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What chain letters, many multi-level marketers and pyramid schemes have in common is this. They appeal to greed. It is the theology of Wall Street. In that film, Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gecko delivers this speech,
“…greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit… …and greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save (this company), but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”
The problem is, though that philosophy is popular, and even pervasive, it is fundamentally false. Greed leads to incredible evil. “Wall Street” was prophetic.
Ivan Boesky, David Brace and Faith Metro Church in Wichita, ENRON, EXXON, AIG, WORLDCOM, HALLIBURTON, MORGAN STANLEY - you fill in the names of the companies and individuals who have been indicted.
On the other side of the theological equation is the Gospel, as practiced by Jesus and circulated in a different kind of chain letter by the Apostle Paul.
Two thirds of the New Testament comes from him, from his Missionary Journeys and his, for lack of a better phrase, “Letters and Papers from prison.” His letters, which we count as Biblical truth, circulated from prison. They changed the world and the people in it. He wrote to places like Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome. I have been there.
“Pray for me,” he wrote from prison, “so that when I speak, I may make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.”
And he did make the Gospel known, sometimes at great cost. He was imprisoned multiple times for his witness to Christ -- in Jerusalem, Caesarea Philippi, in Rome, under house arrest and then again in Rome at his death.
In the movie, A Knight’s Tale, the main character William Thatcher and his friends are starving. William is a gifted jouster, and has potential to make enough money jousting to feed everyone, but he is not of noble blood. Only nobility is allowed to joust competitively. The team of friends creates fake papers for him, and he begins to joust successfully. After some time though, his fake papers are exposed, and William is put in the stocks for impersonating nobility. The scene shows his four loyal companions warding off an angry mob in the streets to protect him. Suddenly and from no where the prince reveals himself by throwing off the cloak he had been using to disguise himself, and the crowd goes silent as he approaches William. What the prince says to William shows deep insight into the philosophy of tru...
John Donne was an English cleric and poet of exceeding intellect who lived his adult life in the early 1600’s. King James I appointed him the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. But in 1623 he became ill and felt he was dying of the plague, which was taking so many lives at that time. While convalescing, he wrote his book Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. It was a book about his struggle with death and human relationships. Interestingly, a Broadway play was written based on Donne’s works. Margaret Edson, a kindergarten teacher, received a Pulitzer Prize for the play she entitled Wit. Later on, HBO released a movie version of it, starring Emma Thompson. It is a moving film about Vivian Bearing, a literary scholar who specialized in the works of John Donne. Suddenly, however, she discovers that she, like Donne, is struggling with a life-threatening illness. The film is a personal journal of her struggle with cancer and death, and how she faces it with biting humor and amazing wit. In a very moving closing scene, she is visited by her old literature professor, Dr. E. M. Ashford. Dr. Ashford is on her way to her grandson’s birthday party, but stops by the hospital to see her former student. Vivian is in the throes of death, and in need of human warmth and compassion. Instead of remaining distant, her old professor takes off her shoes, laid down next to her in the bed and put her arms around her. She inquires if Vivian would like her to recite something, and asks if she would like to hear something from John Donne. Vivian shakes her head, “No.” So Dr. Ashford pulls from her bag a book she had bought for her grandson’s birthday. She starts to read from Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s book The Runaway Bunny. She begins reading softly, “Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, ‘I am running away.’ ‘If you run away,’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.’ ‘If you run after me,’ said the...