Sackcloth and ashes

Here is Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners magazine and a consistent voice on behalf of social justice; and your own faithful blogger, on PBS’s "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," discussing the religious and moral implications of the financial crisis.  The show’s host, Bob Abernethy, also asked us to point the way forward using resources from our religious traditions.  The best, or at least most piquant, quote came from Mr. Wallis, who suggested that as penance any malefacting Wall Street CEOs should be paraded down the Street in "sackcloth and ashes."  That may be letting them too lightly for their foolishness and greed.  Even my Wharton professors might agree with that.

James Martin, SJ

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10 years ago
All the millions of dollars that people have invested in the stock market through their 401K plans is not likely to be pulled out any time soon. Therefore, the alarm that the markets will melt down and we will end up in a depression is false. This bailout is intended to prevent a lifestyle change for those like Paulson who do not know about life outside of their little world. I suspect that in Paulson, we have someone who is only slightly more competent than "Brownie" in that Paulson at least has some direct experience on Wall Street. However, that experience has not given him a broad perspective or deep insight.
10 years ago
Is this from the same America magazine that has published articles emphasizing forgiveness for abusive priests? Just wondering...
10 years ago
''...should be paraded down the Street...'' I know this was said in jest, but you do know the difference between this action and true penitence, I presume. What Mr. Wallis wants to do sounds more like what the Romans did to those they defeated. These guys aren't defeated - they've just collected their severance pay. Not only that, they aren't penitent. Nor need they be; they are simply cogs in in a system. The real penitents are those who know better or say they do. Let Mr. Wallis walk the street in sackcloth and ashes, joined by the Wharton professors who taught business ethics based on the various Pope's related Encyclicals. Oh, I see, they are too busy pondering over whether there are any absolutes in ethics in business. Or in anything else!
10 years ago
How about all the stupid people who thought they could own a house without paying anything to anybody ever? If taxpayers have to bail them out, they should have to parade down Main Street stark naked while all the responsible investors pour trash on them.
10 years ago
This financial mess wasn't created by debt. It wasn't even created by bad debt. It was created by perfectly rational human beings who created bad debt to sell it for a profit.
10 years ago
Today we live under violent forces: exploitation, militarism, over-consumption, the wasting of energy, sexism, anti-gay/lesbianism, racism, etc. If they are understood as the terror exercised by sin, the question becomes how I react to it and what choices do I make. Theologian James Alison tells us that being able make a good choice is often just plain luck because of the world's established structures of sin. Also he tells us that we all partake to at least some extent in the imagination that dominates our society and culture. None of us are outside the social constructions of meaning produced by our own groups, societies and cultures. In New Testament terms, sin is a power which rules over us.

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