• Hiatus

    Hiatus

    Two Cents will be taking an open-ended hiatus during 2015. We value these conversations and believe it is critical that intentional spaces are created to host them but presently do not have the organizational capacity to continue filling that role. That’s not to say things are over; we are simply moving Two Cents to the back-burner until such time as we are once again able to pick up this mantle. Think of it as the ellipses to a vital conversation that must continue…

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  • godsandkings

    Gods and Kings, Wealth and Power

    This post originally appeared on: www.s.coop/nehemiah ——- Biblical blockbusters are a thing now. Last spring’s Noah was followed by Exodus: Gods and Kings. Spectacular computer-rendered miracles have helped a supposedly godless Hollywood to cautiously embrace scripture. But the latest shiny apocalypse has preserved little of the Bible’s warnings against wealth and power. Yes, flogging and starving slaves to build monuments is wrong. But our modern Empire does not feature pyramids built by slaves with flayed skin. Still the great towers of our world rest on the backs of exploited workers; despite significant but superficial improvements, we are still in Egypt. Exodus director Ridley Scott missed his source text’s moral about how not to be like those awful Egyptians. The film pays no attention paid to how the Israelites attempted to free themselves from the oppressive ways of Egypt, which is a major theme of the Book of Exodus. Evil is found not just in the horrific labor practices that made the Egyptian monuments. The problem is the very existence of grand platforms for worship by and of elites. It’s hardly surprising that Hollywood ignores the material’s deeper treatment of elites – our culture portrays revolutionary leaders as merely another type of elite. Even relatively subversive works like The Hunger Games default to a messianic hero(ine). We can’t wrap our head around effective collective action, even when the Exodus story teaches just that. Perhaps elitism is an essential part of filmmaking – a mass of characters certainly can’t be developed in a couple of hours. But as Rebecca Solnit points out in her book A Paradise Built in Hell, disaster films are also propaganda. Catastrophes (including biblical plagues) have their own mythology rooted in our cultural default of hero worship. Elites depend on order and know that disruptive moments can bring it…

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  • false-strength

    Capitalism and the False God of Strength

    Strength has been worshiped by various cultures throughout the history of mankind. The strong are elevated and the weak are subjected. We would like to think we have matured a bit past older barbarian habits, but the god of strength has found a new home in our hearts. That home is our zealous embrace of capitalism. Capitalism is NOT “Christian Economics” Capitalism is the best method of economic governance we have for found for producing wealth… so far. I want to make it clear that criticizing capitalism is not a default argument for communism. Besides, we are in a sad state if we think we only have those options. Instead, I am simply pointing out that there is no reason for capitalism to be so embraced by western Christians as to confuse the two. Just because it is “the best” doesn’t mean it is perfect, beyond criticism, or above reform. “You Will Succeed… If You Are Strong Enough” Just about every cry of social inequality today is countered by zealous capitalist anthem of, “If you work hard enough you will succeed.” No matter how disadvantaged you are, or far behind the curve, cries for empathy fall on the deaf ears of “just get a job.” Yes, it seems that every situation has the simple solution of working more, working harder, and working longer. We say this with an implied social contract that all our hardship will pay off with success. Survivors Often Despise the Weak “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,” – 1 Corinthians 1:27 There is a commonly understood effect in modern psychology that people who survive stressful and difficult situations often come to despise…

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  • file000319532983

    Seeds, Soils and Revivals

    This post originally appeared on: www.s.coop/nehemiah ———————– What triggers a revival? What sustains it? What are the seeds and soil out of which transformative mass religious fervor springs? Large groups of excited people gathered to hear charismatic preachers can certainly spark change. But events end and leaders’ perceived shortcomings inevitably emerge. Ne believers are dragged back down from the heights of passion. Structures are needed to help the change really take root. Last Tuesday I helped lead a short interactive discussion for the Presbytery of San Francisco, on the subject of the most recent major American religious revival: the Jesus Movement – a.k.a. the Jesus People or Jesus Freaks. While the counterculture of that day (religious and otherwise) has mainly passed, some institutions created out of it have continued to the present. We watched a portion of the video biography “Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher, which has since been removed from the free Internet. It was about one of the key figures in the Jesus Movement, Lonnie Frisbee, whose ministry began with wilderness acid trips featuring Bible study and baptisms. The video made passing reference to a key legacy of the Jesus Movement as well as the broader counterculture of the day: Communes. Life Together Early in his ministry, Frisbee connected with the Big House, a Christian group living communally near San Francisco. He went on to co-found the House of Miracles, which grew to 19 communal houses, and Shiloh Youth Revival Centers, which included around 175 houses in the U.S. and Canada. Christian hippies grew out of the same fertile soil as the rest of the hippies, who planted many of the older food co-ops and worker collectives that continue in the U.S. today, along with a whole range of live-in communities. Now, “commune” is a…

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  • file0001303010317

    Nuts and Bolts of Christian Giving

    Editor’s Note: So, I had to give a short introduction to this article. At a poverty advocacy meeting, this older gentleman over-heard me talking about TwoCents.co and said he would love to contribute. He doesn’t even own a computer, so he wrote out this article on paper and my wife typed it out. With that understanding, enjoy! —– FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11-1) Paul Tillich describes faith as your ultimate concern. God’s plan for our finances is clearly disclosed in the many references the Bible has to money. II Corinthians 8 and 9 are very specific: “It is better to sow generously and reap generously.” Living in the “tyranny of the moment”, makes it difficult to determine ultimate concern. Living in abundance makes it difficult to determine ultimate concern because it is easy to allow the possession of money to control your life. Rich or poor we have similar challenge: How to discern God’s will for us and do it. Rich or poor, it is clear that Christians living outside of God’s economic shelter will suffer greatly and need less. Can you think of someone who is poor and you know it doesn’t have to be the way for them? Can you think of someone who is rich, yet every moment of their life appears to be without joy? God made Abraham rich and He is for our being prosperous. God does not want money to satisfy every earthly desire, corrupt us or have us hoard it. Christians may read clear directives from God and harvest a marvelous spiritual revelation, tangent to what the Bible passage says. Often God’s Word contains much more than a single lesson. Several examples that come to mind are: the parable of…

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Hiatus

Hiatus

Two Cents will be taking an open-ended hiatus during 2015. We value these conversations and believe it is critical that intentional spaces are created to host them but presently do not have the organizational capacity to continue filling that role. That’s not to say things are over; we are simply moving Two Cents to the back-burner until such time as we are once again able to pick up this mantle. Think of it as the ellipses to a vital conversation that must continue… While we regroup, here are a couple of great resources to get your teeth into: Head on over to Two Cent’s parent organization, Common Change. We’re practicing what we’ve been preaching: helping people to pool resources with those they know, to share with those they care about. Check out the work Faith and Money Network is doing to equip people to explore and transform their relationship with money within the grounding of their faith. For practical steps on simplifying, visit Becoming Minimalist Interested in continuing the conversation in your own circles? Check out Mark Scandrette’s Free: Spending your time and money on what matters most. It’s packed with helpful exercise for getting a handle on your money story, and designed for healing and generative money conversations with friends If you’re interested in Two Cents continuing to be a catalyst for dialogue and engagement, and want to lend your advice, experience or time to helping us re-launch, please contact us at...

Read More

Gods and Kings, Wealth and Power

Gods and Kings, Wealth and Power

This post originally appeared on: www.s.coop/nehemiah ——- Biblical blockbusters are a thing now. Last spring’s Noah was followed by Exodus: Gods and Kings. Spectacular computer-rendered miracles have helped a supposedly godless Hollywood to cautiously embrace scripture. But the latest shiny apocalypse has preserved little of the Bible’s warnings against wealth and power. Yes, flogging and starving slaves to build monuments is wrong. But our modern Empire does not feature pyramids built by slaves with flayed skin. Still the great towers of our world rest on the backs of exploited workers; despite significant but superficial improvements, we are still in Egypt. Exodus director Ridley Scott missed his source text’s moral about how not to be like those awful Egyptians. The film pays no attention paid to how the Israelites attempted to free themselves from the oppressive ways of Egypt, which is a major theme of the Book of Exodus. Evil is found not just in the horrific labor practices that made the Egyptian monuments. The problem is the very existence of grand platforms for worship by and of elites. It’s hardly surprising that Hollywood ignores the material’s deeper treatment of elites – our culture portrays revolutionary leaders as merely another type of elite. Even relatively subversive works like The Hunger Games default to a messianic hero(ine). We can’t wrap our head around effective collective action, even when the Exodus story teaches just that. Perhaps elitism is an essential part of filmmaking – a mass of characters certainly can’t be developed in a couple of hours. But as Rebecca Solnit points out in her book A Paradise Built in Hell, disaster films...

Read More

Capitalism and the False God of Strength

Capitalism and the False God of Strength

Strength has been worshiped by various cultures throughout the history of mankind. The strong are elevated and the weak are subjected. We would like to think we have matured a bit past older barbarian habits, but the god of strength has found a new home in our hearts. That home is our zealous embrace of capitalism. Capitalism is NOT “Christian Economics” Capitalism is the best method of economic governance we have for found for producing wealth… so far. I want to make it clear that criticizing capitalism is not a default argument for communism. Besides, we are in a sad state if we think we only have those options. Instead, I am simply pointing out that there is no reason for capitalism to be so embraced by western Christians as to confuse the two. Just because it is “the best” doesn’t mean it is perfect, beyond criticism, or above reform. “You Will Succeed… If You Are Strong Enough” Just about every cry of social inequality today is countered by zealous capitalist anthem of, “If you work hard enough you will succeed.” No matter how disadvantaged you are, or far behind the curve, cries for empathy fall on the deaf ears of “just get a job.” Yes, it seems that every situation has the simple solution of working more, working harder, and working longer. We say this with an implied social contract that all our hardship will pay off with success. Survivors Often Despise the Weak “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world...

Read More

Seeds, Soils and Revivals

Seeds, Soils and Revivals

This post originally appeared on: www.s.coop/nehemiah ———————– What triggers a revival? What sustains it? What are the seeds and soil out of which transformative mass religious fervor springs? Large groups of excited people gathered to hear charismatic preachers can certainly spark change. But events end and leaders’ perceived shortcomings inevitably emerge. Ne believers are dragged back down from the heights of passion. Structures are needed to help the change really take root. Last Tuesday I helped lead a short interactive discussion for the Presbytery of San Francisco, on the subject of the most recent major American religious revival: the Jesus Movement – a.k.a. the Jesus People or Jesus Freaks. While the counterculture of that day (religious and otherwise) has mainly passed, some institutions created out of it have continued to the present. We watched a portion of the video biography “Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher, which has since been removed from the free Internet. It was about one of the key figures in the Jesus Movement, Lonnie Frisbee, whose ministry began with wilderness acid trips featuring Bible study and baptisms. The video made passing reference to a key legacy of the Jesus Movement as well as the broader counterculture of the day: Communes. Life Together Early in his ministry, Frisbee connected with the Big House, a Christian group living communally near San Francisco. He went on to co-found the House of Miracles, which grew to 19 communal houses, and Shiloh Youth Revival Centers, which included around 175 houses in the U.S. and Canada. Christian hippies grew out of the same fertile soil as the rest of...

Read More

Nuts and Bolts of Christian Giving

Nuts and Bolts of Christian Giving

Editor’s Note: So, I had to give a short introduction to this article. At a poverty advocacy meeting, this older gentleman over-heard me talking about TwoCents.co and said he would love to contribute. He doesn’t even own a computer, so he wrote out this article on paper and my wife typed it out. With that understanding, enjoy! —– FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11-1) Paul Tillich describes faith as your ultimate concern. God’s plan for our finances is clearly disclosed in the many references the Bible has to money. II Corinthians 8 and 9 are very specific: “It is better to sow generously and reap generously.” Living in the “tyranny of the moment”, makes it difficult to determine ultimate concern. Living in abundance makes it difficult to determine ultimate concern because it is easy to allow the possession of money to control your life. Rich or poor we have similar challenge: How to discern God’s will for us and do it. Rich or poor, it is clear that Christians living outside of God’s economic shelter will suffer greatly and need less. Can you think of someone who is poor and you know it doesn’t have to be the way for them? Can you think of someone who is rich, yet every moment of their life appears to be without joy? God made Abraham rich and He is for our being prosperous. God does not want money to satisfy every earthly desire, corrupt us or have us hoard it. Christians may read clear directives from God and harvest...

Read More

Deported: A View From the -Other- Side

Deported: A View From the -Other- Side

I was recently sitting in a Tijuana shelter that houses men for 12 days after they have been deported from the United States. I was guiding a group of pastors and leaders from around California and Arizona who wanted to learn the human story of immigration first hand. With that goal in mind, we simply sat with Gilberto, the director of the shelter, and asked him to tell some of his story and the story of those he has given his life to over the past 30 years. Unimpressed by our glowing resumes, large church attendance or broad vocabulary, Gilberto humbly shared about the path Jesus led him on toward caring for society’s leftovers. With a glowing resume of his own, Gilberto intentionally chose to step off the path of comfort and “success” to step deeper into the reality of his brothers who needed his support. He shared about the man who had been deported at 51 years old after living in the US for 50 years. Because this man’s parents came to the US when he was 6 months old, he knew no other home than that of the US. When he landed in Tijuana, it not only felt like a foreign land, but he didn’t even know Spanish. He shared about the US military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but after serving his time in war zones, was deported to Mexico. He shared about the man who had recently been deported and was now desperately trying to return to his wife and young children in the US. With each story, the layers of isolation, dehumanization and misunderstanding began to be peeled back. We had all heard the...

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TwoCents.co is Back! Please Join the Conversation.

TwoCents.co is Back! Please Join the Conversation.

For our loyal readers, you may have noticed a dip in our posts as of late. We apologize, but this down time was for a big renovation. TwoCents.co has a new look for desktop and mobile to make it easier to read and share on social media. For those of you new to TwoCents.co, we are a site dedicated to conversations about Faith and Money. We want to examine how we put our beliefs to action when it comes to economic equality, social justice, charity, and generosity. Also, we wanted to do a better job of putting our authors out in front. Now, every article has an author box where you can learn more about our authors and connect with them on social media. Moving forward, you will see regular posting continue. In the meantime, please take this opportunity to sign up for email newsletter using the form below, or visit the Write for Us page and submit your article about Faith and Money! Subscribe to TwoCents.co * indicates required Email Address * First Name Last...

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Should Christians Live In the Suburbs?

Should Christians Live In the Suburbs?

Let me start with full disclosure here; I live in the suburbs. All around me are pristine sidewalks, manicured lawns, and SUVs. I live here for what are probably the same reasons as most people. First, I am raising a family. And secondly, because I could. However, I have begun to wonder if I am just another person contributing to the problem. More so, I am wondering if I can really follow Christ in the suburbs. White Flight Here in America, we have a phenomenon known as “white flight.” It is the somewhat obvious fact that whenever an area starts to have problems with poverty or social integration, the solution to those with resources is to, well, leave. This “flight out of harm’s way” removes the ability for money to flow across economic and social classes, making the poor even poorer. The suburbs are an unofficial “boundary” keeping out those without the money to afford the price of entry. Segregated Community While there aren’t any more laws keeping us apart, we are doing a great job of it on our own. Within 10 miles of my house are FIVE megachurches with huge university-like campuses, the parking lots of which are their own satire of suburban life, looking like a SUV dealership. Within the churches, are a sea of people who look, talk, dress, and act just like me and everyone else. Church in the City So my first shake up was participating in a church that was in the city, which has every kind of person you can imaging. It was daunting at first, but became refreshing the more...

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I hear the sharpening of pitchforks…

I hear the sharpening of pitchforks…

I stumbled upon this article on Politico.com a few weeks ago and it really caught my attention. Titled ‘The Pitchforks are coming for us Plutocrats’ it takes the form of an open letter from Seattle-based entrepreneur Nick Hanauer to his fellow 0.1% ‘proud and unapologetic capitalists.’ While it definitely applies to the super rich, I believe there is something there in principle for all of us who fall into the marginally rich [as in reading this article on a computer or phone] to take heed of. In the article, Nick shares a little of how he managed to get super rich by anticipating the success of the internet before it was huge and investing in one of his friends and a little idea that became Amazon.com and then he shares some of his observances about present times and circumstances: But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all – I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks. At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of...

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Do Christians Really Need to Be Poor To Follow Christ?

Do Christians Really Need to Be Poor To Follow Christ?

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Luke 16:13 (ESV) Many of the heroes and Saints of Christianity are known for their intentional poverty. For some, like Mother Theresa and St. Francis, it was as serious as taking a vow. For others, such as George Mueller, they just kept refusing wealth. Most of us can recall the story of the Rich Young Man, where Jesus says, “sell all that you have… and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) Because of all this, Christians often struggle and wonder, “Do Christians really need to be poor in order to follow Christ?” To answer this, we need to look at the purpose behind choosing to be poor. The Freedom to Serve Others We all have to make choices in life and prioritize our decisions. Sadly, the priority which usually rises to the top is the need to make money. While money is not the most important thing in the world, neither is oxygen, but you kinda need both to live. Because of this almost all of us, at one point or another, trade off our principles and youthful ideals to appease those writing our paychecks. When a disciple of Christ makes the decision to be poor, they do so as to remove the shackles of the world around them. However, this is NOT to just be free, it is so they can prioritize BEING Christ to others over the demands and expectations of the...

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