My thoughts on life, faith, and ministry in the world. Follow @TimBlodgett
The recent step into scandal at Chesapeake Energy here in Oklahoma City has brought to the forefront again the silent danger of not knowing what is going on around us and of how much perception is often faulty. Chesapeake Energy has been integral to the rise of Oklahoma City over the last decade and employees thousands of residents. They are also huge givers to local charities. Their success has been Oklahoma City’s success. We are tied together in more ways than just that their name is on our downtown arena. What happens there effects all of us.
When reporters from Rolling Stone Magazine and Reuters recently discovered possible issues at Chesapeake, it sent shock waves through the community. While researching a story on “fracking”, a controversial method for extracting natural gas, the reporters uncovered a billion dollars in loans to the CEO of Chesapeake Aubrey McClendon that was previously unknown. Further investigation also uncovered a $200 million hedge fund that McClendon ran on the side from 2004 to 2008 that traded in oil and natural gas contracts, a possible conflict of interest. The Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating.
While none of the reported issues so far at technically illegal, they point to one of the greatest problems of our time: not knowing what is “off of the books”, what is happening in secret around the edges. Moreover, this is a growing practice of businesses and governments.
To all outside sources, Greece was a flourishing country as the calendar shifted from 2009 to 2010. By a combination of methods, Greece was able to hide or keep off of the books the fact that their national debt was more than double what was reported and among the highest in the world. By participating in exotic financial instruments called derivatives and legal, but dishonest accounting practices, Greece was able to live will beyond its means while sitting on a time bomb for its own country and the world economy. As I write, the world markets are again dropping again over instability in the Greek economy.
Silence is the deadly enemy of the church. The recent and still ongoing scandal concerning the abuse of children by Catholic priests, points to the great harm that can be done when silence and secrecy become the rule of the church. Silence also plays havoc when churches are involved in their own financial scandals. More than a few accountants or boards have perpetrated far reaching financial frauds through creative bookkeeping and lies. Debts, losses, and negative information has been kept off book. All in the name of saving face or making a ministry appear more successful than it is.
In the secular or religious world, it is easy to believe that by hiding sin or failing that you are protecting those around you. It is easy to believe that the white lies and half truths might even benefit everybody involved. It is even easy to believe that a lot may be to gain through questionable practices. But in and outside the church, history has shown that everything eventually comes into the light of day and Christ. And often by then the problem is infinitely worse. In your life and faith, live in the light and truth of Christ. Hold firm to what is true. Be authentic. Be transparent. Be honest with yourself and your world. Let the chips fall where they may. And know your only true hope is in God.