Greed is the root of all vice, as love is at the heart of all virtue. When someone like Bernie Madoff exemplifies the extent of greed, it's becomes a check-point for us - a guidepost to not be swallowed up by the temporal no matter the extent.
Why talk about Madoff now? There are a few cultural events that are surfacing that celebrate his demise and leave us baffled at how capitalism errs so easily.
One event begins this weekend in a variety of cities including New York (the center of it all) and Washington D.C. It's a documentary film called "Chasing Madoff" and it follows Harry Markopolos who discovers Maddoff's fraudulent actions 10 years before he was ever caught. (Here's the info I found intrguing: Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/3mh8tq8; Web: www.chasingmadoff.com; and there's even a Facebook for the film: www.facebook.com/chasingmadoff).
There is also a play in Washington D.C. that just opened at the Jewish Community Center (http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/theater-j/on-stage/11-12-season/imaging-madoff/).
Still more, there is said to be a film in the works, but we'll wait and see.
I suppose Madoff is one of the biggest crooks in recent history and that creates intrigue. How can someone be so dishonest for so long and among people that you know trust you - his friends and family? How does someone offer no apology and simply step out of the scene?
The simple answer is a biblical one. "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." When we understand the ways we manipulate our days to meet the demands put upon us, we begin to realize the we're several decisions away from usury of people. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors. It wasn't for any gain other than we love Jesus in the process. When we reduce our relationships to suit our own will, there are simply clanging cymbals and no love.
I for one am appreciative of films that call us back to the horror of extreme greed (or some other vice) because it shocks me, not for shock's stake, but for me to pause and realize the gollum-like person I can become without love and without honesty and without (ultimately) the grace of God.
(Full disclosure. I have worked with the "Chasing Madoff" project for the last two months in an effort to gain some exposure for the film.)