Civitatem Dei, De Regnis Duobus

NEVER ENOUGH

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By David Beilstein

ONE thing about scandals involves their ability to offer clarity. Take “wealthy” socialite and Tampa, Florida resident Jill Kelly, for instance. We have all been told that the housing implosion of 2008 and onward was caused by the Bush administration and its economic policies of the last eight years.

The notion the Federal Government pushed Banks across America to make loans to those who could not afford them in massive numbers has not been an angle the media has pursued. And it was not part of any political campaign’s rhetorical panegyric.

But America is a greedy country of late. And the Federal Government is subsidising it. The race against the Jones’ – the race to grapple up the searing face of Mount Everest “fame” seems insatiable to many.

The Daily Mail reported today some interesting things about Jill Kelly; another woman caught in the Petraeus-Broadwell sexual scandal. It appears Ms Kelly was exchanging e-mails with top Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen. Those e-mails have been likened to “phone sex” in content.

A woman of beauty and allure, Jill Kelly who was an unpaid (jobless?) socialite managed to rack up over $3 million dollars in debt with her husband Scott.

The Kelley’s are currently the targets of at least four indebtedness lawsuits and two foreclosures in Hillsborough County, according to court records. Central Bank have a suit against the Kelleys’ and Kelly Land Holdings, centred on a three-story office building downtown Tampa.

Court records show they owed the bank nearly $2.2 million, including attorney fees. In 2011, a judge ordered the property to be put up for sale. Regions Bank, meanwhile, is trying to foreclose on the couple’s historic $1.3 million waterfront house, claiming they defaulted on a $271,000-credit line with their five bedroom house as collateral, according to Gossip Extra.

This kind of personal financial magic would bankrupt a small country. Subsequently, could it be, much of the financial collapse was because of the way many Americans (mis)managed their finances?

Ah no, that could not be it – huh? Too easy to blame George W. Bush.

Certainly the Federal Government should not be coercing banks across the country to make bad loans. We know the Democratic Party in the interest of “equality” came up with that plan back when Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. The consequence of that statist push for equality was to create less of it — income inequality skyrocketed, and market dislocation  effected millions. But again, consequences no longer matter in politics, Nov. 6 is evidence of that.

The GOP and its base isn’t innocent either, however. The Republicans  – roiled over the bedroom habits of Americans – failed to make a case to get rid of the law. Such a tack would have required some factual polemical argumentation from Republicans about the kind of things government should be doing (reducing Federal intrusion where it does not belong) rather than engaged on the battlefield of the culture war.

But the blame does not escape Americans generally speaking. Our financial comprehension is impoverished in this country. That shows itself up in Ms Kelly’s circumstance in the micro, and the reelection of Barack Obama in the macro. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that lowering the financial burdens on Americans (reduction of cost of living, taxes) could not be the explanatory instrument of financial collapse for millions of Americans.

It is also not surprising why Ms Kelly occupies the bed she has made. Her shame is understandable from an Augustinian perspective. It seems, sadly, she has been striving after wind. Her journey has temporally afforded her wealth and privilege. As Solomon the wise wrote thousands of years ago in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Vanity meaning, in the Hebrew, broken. Everything is broken in this life. The teleological pull of redemptive history creates a suction in which all men and women under the sun can never find blissful refuge in an age passing away, making way, of course, for the World to come.

Those things in life, under this age’s sun, are fleeting and impermanent. They offer only transient satisfaction.

St Augustine knew the temporal world would never ultimately satisfy man bearing the imprint of Imago Dei. A large window into the landscape of Augustine of Hippo’s book, The City of God, written some 1400 years ago, explains such theological and historical realities. The secular world has a limited purpose, ordained by God. The human being, then, is “wired” for eternal destiny. Consequently, it is the earthly landscape upon which the redemptive purposes of God are ordained in a dramatic context according to God’s eternal decree. In ultimate terms, then, the shape of history – everything it contains – this world; its vagaries of pleasure, and of wealth, can never be enough.

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