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As many of you know, we are contacting our listeners as well as old friends and guests of the show to ask them a fairly specific set of questions about the economic crisis that continues to rock us day to day, as we wait for a new administration in the White House, new solutions, and for the next shoe to drop. These questions are simple, but they’re also big: “Do you see this as a spiritual and moral crisis?” “Where are you looking now for leadership, for guidance?”

I spoke to Martin Marty, the acclaimed historian and Christian theologian. He’s retired, though honestly he is the busiest retired person I know. But being retired, the recent market chaos is a very real concern for him, and, in this brief conversation, he shares a good deal of his ”lived theology” — the personal, daily acts of faith that preserve sanity and restore trust even at the most uncertain times. The unpretentious wisdom he shares is such a great example of real-life, grounded piety; it gives me hope.

Stay tuned for more coverage on the radio as well. We just completed a fabulous interview with the Quaker educator Parker Palmer on the crisis and how to find our way forward, which will be broadcast in December. Check back here at SOF Observed for similar conversations with medical researcher Dr. Esther Sternberg and international business consultant Prabhu Guptara in the near future.

Also, we’re looking to our readers and listeners for fresh thinking and language about how to talk about the current economic crisis. How has this changed you, your family, your community? And not just financially, but in terms of personal conscience and values? We’d like to hear from you. Tell us your first person story about your experiences.

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Thank you for this wonderful interview!

Dr. Marty makes a comment early on about the words "judgment" and "crisis" having the same root...or something to that effect. Does anyone know more about that?

His remarks on greed are very helpful. In Buddhist practice, there are antidotes "prescribed" to counter unskillful tendencies such as greed, and one of those antidotes is generosity. In the spirit of generosity, I'd like to share this wonderful project, which I just came across today: the 29-Day Giving Challenge (www.29gifts.org). I have no affiliation with the project, except as a newly-signed-on participant.

For the production/web staff of SOF, it would be helpful to know how long these interviews are so that listeners can budget their time for listening. :-)

Thanks Jennifer--good suggestion about posting the length. We wanted to keep these things manageably short (under 20 minutes) while still allowing time to dive deep. This one was about 15 minutes long. Did that seem like an ok length? Would you prefer shorter? Just curious.


Hi, Kate,

Yes, the length of this interview was fine for me. I'm happy for longer ones, too. Sometimes I just split them up into two listening sessions. Hard, perhaps, to get a lot of substance in less than 20 minutes? Many thanks for the wonderful work!


I found the notion of this particular blog fascinating: the topic has been on my mind.

Since watching the movie *I.O.U.S.A.*, as well as reading *Empire of Debt,* it is fair to say I have found myself transformed. I paid no/little attention to the economy before this, and now I realize I, and we, must live differently -- on the personal level and on the social level...all social levels. We can no longer continue to expand our debt, whether for war or for domestic programs. It is simply unconscionable.

As a "liberal," I must re-examine how we act: creating a new program or a new agency just can't be our modus operandi any more. I don't have answers, yet; but I know we must--each of us think what it means.

I live in an area where there are many homeless. I realize I can't just assume there are programs to help, while I from time to time give the individuals I see $1, $2, or $20. It has occurred to me to talk with one of those I know by name and say something like this--"You can count on me for $10 each week; since we each must do something these days, you do something that helps others for that $10. It may be picking up paper, helping someone cross the street, listening to someone who needs to talk. You don't need to tell me what it is. Just do something."

We must take care of each other in new ways. And we must not only save but we must also address the ... what...at least $8 trillion debt. It demands each one of us--Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, whatever the labels--think and then live differently.

You are making the bridge between two people who are sharing the same place and are separated by different dimensions. Instead of seeing darkness, you are seeing light in these people. Your material help with the money is just a metaphor of the spiritual change both of you are experiencing. Do you have that impresion of well being? I guess yes. Does the homeless person has that impression of well being? I guess yes. I have it too. Thanks for sharing that with others.

What is coming then is an evident spiritual transformation that will change our present dimensions, and is already giving - to those who are ready to feel it - an impression of well being.

I have noticed, more than post 9/11 that more people are attending worship and I believe it has to do with the questions they are beginning to ponder in their minds about recent economic events. The issue of money is an overriding issue in my family. It seems to be an anxiety binder upon which we focus, instead of thinking about how we connect meaningfully with one another. So, recent economic events rev up that anxiety in my family. I believe that the hopes and dreams for my future have been squelched since the amounts that were on paper in my investments and pension is reduced so drastically. That has caused me to think about today and what is important in my life right now, and live that out rather than getting very invested in my economic dreams for tomorrow.

This program reminded me the response of the church in Latin America to the poor pre-liberation theology. A Buddhist telling me that life is suffering. How different is that from a priest telling a campesino to bear his cross with nobility. It lets an economic system that caused this crisis go unchallenged. There was no discussion of social sin as in critical theology. No mention that perhaps unregulated free-market capitalism not only will never care for the environment, it doesn't do such a good job taking care of humans either. No discussion of social sin, structural sin, economic systems that are destructive, therefore evil. Instead psychotherapeutical solutions where the person is considered as an individual separate from the economic context. Do people need "stress reduction strategies"? I think they need jobs. We as people of faith and charity and justice have to be clear enough in our economic critique to work for changing capitalism to a more humane system. Along with more "virtue," more critical theology.