Thursday, March 26, 2009

God and Mammon

My dear Readers,

"You cannot serve God and Mammon."

These are difficult times for everyone. Perhaps one of the most discouraging aspects of the economic downturn is the sense of betrayal many of us feel for having entrusted our money to "financial managers" who, while assuring us they would guarantee our security, were interested only in taking management fees and making money for the brokerage houses to which they are linked.

Our expressions of anxiety were repeatedly met with "You're all right" even when the situation was very wrong. We were never offered alternative options, e.g., to get out of the market and put everything into CDs, but locked into the brokerage mentality that assured us that the managers were experts and we were idiots. When these attitudes combined with the market crash and the inexcusable ignorance of these managers as to how stocks would be valued if they fell beyond a certain point, some of us were wiped out.

It is not easy to acknowledge the fact that the people one has trusted—in this case there had been two generations of association—are not trustworthy; that their claims of competence are questionable; that they are not listening to your concerns over the years about getting out of the markets completely (because they would make less money off of you); and that they do not have your best interests at heart.

Those of us who are engaged in some way in trying to make a difference to human lives, for whom money is a means to an end and not an end in itself, have been particularly vulnerable to this sort of cynical exploitation that cloaks itself as interest in our well-being.

"To sell all you have...." is a phrase that in the present circumstances can seem both grimly ironic and entirely apropos. Along with the sense that one is looking down a black hole, there is also, however, a tremendous sense of freedom. For those seeking simplicity, the anxiety of markets often created dissonance and stress, as did property ownership.

Like many others, I never thought I would be in a position in which I didn't have enough money to live on for the last few years of my life, but, having sold everything—house and contents, anything that might bring in a few dollars—by the end of April I will leave my present location without really knowing what will happen to me, though I am exploring every possible route to find a job or an arrangement where the gifts of solitude may be shared.

But wherever I am I will try very hard to keep posting on this blog.

My goal has always been "to give and not to count the cost," as the old English prayer expresses it, but now it is necessary to ask if you are able to help. Three churches have said they will receive donations on my behalf:

The Rev. Jonathan Appleyard
St. Saviour's Parish
41 Mount Desert Street
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609, USA

The Rev. Roger Greene
St Timothy's Episcopal Church
8101 Beechmont Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45230

The Rev. Scott Fisher
St Matthew's Episcopal Church
1030 2nd Ave
Fairbanks, AK 99701

If you are able to donate, thank you. If you are not, please pray for me, and know that I will pray for you.

With my love and gratitude,

Maggie Ross


Anonymous Dick B said...

Maggie -- pls check with Scott Fisher for small donation

11:29 am, March 29, 2009  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Bless you, Dick, and thank you. Maggie

4:33 pm, March 29, 2009  

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