Too Many Barns

This weekend my Dad was here helping me with some household projects. Of course we had to go to Home Depot on Saturday. In the course of this we saw a massive new subdivision full of the big homes I like to call "McMansions." Dad remarked that these were expensive homes and it was remarkable so many people are able to afford them. I said that it is ironic how families are getting smaller and smaller while houses are getting bigger and bigger.

Now I suspect that many of those who inhabit McMansions really can't afford them. Their dreams will end unhappily. But clearly there are substantial numbers of people who have no problem buying $400,000 houses. Here in Texas the property taxes can be as almost much as your principal and interest payments, too.

Then on Sunday I heard yesterday's Gospel reading, Luke 12:13-21. Christ tells the story of a rich man who probably lived in a sort of ancient McMansion:

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”

"I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones." Hits a little close to home, doesn't it? It's exactly what we in America have been doing in the real estate boom of the last few years. This parable warns us that a time will come when our treasures will be useless. Earlier in the passage Christ says it is fine to be wealthy, as long as your life does not consist of your possessions. It's all a matter of priorities - which for all too many of us are frequently misplaced. I'm guilty of it as much as anyone.

With that in mind, consider this video clip of Wall Street pundit Jim Cramer going nuts on a live news program. Cramer is mad because the mortgage bond market is blowing up. He wants Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to bail out all the poor millionaires for whom losing money is apparently an unfamiliar experience. Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for those guys.

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