Clergy talk about eternity.

Stockbrokers refer to long-term planning.Both are talking about keeping the ups and downs of life - whether volatile stocks or the much-wanted promotion that didn't come through - in perspective.

The Rev. Roger Anderson, pastor of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, talks about breaking the news of a fatal accident to a shattered family in his role as a police department chaplain.

Such moments, though crushingly painful, tend to focus people on what's really important, he said.

"I guarantee that they weren't thinking about the stock market," said the Rev. Anderson. "And they weren't thinking about Bill Clinton, either."

The last few weeks have been kind of hard on the American people. And sometimes it's easy to forget that it's a dot in the big picture, agree local clergy and investment counselors.

After all, the leader of the free world is being ridiculed around the globe. Critics at home and abroad complain of everything from the immorality of his admitted "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky to its sheer stupidity. Some are growling for his resignation or impeachment; others want things left alone. They don't want change that could effect the economy negatively.

And like dominoes, everything hinges on everything else. Russia's economic woes shake America's market; the Asian market determines the value of money across the globe. Hence the very bumpy stock market ride to which investors have been treated.

The word "fear" keeps popping up.

It's pretty natural to be afraid of things that are hard to understand, said Dan John, director of Religious Education for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake.

The man who clenches his hand and raises his angry fist at God, demanding to know why he was injured in a freak accident is really not much different from the widow who's panicked or angered by the serious devaluation of her nest egg.

People who can't take the long-term view are in trouble, he said.

"I have a lot of money in my retirement. But a stock market crash has no effect on me. That money is long-term and I never look at it. If it's lost, it could turn out to be bad. But it wouldn't make my wife be hungry or my daughters be hungry or mean we have no gas in the car. So I'm not afraid of it.

"Fear, to me, is when you have driven past six gas stations on your way to Disneyland, then you look down and notice the gas is on E as you enter the desert. It's the evil that could come from it."

Fear is one of the "passions," in the Catholic faith, he said. And passions are in and of themselves neither good nor evil. Passions are, instead, the appetites that make people do good or evil. So love and fear are both passions. And what you do with them determines their value.

While Mike Aitken, a stockbroker with Edward Jones Investments, doesn't talk about the soul, eternity or God, he says basically the same thing. "Our perspective is the ups and downs of the market don't make a difference. You should only invest money you have for good long-term investments. You don't take the food off the table or the shoes off your children's feet."

Done well, stocks are part of a heritage passed on, he said. Many families still own the same investments their parents first purchased. His average client has owned the same investments for 19 years. The average homeowner only owns a house for seven years.

"You have to make sure you have money on hand to do the things you need. Take care of the basics. It makes no sense to invest if you have to take it out again next week."

And where else, he asks, can you find a sale that people run from. "Smart clients are buying investments and staying with it. This is the only market in the world where things go on sale and people run away."

Ken Hansen of DA Davidson knows some of those people. They are the ones who have to know the reason why things happen. Why did the stock market change?

It's as hard to know and quantify as the weightier questions of eternity or God's will. But the stock market, like a lot of people's faith, feeds on stability. It does best when the government has a strong leader and world markets are doing well.

So Hansen counsels a widow from Logan that she certainly shouldn't pull her investments - or panic - because the market has dropped. "My customers are riding it out and having some fun buying," he said. "The market's good and capitalism's a wonderful, wonderful program. We're doing buy orders 15 to 1 over sell orders. Have we hit the low? I don't know. But we know we'll do all right if we're choosing companies (to invest in) based on strong fundamentals."

Hansen also believes that wise long-term financial planning is important to an eternal plan. A devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "I think Heavenly Father wants us to be successful, to be happy, to pay our bills. He would have us use judgment and wisdom. Future planning is about being responsible, being a good citizen and taking care of yourself and your family.

"You put your faith in God," he said. "But the stock market is an extension of capitalism, and that's a chance to invest and be part of the American dream, of something that can grow and build."

The Rev. Jeff Silliman of Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church is offering similar advice in a different context.

Whether you're looking at the death of a loved one, an illness, employment challenges or the stock market, you have to "pull back from the immediate problem - not deny it, but put it in the context of eternity," he said.

"Financial fortunes won or lost are easier to deal with than personal tragedy, death, divorce or serious illness."

The key to surviving - and thriving - he said, is to remember that you're not alone. In a crisis, remember that God hasn't deserted you. Neither have your friends or your church. They can't change it, but they can help you through it.

He admits it's hard to convince someone not to shake his fist at God. "And I encourage them to let God know if they're angry. He's tough. He can handle it."

The Rev. Anderson believes that Christians have a responsibility to plan for their financial futures. But he also believes they must be flexible and open to receiving whatever God has in mind for them, as well.

Individuals can't control life or death or the stock market. But they can control how they react to it, to a degree. And that's the one thing the Rev. Anderson tries to offer people who are troubled.

"I pray for the peace of God in people's lives. If they've got that, they can do whatever."

Is the debate over the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal good or bad? Has it sparked valuable debate about morals or just upset the applecart?

Is the market volatility good or bad?

It's like asking Dan Johns about the good or evil of World War II.

His parents met and fell in love when his dad was in the service.

"No war. No me," he said.

Perspective.