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Capitalism as the offspring of Western Metaphysics

The crisis is a spiritual one


by the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos fr. Hieronymos Vlachos

 

 

Source: http://www.parembasis.gr/2009/09_03_07.htm

 

 

 

Everyone is recently talking about the 'economic crisis' that has befallen America and Europe and is expected to eventually affect our Homeland and furthermore, that the 'political crisis' is one of its consequences.

No-one can deny that all of mankind - and each one of us personally - is currently plagued by the crisis in the economy, given that it has repercussions on our way of life and our livelihoods.  That is the reason various economists are striving to find solutions to counter it - with economist methods and political means.

And yet, it is my opinion that the crisis we are going through is not simply an economical and political one; in fact, it is a deep-seated spiritual crisis.  I could highlight many aspects of this matter and point out that when a person distances himself from God, he inevitably suffers and is tormented in all areas of his life - including the financial one.  Furthermore, if one were to examine the matter theologically, they would likewise discern that when Man loses the grace of God, inevitably there will be anthropological, social, political and financial problems. However, I will focus here on the practical dimensions of the spiritual crisis.

Let's examine the issue, from the way that a financially 'average' person lives. He tries to live his life the way that the rich do; his personal lifestyle is the pursuit of bliss, and with an excess of entertainment; he strives to become a large-scale merchant, without having the necessary potentials and charismas - all of which result in financial impasses. Then, in his attempt to solve the problem with loans, he collapses financially and occupationally and finally becomes bankrupt.

The same thing is observed in society, but also worldwide. People simply aren't living with self-restraint and prudence any more. They have not learnt to place limits on their sensations and their desires; instead, they pursue a bliss-seeking lifestyle, they overspend in order to satisfy their senses and their desires, they resort to borrowing, even for things like luxury vacations, and the consequences of all of the above are inevitably a financial, occupational, family and personal debacle. 

It is in this sense that we say the crisis in essence is not a financial one, but chiefly and above all a spiritual one, which is the underlying cause of financial and political crises.  This indicates that the current crisis cannot be confronted with financial means and political practices, but only with a change in our lifestyle, by our return to frugality, to self-restraint, to prudence, and by abjuring greed and superfluity.

Ascesis is thus regarded today as an imperative - an attempt to cure the passion of self-love, from which are born the passions of sensualism, ambition and avarice.  John the Evangelist describes it very clearly:

Everything that is in the world, the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance of life, are not from the Father, but they are all of this world. (1 John 2:16).

Consequently, the crisis of our time is a spiritual crisis, attributable to the desires of the flesh, the desires of everything our eyes behold, and the arrogance that prevails in our lives.  Confronting it mainly requires spiritual means - and in fact by Christians living in the so-called Christian countries. If this is not done, then others will be justified in claiming that the Western world which projects itself as Christian is in fact betraying Christ and Christianity, given that it is not in the least reminiscent of the Christian way of life that Christ had designated and His Apostles and Saints had pursued through the ages.

 

Translation: K.N.

Article published in English on: 6-5-2009.

Last update: 6-5-2009.

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