breaking bread

The Liturgy of Abundance and The Myth of Scarcity

Our fundamental beliefs about how the world is structured and the principles which underpin it inform how we interact in it. Walter Brueggermann, scholar and theologian, posits that our interactions with resources, need, consumption and stewardship are determined by our belief in one of two key positions: the liturgy of abundance or the myth of scarcity. Either we believe that what God has created is good, that He has set in motion principles of abundance which He sustains with his hand, and that the bountiful creation he placed into being has enough for all of us. Or we believe that there is a insidious famine in resources, that there is not enough to go around, and that we must hold on to as much as we can against that day when it all runs out. The choices that face us are no different than those facing the Israelites as the Manna fell each day. Those who believed in a God who had created and sustained an economy of enough, took only as much as they needed each day and those who had little did not have too little and those who had much did not have too much. But those who believed in an economy of scarcity took more than they needed and hoarded it till the next day,...

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Money & Mattering

I came across this post today and it led me down a rabbit trail of thinking about all the ways in which we try to matter. One of the many ways my generation has sought to matter has been through money, through wealth, through the accrual of “things.” And, as the post posits, I just wonder how often that seemingly meaningful, though really meaningless, pursuit is all an attempt to matter in a world we feel has ignored us, missed our value, or just has moved too quick past us to feel as if we’ve made any real difference. In the end, this pursuit says more about the influence our market-based economic thinking has had upon on us than our true value, our true worth, whether we matter or not in the kin-dom of God. What do you...

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Manifesto for the Economy of Life

Below is an excerpt from the São Paulo Statement on International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life (World Council of Churches, 2012). We would love to hear your thoughts on this manifesto. Is there anything you would add to the creed? Does it speak from (and to) the intersection of faith, economics and justice?  The 2008 global financial and economic crash increased poverty and unemployment among millions in the global North and worsened and deepened poverty, hunger and malnutrition among even larger numbers in the global South, already experiencing decades of poverty and deprivation caused by injustices in international financial and economic relations. A system of speculation, competition and inadequate regulation has failed to serve the people and instead has denied a decent standard of life to the majority of the world’s population. The situation is urgent. Critical theological reflection on the material and collective bases of life has been intrinsic to the call to be faithful disciples of Christ and has expressed itself through theological contemplative praxis that has sought transformative liberation from unjust socio-political, cultural and economic structures, thereby promoting the fullness of life for all creation. Modernity has, however, brought with it an economic model based on profit and self-interest disconnected from faith and ethics. This has led to the ideological justification of colonialism, the despair of...

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São Paulo Statement on the Economy of Life

In late September, 2012, economists, church leaders, activists, politicians and theologians gathered in  São Paulo, Brazil, to respond to and continue work around issues of economic, social and ecological justice. Together, these ecumenical leaders envisioned an alternative global financial and economic architecture, building on several seminal confessions, statements and call’s to action from the last decade. The São Paulo Statement: International Financial Transformation for the Economy of Life is well-worth a read. In particular, I was inspired by the introductory creed on pages 3 and 4. The manifesto follows a format of rejection and affirmation, thus: We reject the explosion of monetisation and the commodification of all of life, an economy that is driven by debt and financialisation, the ideology of consumerism, increasing individualistic consumerism, an economy of over-consumption and greed, neoliberal capitalism which conditions us psychologically to desire more and more, and the economic abstraction of Homo Oeconomicus which constructs the human person as being essentially insatiable and selfish. We affirm a theology of grace, an economy of forgiveness, caring and justice, an economy of Manna which provides sufficiently for all and negates the idea of greed, the diversity and interconnectedness of life and interdependent relationships with the created order, an economy of sufficiency that promotes restraint, and that we are called to think not only of our own interests but also of the interests of others. This...

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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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