That's how the staid and sensible Radio 4 described the state of the money markets at lunchtime today...I know things are grim, but it does seem to me that the media generally have been fanning the flames of economic cataclysm for some months now, predicting dire things at every turn. Events may well be proving them right, but I can't help wondering if there is at least a degree of self-fulfilling prophecy too.
However, there's no denying that things are looking bleak.
The C of E has recognised this by producing a special prayer
Lord God, we live in disturbing days:
across the world, prices rise,
debts increase, banks collapse,
jobs are taken away, Loving God,
meet us in our fear and hear our prayer:
be a tower of strength amidst the shifting sands,
and a light in the darkness;
help us receive your gift of peace,
and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As responses go it's not bad - but when I met with a small group of clergy for theological reflection earlier this week we noted that there is no suggestion of penitence, of accepting a measure of responsibility as beneficiaries of an unsustainable system, or of longing for change implicit in the prayer. It's all about a personal reaction to a very frightening situation - and in that respect it's entirely reasonable.
But as the Church of a God who has a bias to the poor, maybe we ought to have a wider agenda.
Repentence - that we have grown rich as others struggle
Hunger for a juster sharing of resources
Visions of a world in which interdependence replaces ego-centric independence - so that we are once again in the business of nurturing communities designed for mutual flourishing (Diane has a fine post exploring the need to rediscover community in the face of crisis ... well worth a read)
What with a church full of pets in the valley, and the excitement of Harvest AND Bishop up the hill I didn't get to preach on the Philippians passage set last weekend - which saddens me rather. At a time when every news bulletin talks about loss at some level, the perspective of one who has been able to set aside all his material credentials to focus his all on relationship with Christ surely has something to say to us.
But I'm not sure that, as they look at us, our secular neighbours would actually see much that is distinctive in the reactions of Christians facing economic calamity.
Of course on one level I'm as fearful as anyone- that the children won't find jobs, that the world that they have just begun to discover and celebrate will be closed to them by the need for austerity and retrenchment at every turn, - that the benefits we take for granted will all disappear overnight and (perhaps most of all) that old age will mean poverty, as our pension provision is scant and any degree of comfort depends on our selling the big house when the time comes, and investing the profits to live on. I'm good at being scared - but I do believe, without any wavering, that what really matters, ultimate well-being for the whole of creation, is assured...that God is for us, that the love that brought us into being remains constant.
And I want my life, and that of my church, to demonstrate that core belief.
Faith needs to make a difference, doesn't it?