT (money)... Do you see any resemblance ?) (Fiat means trust, faith...)
I discovered that only IF and WHEN I could believe in something that I could devote myself to COMPLETELY (hmm... think a minute now about that young American of Pakistani origin who planted the bomb at JFK airport. Think about what his act said about HIS need to believe.), I would be able to FREELY get out of bed every morning and go through the routine.
The ability to engage our belief liberates GRACE for us. Grace and faith are NOT the same thing, but they are related. I'm not sure exactly how, yet, I am still discovering this.
Some people call it the grace of God. i call it the grace of God, for many extremely complicated reasons that would encumber this post right now, and that can be set aside temporarily.
Grace is the lubricant that gets the ball rolling. It is the grease in the economy that works... a hell of a lot better than oil, you know, whose disastrous effects are evident in the Gulf of Mexico right now.
Grace is the lubricant that makes investment work, and it is responsible for producing the exponential effects involved. (I will come back to this in later posts.)
Oil is NOT grace, even if it translates into ENERGY that has kept us carburating, as we say in France. It has kept us.. RUNNING, this oil, for too long now.
But... it really is NO substitute for grace. And these days, as it RUNS OUT (as all material energy MUST, in the long run), it has got us scrambling for another substitute.
Next very important question... WHO is grace for, and how do you get it ?
Our Catholic ancestors believed that you could... BUY grace. Not really with money, of course. But by DOING good works. By being a good, Christian person. By spending good.. CHRISTIAN money too. Like a... transaction. It works like this.. "you DO this, and... you GET grace.. IN EXCHANGE".
Our Protestant ancestors said... no way. Grace couldn't be BOUGHT. It isn't FOR SALE (for money or anything else..).
But then they went on to say that GOD had decided WHO got grace and who didn't. He decided it once and for all. Grace was predestined. You either had it or you didn't, and more importantly, the only PROOF that existed as to the existence of grace was material success, wealth, status, etc. All extremely WORLDLY things, you will grant me.
Whence the expression... "there but for the grace of God go I", in my book a really disgusting formulation that is designed to make SOME people feel really good about themselves AT THE EXPENSE (!!!!) of others. This belief is still with us ; it is all around us, in fact, even though most of us are woefully ignorant about where it came from.
But.. the really good news is that... grace is free.
Now.... it's not free like the samples that you get at the supermarket. Even though... the samples you get at the supermarket are, deep down, a rather DESPERATE ATTEMPT to get reconnected with grace, and what it means. They are a PERVERTED attempt. Perversion means, to turn upside down. That's right. All the "free" junk/stuff you get right now is a way of clutching at grace like a straw.
Grace is SOMETHING that you can't BUY, you can't SELL, you can't EARN, you can't WIN. (And for obvious reasons, you can't STEAL it either...)
What could it be ?
It is something that you RECEIVE.
It is given to you without your having to DO or BE anything or anyone.
And... it is for EVERYONE. (It is truly... democratic.)
The poor. The rich. The fine upstanding citizens. The junkies. The prostitutes. The... torturers. The... pedophiles.
You heard me. Grace is for... EVERYONE.
Everyone who... wants it, or asks for it, sincerely.
And when YOU ask for it, the ball gets rolling.
There is NOTHING YOU CAN DO OR BE to get it.
But it is there for you.
Can you see how this issue is really important for our understanding the economy ?
If grace gets the ball rolling, then WITHOUT it... the ball DOES NOT ROLL.
And that is where we are right now.
We are trying desperately to push the ball around through our own INDIVIDUAL efforts.
Logically. Rationally. Methodically.
And... it's NOT WORKING.
It will NOT work this way. (And moreover, we are despairing in our recognition that it WILL NOT work this way...)
Time to.. go back in time and take a look at where we took a wrong turn.
We CAN find the meaning of grace again.
But... we gotta start looking.
I, for one, am lucky. I got curious, and went looking in my Christian heritage to discover how our ancestors have framed this problem.. And.. I have asked for grace. It's hard to put oneself on the receiving end in our culture, but it CAN be done.
I think I will conclude this way : money can ONLY mean something to us when there is SOMETHING out there that can't be bought with it.
Something like.. GRACE, you know ?
Grace is truly... PRICELESS...




2 comments:

Toby said...

Just don't get me started on Jeff Buckley! ;-)

Because my wife is half-Philippino I spend a lot of time in the Philippines, and even more time amongst Philippinos. They are a very generous people, especially with family and friends. You have to fight to pay for a meal or taxi, or whatever. Once I insisted on paying a taxi fare, and had to use the argument that generosity is often letting people give you something, otherwise my hostess would have paid. Your idea, Debbie, of grace being something we receive, reminds me of this.

Another example that struck me: In the film Steel Magnolias (yes, I watch chick flix) Julia Roberts is having her hair done when she suddenly collapses into an epileptic fit. From calm, confident and in control, she is suddenly writhing around on the floor, ugly, and totally dependent on those around her. Moments later, when she has recovered, she is again calm and attractive, and back in easy control. This total faith and dependence on others strikes me as a kind of grace too, that there is a strange strength in accepting one's own weakness. This idea played a small role in my blog post on the myth of individuality.

So yes, very interesting, grace as a received thing, as faith — almost — in the Greater Than I out there. The ego hates that, but the ego is very bad at grace.

I think, though, that grace also arises from within as we create, if we are creating (dance, poetry, singing, whatever) totally immersed in the process of creating. So again, there is this sense of yielding control to something greater, though this "ability" is no spontaneous thing, I suspect. Jeff Buckley was not the musician he was solely because he was totally immersed in the performance/music. He was also extremely skilled. For this type of grace to "emerge", skill must give it voice. Ego must be involved as conduit, as other egos are necessary to observe it, witness it, and appreciate it.

Getting from grace to economics and money (fiat or not), on the other hand, is the challenge of a lifetime... Over to you, Debbie!

Debra said...

Hey Toby, talk about a miracle here ;-), I KNOW Jeff Buckley. I think. The musician, right ? Actually... if you like Jeff Buckley, check out his dad, Tim. Another great artist, who died too young, depriving us of his presence.
Amazing...
We are on a common wavelength, definitely.
That is really great. Really.