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an occasional newsletter of the Nanty Glo Home Page                           February 1 2001

Wealth from poverty; poverty from wealth

It seems to be easier to discuss the economy in general than one's own economics, but it's gratifying that the discussion has been generating good response.

While we may have gone through some hard times and some still are doing so, I often think how "rich" our generation is compared with most that preceded us. No king or potentate who lived from the beginning of history through the 19th century had as much ease or as many amenities as we in modern times. Though flush commodes may have existed in Ancient Roman times, most European castles built prior to this era had something closer to the outhouses most of us over age 50 remember. None of those castles or palaces had central heating, much less thermostats.

We in the Northern European world are accustomed to thinking that progress is unending and generally good, or at least benign. However, some groups of thinkers question these premises for varied reasons, ranging from conservation of resources to greater dependence on faith and relationships with God and fellow human beings. Long before I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, I greatly admired the writing of Alexander Solzhenitzin, but the one discontinuity between his work and my comprehension was around this point. He emphasized valuing simplicity more than technological complexity, and transcending the value of unending "progress." Such thinking struck me as retrograde, counter-productive, counter-intuitive, and pointless.

But after years of reading Orthodox writers, I've caught at least a glimpse of what they're trying to say. I've come to understand that suffering, including deprivation in worldly goods, can contribute to our salvation not only by the fact that when we lose everything we can still cling to God, but because when we're not distracted by "things" we can find refuge in meditation, reading, prayer and praise. Sociologists have discerned a correlation between difficulty of life and faith, ease of life and relative faithlessness. When the life span was shorter, people had less time to prepare for the afterlife and gave it more consideration; worked at it harder and faster. When an earthquake struck the part of the world I live in in 1989, even the most cynical journalists found themselves writing about people's quest for God and looking for security less in temporal things like houses and other possessions, realizing the transitory character of all possessions.

Any thoughts?

Exquisite taste

A wealthy playboy met a beautiful young girl in an exclusive lounge. He took her to his lavish apartment, where he soon discovered she was actually well groomed and apparently very intelligent. Hoping to get intimate with her, he began showing her his collection of expensive paintings, first editions by famous authors, and offered her a glass of wine.

He asked whether she preferred Port or Sherry and she said, "Oh, Sherry, by all means. To me, it's the nectar of the gods. Just looking at it in a crystal clear decanter fills me with a glorious sense of anticipation. When the stopper is removed and the gorgeous liquid is poured into my glass, I inhale the enchanting aroma, and I'm lifted on the wings of ecstasy. It seems as though I'm about to drink a magic potion and my whole being begins to glow. The sound of a thousand violins being softly played fills my ears and I'm transported into another world.

"On the other hand," she continued, "Port gives me gas."

Sent by Mike Harrison

God loves the little children

When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.

When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.

When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm so I sit self-consciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own.

When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk. My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.

When I pray, I say "thee" and "thou" and "grant me this, give me that." My kids say, "Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mommy and Daddy."

When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and clothes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross, and worms to play with.

I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from?


Sent by "Marmy"

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