On the Bailout: It's okay to pray for wisdom

On the bailout which Washington is putting together to keep our economy from unthinkable ruin, I would venture to suggest that prayer is not just okay, it is imperative – particularly given the recent and clear revelation that both houses of congress are mostly populated with sad clowns incapable of putting partisanship aside – that those of us who pray consider turning to prayer (and perhaps even fasting) that our current governmental leadership be giving the thing that Solomon had and which so many of them clearly lack: Wisdom.

Not “degrees from elite colleges.” Not general airs of superior knowledge. Not “book-smarts” because that can only take you so far, but the sort of “gut-smarts” that are so often the touchstones of real wisdom.

Solomon was smart enough – wise enough – to pray, not for riches, not to not get caught, not for security, but for an understanding heart.

O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this–not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right. I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.

The financial crisis that startled congressional partisans to near-silence last weak has already dulled enough for some political maneuvering to appear. The very people who helped to create this crisis now want to “oversee” the bailout. Others object and say – quite rightly – that one person should not have that much power. Leaders who last week squawked, “no one knows what to do,” suddenly want to pretend they have the answers; more money! To the trillions of dollars we’re spending, let’s spend even more. That’s pretty scary.

The GOP – taking a very big risk, here – is taking their chances with the dubious press; they know if they argue with the Democrats it will be reported with venom as “obstructionism”, and played up to the hilt in this election, but they’re going to argue, anyway, and they are right to. This is far too serious an issue for the political sandbox. We can’t afford another mistake.

So, I am off to Adoration, as I am every Monday. Today is no particular feast day; it is a simple day of prayer, and the Vespers of the evening can be found here, if you’d like to pray it. In fact, the first psalm seems particularly apt:

“For the wicked have drawn their bows, fitted the arrow to the string, to shoot in darkness at the upright of heart.
When the foundations are being overthrown, what are the just to do?”

No, I’m not calling anyone “wicked” – the foundations do feel like they’re close to being overthrown.

Aside from the liturgical prayer, I am going to pray especially for that “understanding heart”
with which God gifted Solomon. I’m going to ask it for our leadership in both parties, and for all of us, too – that our election may be guided by hearts that have considered and weighed and measured.

People who don’t understand prayer – like, apparently, Charlie Gibson – do not understand that for people of faith, regardless of religion, the prayer is always, “thy will be done,” or “help us to know thy will.”

Our leadership is flailing about. I do believe they tread precarious waters and that most of them haven’t a damn clue what is to be done, here. And because they don’t know what to do, they’re retreating to what they do know, which is partisanship and politicization. But these times are too serious for it. It has to stop.

We have to demand that it stop – it is partly what brought us here. But even more importantly, we have to pray. Because prayer has real power. It changes things.

And the prayer should not be, “O, Lord, fix this economy so that we do not suffer,” or “O Lord, fix the economy so that our guy wins!” It should be something like:

“Have mercy on us, Lord, in our confusion and weakness. Give unto us, our nation, and our leaders, an understanding heart; that we might trust your guidance and do your will. Should it please you, we may recognise the firm path of economic and social rescue, one that treads upon honest ground and leads us to a place of secure foundation. You are our Rock, O Lord. Help us to lean upon you in these troubled times, to turn toward your light and your truth, that we may safely steer this dangerous and murky road. Help us to be mindful of those in particular need, the elderly, the unwell, that they do not escape our vision, but rather call us to proceed with extra care, and a determined dependence upon your light. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever.”

As I said, “something like that.” Solomon’s prayer seems pretty good to me, all by itself.

I’ll be posting Compline – the prayer before sleep – tonight, and then will make available a page where the Night prayers for the whole week may easily be found. An awful lot of people seem to be clicking on to those prayers, and if before bedtime is the only time you can find to pray, and praying sometimes comes hard, hey, I’m happy to help out. New Wineskins is also writing about the spiritual side of this crisis.

If you like this post, please consider clicking the subscription chiclet at the top of the right-hand sidebar. Maybe we can all pray together, and be support for each other through what may well be – if it is the Divine plan – some harsh days.

Here are some spiritual and secular perspectives.

Victor Davis Hanson on Wisdom in an election season.

Text of Draft Proposal for the Bailout here.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://www.eternityroad.info fporretto

    Every sincere prayer has two subtexts. The first is “Thy will be done.” For it will. If a financial meltdown is the price the laws of reality — God’s laws — must exact from us for our follies, then that’s what’s going to happen. Which brings us to the second subtext: “May I be strong enough to bear it.”

    Let’s hope we are. With His help, perhaps we will be.

  • Kevin

    The bailout proposal you link to is from last Friday. Treasury redrafted it yesterday to include assets other than those related to mortgage-backed securities and to include foreign financial institutions with operations in the US (we’re going to bail out foreign banks, too!). The Democratic leadership on this issue (Barney Frank in the House and Chris Dodd in the Senate) and the administration seem to be making progress, although Dodd has drafted a bill of his own that is 44 pages long, as opposed to Treasury’s original 2-1/2 pages. According to Frank’s press conference this afternoon, changes have been agreed to (from The Detroit Free Press):

    “Frank said among the changes Democrats had proposed and the Bush administration agreed to were:

    • Aid for people facing foreclosures whose loans are bought by the government. With mortgage loans frequently chopped up and sold among several buyers, renegotiating the terms for people who fall behind has become increasingly difficult. Frank said such help could be in place a few weeks after the bill passes.

    • An independent oversight board that would review all the deals made by the Treasury.

    • Allowing the government to buy stock and warrants in addition to bonds. Frank said this would let the government take a portion of any profits if a bank recovers thanks to government aid.”

    Let’s draft Warren Buffet for the oversight board. Yes, I know, he’s advising Obama, but he’s a straight shooter. Better still, add Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger, another whip-smart apostle of common sense, to the board. The Republicans can have Michael Bloomberg on the board. Yes, he’s not a social conservative; instead, he’s another smart guy when it comes to big-picture financial matters, which is what we need at the moment. Few of us trust the “sad clowns,” and oversight should be nonpartisan.

    If it’s any comfort, the last “bailout” agency whose function was most closely similar to what this new agency’s function is supposed to be (buying bad assets from solvent banks) was the Home Owners Loan Corporation, created by Congress in 1933. It actually made a big difference, buying up loans from banks and reworking them into affordable loans for homeowners. I think it actually made a profit for the US Treasury when the final accounting was done. May we be that fortunate this time around.

  • Patricia


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  • pbuchta

    McCain needs to look in the mirror and see what his GOP buddies have been up to with trying to push this $700B bill with no oversight.

    “Up to 10,000 staff at the New York office of the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers will share a bonus pool set aside for them that is worth $2.5bn (£1.4bn), Barclays Bank, which is buying the business, confirmed last night.”

  • Clare Krishan

    Blessed contemplation wishes!
    (Holy Radiation Therapy is what I dub it to try and encourage more to participate in our parish’s perpetual adoration schedule – I’m a night owl from 2 am to 3 am waiting with out Lord in the Garden at Gethsemane every Fri morning)

    May I offer this to those who trust in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to rid them of vincible ignorance: Carl Menger, father of the Austrian School, “On the Nature of Value”

    and may I also encourage fellow Catholics to not succumb to the logical positivism so prevalent in the discourse of the day: one thing we can be sure of there is “a priori” absolute truth and we are equipped with the logical circuits in our brain to deduce it!
    Aristotle, Menger, Mises: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Economics

    “Austrian Aristotelianism as formulated above is first and foremost a doctrine of ontology: it tells us what the world is like and what its objects, states and processes are like, including those capacities, states and processes we call knowledge and science. More generally, it tells us what sorts of relations obtain between the various different segments of reality. The question of apriorism, on the other hand, which is skew to all such ontological concerns even to concerns pertaining to the ontology of knowledge relates exclusively to the sort of account one gives of the conditions under which knowledge is acquired.”

    indeed any “fervent practicing Catholic” should be concerned not be misled by the fear mongering or illusory promises of a tyranny of relativism: “be prepared to give an account for the hope that is within you,” right?

    “Neoclassical economics … rests on the positivist thesis that economic reality lacks intrinsic intelligibility ‘tout court’, so that no non-trivial part of economic theory could be ‘a priori’ in any of the senses distinguished above. The propositions of economics are mere inductive hypotheses, and the method of economics consists in the building of testable models, selection among which is effected, at least in principle, on the basis of RELATIVE predictive strength” in other words a naked utililitarian calculus that has no grounds in the natural law.

    Those of us who hope for a renaissance in defense of the natural law as a means to correct mistaken precendents in our system of jurisprudence would do well to familiarize themselves with Menger’s thoughts, for it may well be that the economic grounds of arguing for the dignity of human free will from the natural law could advance the social grounds for defending the dignity of life from womb to tomb also.

    [Edited to admit MULTIPLE LINKS. This is not difficult to do, but it is becoming very time-consuming for me. When you throw in a long url, it screws up my page, so I must come in here and make links of them. Here are easy instructions on how to do this yourself. If I can do it, anyone can. Thank you - admin]

  • Clare Krishan

    oops did that URL thingummy again sorry – please retrieve if you find my ‘lost’ comment worthy of consideration!

  • Clare Krishan

    Barclays has obviously decided it is willing to pay a premium of $2.5bn to keep the institutional and global wealth clients that those employees service. What’s a bit shady and could result in some international legal wrangling is that the funds were wired during the last days from accruals laid away in London for other arms of the business, not the part Barclays is buying!
    N.B. the brokerage firm my hubby uses for our family’s meager investments got 150 new clients when a local independent broker transfered all the funds he managed for his clients out of one of the distressed firms. I-banks fall the same way Main st banks do, when they’re subject to a bank run!

  • Clare Krishan

    Sorry to be a blog-hog but one last gem before I stop burning the midnight oil (we’ve set our internet router to disengage at midnight for a few hours shut eye!)
    Here’s Dr. Luckey (cute name eh?) who blogs at Acton’s Powerblog

    which ends by aluding to JPII’s “acting person” and promising more installments by way of explanation!
    Deo Gratias for faithful Catholic academics who think and act “ex corde ecclesia”

    [Edited to admit link. This is not difficult to do, but it is becoming very time-consuming for me. When you throw in a long url, it screws up my page, so I must come in here and make links of them. Here are easy instructions on how to do this yourself. If I can do it, anyone can. Thank you - admin]

  • pbuchta

    Message to Congress:

    Settle the differences and get the job done. I hate an election year. Everyone has their own opinion about everything, especially lawmakers. All of them!

  • http://jscafenette.com Jeanette

    I’ve been praying for the Lord to intercede since I first heard about this. I finally came to the point when I realized it’s all in His hands anyway, so why worry when we can pray?

    If no one cares who gets the blame and lets history decide it should get done and soon. If

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