Friday, 19 September 2008

Financial Armageddon

This week I felt I gained an insight into how the BBC will report Armageddon.

Poor old Robert Preston.

With banks disappearing and the stock market in free fall, there was a sense that ‘The End of the World Is Nigh.’


It’s a subject I’ll be looking at in my sermon tomorrow, but for these words I want to share this thought.


I do not believe we are pre-occupied with finance because it affords us happiness. Indeed poll after poll suggests that there is no great equation between riches and happiness.

Rather I wonder if the great attraction of money is that it is so easily quantifiable. When we turn our focus to things financial we can know how well we are doing. Life, in the financial realm, is about the bottom line. Money gives us something to keep track of. The Footsie is up, the dollar is down, and we consume these figures to the second decimal place.

Indeed the measurability of the world of finance penetrates every level of the financial culture of our age. We live in a world where the temptation is to measure one’s worth in terms of bonuses and wage packets. This is deeply dangerous.


The Rosh Hashanah season (beckoning with ever-increasing urgency) challenges us to find other ways to measure the successes and failures of our lives. The scales of success and failure we are asked to self-evaluate on Rosh Hashanah resist the quantification of the world of finance.

How much love did we share?

How many lies did we tell?

How many lives did we better?

How many decent people did we hurt?

These questions evade simple measurement and, in a world where the quantifiable question tempts us so much more than the impossible-to-measure, the temptation is simply not to bother with questions that don’t have easy answers.

My plea is that we allow our internal accountant-of-the-soul the space and the opportunity to engage seriously with these more important questions; for this is truly how to measure the value of a life.


Shabbat Shalom

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