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...

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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...

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Blessed are the Poor [as long as you keep them away from me!]

I could not believe this article when I read it. But it seemed legit and so I started writing this Two Cents piece. But then I realised that both the sources I had were from the same source which was called Gawker.com which sounded a little potentially dubious and so I did a typical ‘Name of site/Hoax’ search and saw the words  ‘Gawker’ and ‘Scam’ and so figured I had been caught and so deleted the whole thing with a sigh of relief that I had avoided sharing the story and then finding out I had gotten it wrong. But then something in me made me check myself and I did a google search for the original premise of the story and found that there actually were multiple sites reporting on it and so this ‘dreadful hoax’ does in fact seem to be a more dreadful truth. The article, ‘Outrage over Separate Doors for Rich and Poor in Manhattan High-Rise’ sums up the story like this, In an effort to secure tax breaks and other building allowances as part of New York City’s Inclusionary Housing Program, Extell Development Company has offered to set aside some 55 Affordable Housing units for low-income families inside the 274-unit luxury tower it is constructing in the Upper West Side. The “catch” being that 40 Riverside Boulevard will...

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Why Lie?

Why Do We Demand Greater Virtue of the Poor Than the Rich?

And Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you, and expect nothing in return.  Unless they bought an XBox, then screw ‘em.” – Ramsey 2:16 The most prevalent argument against programs which combat poverty is that poor people deserve to be poor because they make bad decisions. Of all these so-called bad decisions, the one that is rising to the top is that poor people buy stuff they don’t deserve. Not just pundits and talk-show hosts, but even friends and family, who I normally consider reasonable, say stuff like, “What right have they to be on government assistance? They have a TV!” Where does this vitriol come from? Why do we demand saint-like virtue of the poor? A Double-Standard Which Shows Our Own Greed No one bats an eye when a rich person throws money away on obvious excesses and luxuries. No matter how extravagant someone lives, we just say “Well, they earned it. They can do whatever they want.” But that’s not the worst part, because the most harmful thing you can do with money is nothing at all. As the wealthy hoard their money, the economy grows anemic. Even today, this is one of the biggest reasons our economy is so slow. But again, we say nothing because our culture doesn’t base virtues on their own...

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When my Helping has Hurt – a shared post of Sarah Binos

  Sarah Binos is the Executive Director of the Common Ground church initiative and non-profit known as ‘Common Good’ – she wrote this article ‘4 Common giving mistakes I’ve made’ on the Common Good blog page and you should totally go and read the full article, but here are some excerpts which stood out for me.   Instead of giving you a blueprint for giving – because there isn’t one! – here are some of the mistakes I’ve made in the area of giving. Hopefully this will equip others not to do the same! Mistake #1 I haven’t prioritised building relationships enough as I try to live out Christ’s call to do justice My friend explained how much it would have meant if her donor had been more like a distant aunt – who checked in with her occasionally and saw her as a person with hopes and dreams as opposed to a project. Mistake #2 In my attempt to “fix things”, I’ve communicated that “I am the adult and you are the child” Instead of engaging, asking insightful questions and giving the person I hope to bless the space to process and think through a way forward, I present a quick solution with a whole lot of uninvited advice. This can communicate the idea that I’m wiser, and...

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Monopoly with the Pope: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200

It seems like Pope Francis really is serious about cleaning things up in the Vatican as far as healthy use of money goes, as this new article from ‘The Fiscal Times’ suggests When he took over as head of the Roman Catholic Church last year, Pope Francis made it clear that he meant to be the leader of a “poor church” – meaning that the Vatican would focus less on its own splendor and more on finding ways to use its vast financial resources to benefit the world’s poor. What might have been viewed by critics as ‘a strategic move’ when Pope Francis came into power and made some significant changes to the banking structures, now seems to really be something that the pope is taking seriously as he has just fired all five directors of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority [considered to be the primary watchdog in terms of the Vatican’s financial operations] as they were too closely tied to the previous leaders who were ousted and were getting in the way of reform. The article compares Francis’ actions to a similiar controversial incident that Jesus was involved in: The announcement on Thursday was only the most recent in a series of firings, replacements, and arrests that have rocked the Vatican’s financial hierarchy. It turns out that for Francis, casting the...

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