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I was raised a Missouri Synod Lutheran, graduated from Valparaiso University (which, thankfully, liberalized my religious ideas), eventually became an active Episcopalian, until I decided that I could no longer vow a Christian oath. I see all religions as informing my understanding of the Universe and my role in it. And I absolutely ache for what fundamentalists have done to corrupt all religions and the actions of their followers. Beliefs that advocate hate, suppression of thought, secrecy, death to sinners and nonbelievers, and unequality are gangs in my view, not religions.

With all that as background, I think financial crises do have the potential to elevate conservative values as "right" and other values (say of a Buddhist point of view) as foolhardy. Lutherans, for example, are very, very big on identifying "the right way" to live your life, make, save, invest, tithe and spend your money. Those who follow are good Christians; those who don't are in trouble spiritually as well as fiscally.

So when I see the debates in Congress about whether to spend or stop spending, I see the positions taken as so much more than political. It is part of one's spiritual beliefs -- whether giving more and living smaller, worrying as much about the planet as the purse -- or jumping into the fiscal bunker -- will inform one's rhetoric.