Show me the [pope’s] money!

Some of you may have already seen this article titled ‘I knew Pope Francis was good, but when I found out everything he did in 2012 I was blown away’ which lists 19 aspects of Pope Francis’ 2013 and some of the impressive things he did [especially perhaps, when viewed through the lens of previous popes]. What was interesting to us at Two Cents was that four of the 19 dealt directly with money-related  ideas and acts: 1. He spoke out against frivolous spending of the church 9. He auctioned his motorcycle to benefit the homeless 11. He condemned the global financial system. 14. He redirected employees bonuses to charity. And three of them a little more indirectly, but conservation and the homeless are both very finance-related areas: 6. He urged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest  8. He snuck out of the Vatican to feed the homeless 18. He invited homeless men to his birthday meal All of this showing quite a strong emphasis on the ongoing intersection that seems to take place between FAITH and FINANCES. Jesus Himself often made specific references to the kingdom of God and the lure of money, reminding us that it would be an area where we would regularly have to make a choice and that it was not possible to reach for both, or worship both...

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a new [Russell] Brand of government?

I have never been a huge fan of comedian and actor Russell Brand and i’m not actually sure why that is, but this video clip from last night on BBC’s Newsnight show upped his rating [if only because of the plethora of long words he throws out as if he understands them all] And this is a bit of a different post from normal as it doesn’t relate directly to the FAITH meets FINANCES conversation, although i definitely think the questions it poses that are related to FINANCES [in the form of political systems and agendas] are worth considering and approaching from our FAITH perspective. But all in all it is a really interesting interview [although it feels a lot like an attack a lot of the time, but I thought Russell handled it well] so I would highly recommend you giving it a listen: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3YR4CseY9pk]   You can read the associated article here. I think the main point Russell is challenging is the acceptance of government as we know it simply because we’ve always known it to be that way. And while he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate exactly what that new system looks like it is one that: [A] looks after the planet and [B] addresses the disparity between rich and poor.  Which brings us to...

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Back on their Feet

‘We can change the direction of peoples’ lives by changing the way they see themselves.’ So says Anne Mahlum, an ordinary person who came up with an extraordinary yet so-simple idea as evidenced in this short video clip. She started the organisation ‘Back on my Feet’ which helps homeless people, through running and then later job and study opportunity creation, to literally and then figuratively get back on their feet. In the much longer, but completely worthwhile TED talk video at the bottom she tells the story of how “I realised i could help them in the way that running has helped me.” One of the first men who joined the club was a guy called Kenny Herder: ‘I walked in that shelter so depressed. I was just sad. I was down and out, I was drinking heavy at the time, and what that does to you is it fuels it. When ‘Back on my Feet’ came to the shelter that was the day my life changed. As I ran, my mind became healthier, my body became healthier. As these things become healthier. your decision-making becomes healthier…’ Anne goes on to add that Bak on my Feet’ is not about handouts, it’s about hard work.  ‘The sole measure of success is how many people have we helped get employed and housed....

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Investing well

What if we pushed pause for a second and reframed some of our questions. Instead of asking “How much do I need?”, let’s ask, “How much do I have?” Instead of wondering if investing falls in the “storing up of treasures” category, let’s consider the impact we could have with our dollars if we aligned our investments with our deeper values, our hope for creation and our participation in the restorative activity of God in our world. Let’s shift perspective on the power our resources have to effect change. Socially Responsible Investing is by no means a new concept (this video tells us what it’s all about in plain English), and has been explored and practiced by many faith-based individuals and companies. At its core, SRI focuses on sustainable, socially conscious, environmentally aware, and ethical investing. As Tom Krattenmaker puts it, “Instead of obsessing over how little we possess and how much more we need, faith- and spirit-based investment advisers urge investors to be grateful for how much they have and imagine the good they could accomplish if they invested it generously.” What becomes possible if you considered reorienting your investment strategy, perhaps even risking a reduced financial return, in “exchange for a better social...

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if this were a homeless

Giving to Drug Addicts

Several years back, compelled by the policy of the community development organization I was working with in the inner city of Philadelphia, I decided not to give money to people on the street who asked for help. The neighborhood had high rates of unemployment and homelessness and so requests for help, for a couple of dollars, were frequent. Unfortunately, the neighborhood also had a lot of folk who were dependent on drugs and/or alcohol. Like many others, I adopted the maxim, “Never give money to a beggar. They’ll only spend it on drugs.” Now, undoubtedly, my motivations were good: 1. I believe I am called to steward my resources well and throwing them down a drain of addiction certainly doesn’t fit with that duty and 2. I do not want to be responsible for enabling another person’s dependency and destruction. I have felt very morally justified, therefore, in my intentional choice not to give money to people on the street. This motivation though is flawed for a number of reasons and Marc Barnes recently wrote an excellent blog addressing some of these issues, entitled ‘Giving your money to drug addicts.’ 1. This policy assumes that everyone asking for money or help has a dependency issue and is either a drug addict or an alcoholic 2. This policy assumes that...

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