Jul 3, 2009

Big Picture: What is Wealth?

Now, Darden finally sent notice of loan awards. No grant, max Stafford loans, rest in Graduate PLUS loans. Oh well, at least I am grateful that I have access to loans to attend school. Better than nothing.

The biggest remaining financial hurdle is to sell my house. It's already consumed much effort (re-paint and re-carpet) and it promises yet more headaches as the market is very soft in North Carolina. Sure, it's far more robust relative to sub-prime markets elsewhere in the country, but it's still soft. The lesson to draw here are clearly to start early, very early. Also, I think you need a good agent, which mine is not. Be sure to shop aggressively and interview agents more thoroughly (and more than one) before signing.

Anyway, something else came to my mind. In particular, I thought about what it means to worry about the world, and realized there is a world apart from the world we now inhabit. I attended church last Sunday, and there were many old folks who are frail and whose days seem numbered. To the eyes, that church appears to be dying. Later that day, I came across an article about prevalence of plastic surgery in Asian countries. I'm sure there are many social forces at play, but my initial thought was that there is something morally wrong about it. I realized that using another set of eyes, the old folks who worshiped on Sunday were healthy, while a society that drives its youth to the knife for looks must be in the throes of a spiritual death. So, I must also watch out. If I don't be careful, I'll be just as lost in irrelevance instead of waiting on the Lord. It would be reactionary to simply state that plastic surgery is wrong; it isn't. At the same time, there is something not right about people who are forced to feel ugly due to some arbitrary conception of beauty, or for people who feel they must look a certain way on account of their peers, or just because they believe they must appear more comely to obtain a job, etc. Then again, that's no different from American female preoccupation with breasts size, and so forth. All of which reminds me that we really live in twisted times.

What then is wealth? Luke relates a story about Peter washing the nets by Sea of Galilee after a night of no catch. Jesus then tells him to cast his nets to the deep waters. Peter obeyed and caught so many fish that he beckoned James and John to come out to help him. Both boats were sinking, so rich was the catch. Once on shore, Peter confessed "I am a sinner." Why did he say that? Because, he realized that there is a world apart from that which he inhabited. Thereafter, it was no longer important to catch fish - though he caught many that day. Jesus took these men to make them fishers of men. World apart. Maybe it's another way of saying there is a bigger picture. For all the material wealth of this world, for all the worries about loans and this or that, there is something more important out there. I hope I'll have the humility to cast my net in the deep water when Jesus tells me to.

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