How a Religious Upbringing Affects the Views and Values of Money

Recently, I had the pleasure and good fortune to tour a class of second graders, proudly showing off a set of budgeting projects. In an attempt to learn about subtraction, addition, and the general wisdom of money management, they had, for several weeks, all been living (at least during math class) in a constructed world in which they were the heads of households – managing planned debits and credits, as well as surprise setbacks and windfalls provided by their teacher. At numerous times throughout the project they had to make decisions about spending and saving, which was logged in a ledger, and which all accumulated in the total balance they had to show at the end of the project. One of the decisions they had to make, at about the halfway point of the project, read as follows: “You are asked at Church to donate money to charity. Do you donate $1, $2, or $5?” I looked at the first child’s ledger entry – he chose $1. Then the second: $1. And so on, and so on. With each child I went to, I struck up a conversation inquiring about this selection: Why the lowest amount? Why not the $5 pick? I was told by nearly every child – the point of budgeting is to save money, duh! Why...

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Disaster, Social Infrastructure, & the Bible

by Andrew McLeod God is trying to tell us something with all these disasters. I don’t mean that in the sense that a wrathful God is smiting the wicked. We are getting a message of caution, a loving signal about the weakness of our current order, a guidepost toward a better world based on relationships rather than money. The New Yorker recently published a fascinating article about “social infrastructure: the people, places and institutions that foster cohesion and support.” Author Eric Klinenberg reminds us that a comprehensive strategy of resilience will involve more than changes and repairs to our physical infrastructure, and more reliance on internal rather than external help. I previously blogged about the general implications of this concept of social infrastructure, but now I want to look at how something like social infrastructure was employed in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls after the Exile. When disaster strikes, it is often faith communities that provide the most substantial and sustained assistance to stricken areas. But ironically the methods often used – channeling help from outside through large and centralized agencies, government and otherwise – conflict with what scripture describes in the main Biblical story of life after a disaster, as told in the first six chapters of the book of Nehemiah, which began some time after the restoration...

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