Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”  Thomas Merton “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” Albert Einstein “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who writes its laws” Maier Amschel Rothschild I’m looking to have a conversation. In my article “Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?” I haven’t prescribed (at least not at this point) how we should understand usury and greed, but instead created a space for conversation. I encourage you to read the full article by downloading it, but if you prefer, here are few thoughts to consider. I have borrowed money, I have lent, and I have seen the beauty and the pain that can be associated with both. Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system.  Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, or carbon dioxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they would stop singing prior to succumbing to the gas; therefore, their sudden silence would alert the miners to danger. If you have watched any of the...

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The Case for Collaborative Consumption

Rachel Botsman writes and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies, and on how it will transform business, consumerism and the way we live. She is the co-author of “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative...

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Leadership in God’s Economy

When I was a student at Eastern College, David Black took it upon himself to teach me the way of Jesus. He was president of Eastern, and it wasn’t in his job description to disciple an undergraduate student. But every few weeks he’d meet me for breakfast. He reminded me almost every time we met that Jesus was a “man of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7). Make this your constant prayer, he would say: “What does it mean to be a man of no reputation?” What does it mean to be a man of no reputation in our reputation-obsessed world? I ask myself this question as I consider how actually to live the alternative reality of God’s kingdom that we preachers are wont to wax eloquent about. We like vision. Unfortunately, our record is spotty when it comes to implementation. And one example of this is the challenge of living God’s economy in the midst of an economic crisis. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples how God’s economy slips into the world. His tactic has a lot to teach us about leadership, especially in uncertain economic times. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them,” Mark recounts, “but the disciples rebuked them” (Mark 10:13). On the face of it, this seems strange. Why would the...

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What Would Jesus Cut? Bread vs. Bombs

Growing up in the Bible belt in East Tennessee, I can remember an entire campaign built around “What Would Jesus Do?” There were WWJD bracelets, stickers, and t-shirts. Today there is a new campaign. As legislators in D.C. debate cuts in the federal budget, Christian leaders around the country are posing the question “What Would Jesus Cut?” We simply want to make sure the poorest and most vulnerable are cared for … as Jesus said, “when you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me.” Just to put things in perspective. Consider this one proposed cut alone — $450 million in contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. If passed, approximately 10.4 million bed nets that help prevent malaria will not reach people who need them; 6 million treatments for malaria will not be given; 3.7 million people will not be tested for HIV; and 372,000 tests and treatments for tuberculosis will not be administered. I’m not one to place a ton of hope on Capitol Hill, but it does seem all of us could do a little damage control. After all, cutting $3 mosquito nets that can save lives while continuing to spend $200,000 a minute on the military should raise some flags of a different sort. What would Jesus...

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“Enough” by Will Samson

Chapter Nine – Economy I had a childhood highly typical of the American Church – white, middle class and suburban. My father was active in both our church and in an evangelistic organization named Word of Life Ministries. We lived in a gated community, owned a dog and voted Republican. My identity as a child was quite largely tied to a sense of economic well-being. As I look back on this there was an understanding of the way of Jesus tied to American capitalism within my Christian upbringing that not only went unchallenged in my faith community, but was encouraged in subtle ways. I am not suggesting that I grew up within the wealth and prosperity gospel, but rather that there was little clear differentiation between God’s economy and Adam Smith’s. Even the way we thought about missions was similar to the way American corporations think about business: we hired specialists. Once a year these specialists from far off places would come to the Church and talk about their work in wild and exotic places. And we would pray and thank God that they were doing it. If we were to think of the American missions movement of the 19th and 20th Century, we might think about how captive this movement was to the idea of specialization. As our...

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