John Steward of Jesus
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The Pinball Game

October 15, 1981

Life in Pleasant Valley had been peaceful and prosperous before the stranger arrived. He invited the respected people in the valley to a party, and let them play with his pinball game. It was delightful. Playing the game made lights flash, wheels spin, balls roll, and bells ring. If people played well, the stranger gave them pinball points, which permitted them to come back and play again. The stranger kept the record of points.

Other people in the valley wanted to play too, and asked the stranger for pinball points. He said he would lend points to people if they would promise to pay back the points, promise to pay him extra points for his risk, and pledge their property to him as security. The people agreed. They played, borrowed, and pledged. All of them wanted more points. They pledged almost all of their property so they could get loans of points. Merchants sold all their goods for prices in pinball points.

One day the pinball game broke. The stranger said it was best not to fix it. He said only lazy and immoral people play pinball. He said that people must work, and that only workers could borrow more points. He said pinball points were still useful and had their own value. He said they were backed by all the wealth in the valley, and by the full faith and credit of hard-working people. The people agreed.

The stranger still keeps the record of points in the valley. He lends points to those who agree to produce what he wants produced. The workers and merchants use these points to pay their outstanding loans, and to pay the extra points the stranger needs for his risk. With these extra points, the stranger buys what he wants from the people.

Only a few old people remember what life was once like in the valley. Most of the people hope that someday they will be able to play with a new pinball game.  But a few young people are asking a few of the old people questions.