The American Dream & the Myth of Retirement

As a clergyperson, I harbor no real expectations of retiring in the traditional sense–i.e., working until the age of 65 (or 67 depending upon the generational cohort to which you belong) and then “retiring” (quitting) from work for the rest of my life.  While this will not dissuade me from planning and saving for later in life, the idea I have for my latter years is less “no work” and more “different work.” The reality many of the current retirees face–including those who had well paying jobs, planned for the future, and did what they were “supposed to do”–is not one of their own making.  Many discover very quickly that even what they have isn’t enough and are forced to work even later than they ever expected, as detailed in this Washington Post piece entitled “Retirement Today.” As I read through the article, I began to wonder what this says about our current society–in particular, how we’ve moved away from families supporting each other during our waning years towards a model whereby each one is solely responsible for themselves.  In many respects, this is the direct result of our capitalist system and an outgrowth of the de-centering of the family as the predominant social unit. Given this reality, how might we envision a new idea of retirement, one not...

Read More


A prayer of Freedom

As we question, wrestle with, debate, reflect on and seek to grow in the ways our faith and resources work together, it can be helpful to pause and offer up a meditation that reminds us of our purpose and intention and calls on God’s help as we navigate these waters. Mark and Lisa Scandrette, in Free: Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most, offer this daily reflection to us: Which line of the prayer do you most resonate with? Are there any lines you struggle to say with honesty? Which parts do you offer as statements of action, which as statements of belief and which as statements of intention? I know that I am cared for by an abundant Provider. I choose to be grateful and trusting I believe I have enough and that what I need will always be provided. I choose to be content and generous. I know that my choices matter for myself, for others and for future generations. Help me to live consciously and creatively, celebrating signs of your new creation that is present and coming. Creator, who made me to seek the greater good of Your kingdom, Guide me to use my time, talents and resources to pursue what matters most. Teach me to be free, to live without worry, fear or...

Read More


Blessed are the poor [preferably by someone else?]

I read this amazing article by my friend Mark Scandrette this morning titled ‘How are we dealing with the growing gaps?’ in which he repeatedly punched the reader in the face with gentle words and examples. Because that is the point really – when it comes to the poor and particularly those we walk past [over/across the road from] in our daily walks [to the local coffee shop to get a four dollar grande non-fat partial-whip skinny cappamochachino frappe, no-one needs to pull out manipulationary tactics or guilt-enducing analogies, because the Truth itself is so obvious and does the job for us. And Mark is not trying to throw stones at you or me particularly. It is very clear that this is a mirrored picture that starts with him and his awareness of where he stands in the pecking order: I’m not the richest or the poorest person here, but I do make more than thirty-four thousand dollars a year, which puts me in the top one percent of global wealth. Somehow it’s easier to compare myself with those who have more than with those who have less. If I’m honest with myself, I’m most like the rich man in the Jesus’ story. Mark refers to the place where we live as ‘the uncomfortable tension between the rich man...

Read More

Pope Francis on the idolization of money

Recently, in a visit with workers in the Italian city of Cagliari, Pope Francis shared some strong words on the topic of unemployment and the global economy. The pope acknowledged the suffering that accompanies prolonged unemployment, and denounced an economy that has placed the pursuit of money above the well-being of men and women. For those interested, the full text of the Pope’s statements can be found here (warning: they are in Italian, but google translate can provide you with a pretty decent English translation). While the Pope is not saying anything essentially new here (in fact, some of this all sounds very familiar… Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 familiar), his words do give new voice to an age old sentiment that has taken on a peculiarly modern manifestation. How can we make sure that our economy does was it is intended to do – serve the interests of humanity, and provide for our well being? How can we keep people at the center of our...

Read More


Self-Interest: The Economic Drive?

Has bartering every really existed as a true economic system outside the debit-credit sort of system?  If so, what did it look like?  These are important questions to ask given the rise in popularity of ‘bartering’ as a new means of economic transaction (even a magazine like Real Simple has tips on how to barter). The anthropologist David Graeber released a book last year related to debt and its five thousand years of history, and the folks over at Two Friars and a Fool have been working their way through the book.  In the most recent post, the issue of bartering and its relationship to global economics throughout history was addressed.  The author details how bartering was created not as a means of economic transaction, at least not on a large scale, but rather as a “thought experiment by economists trying to explain their discipline.”  In addition, the author notes how bartering throughout history has traditionally been undertaken as a self-interested act, where each side, in an effort to procure what they needed to serve, was looking out solely for themselves. I’m thinking about this in relationship to the rise of the “sharing economy,” as well, and its insistence upon peer-to-peer engagement.  Many folks, including myself, have been lured by the possibility to be help in such things like...

Read More