Spirituality for Today – April 2010 – Volume 14, Issue 9

Editorial – Hyperinflation

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Over the past few years, the worth of investments, homes, and money itself has been at the forefront of the concerns of millions of Americans. There has been a lot of soul searching and assessing of one’s priorities in life. Even economic recovery poses threats to the hard currency of life; a threat such as hyperinflation.

A photo portrait of Fareed ZakariaFareed Zakaria

Hyperinflation is the worst economic malady that can befall a nation. It wipes out the value of money, savings, assets, and thus work. It is worse even than a deep recession. Hyperinflation robs you of what you have now (savings), whereas a recession robs you of what you might have had (higher standards of living if the economy had grown). That’s why hyperinflation has so often toppled governments and produced revolution. It was not the Great Depression that brought the Nazis to power in Germany but rather hyperinflation, which destroyed the middle class by making its savings worthless.

– Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World

What we judge to be of value and from where that value derives is one of the most important decisions that we make during our lives. What if the value assigned to something or to someone is miscalculated? A sort of hyperinflation takes place. Currency dramatically looses value and the cost of the desired object or the investment in an admired person increases wildly. Images arise of people pushing wheelbarrows of money to the store to purchase but a few needed items. The subject here is not legal tender but the spiritual, psychological, and emotional capital within us all.

Connecticut’s Litchfield County is one of the most beautiful plots of land in this country. The bucolic countryside is lightly populated by old time Yankees and by refugees from the high-powered world of New York City’s artistic and business community. The feel of life is tranquil and conservation is gospel. In an article for Departures magazine, Stellene Volandes quotes a weekender from New York, "We leave Manhattan at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday. We stop at G. W. Tavern in Washington Depot where the owners always save us a booth. Saturday we get breakfast at Marty’s coffee shop. Then we’ll walk around Lake Waramaug, stop by the Pantry for takeout, go back home and read by the fire. Every Saturday at 7:30 we go to Oliva restaurant and I order the Gorgonzola-and-caramelized onion pizza. Sunday morning we are back at Marty’s, then maybe the Hickory Stick Bookshop, or the Sunday market for organic vegetables and a pie, then home again." Sounds like a well ordered, quiet, peaceful weekend. One thing is missing though – church or even a time of prayer. Perhaps, this husband and wife simply chose to leave that detail out, but I doubt it. I fear that their lives are immersed in hyperinflation. They have placed a value on their weekend activities that is illusory. What their routine provides them is valuable and important no doubt, but what is absent carries an immeasurable worth. They have placed too much in too little and have removed themselves from the greatest treasure of all. They have fallen in love with God’s grandeur and they have neglected God.

What if the judge of what is deemed to be of authentic value originates from a source other than our self? It does. Our ability to value love, beauty, friendship, trust, honesty, justice, and the other gracious and caring aspects of our natures comes from God. Let us employ and enjoy the things of this world but not inflate their value and miss the eternal riches.