bomf

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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free

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...

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moneyless man

Freeconomy

Mark Boyle’s radical experiment in living without money in an alternative “Freeconomy” may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I certainly don’t foresee myself living off the grid in a converted caravan, foraging for food, cycling 100 miles a week and brushing my teeth with crushed cuttlefish bone. However, even if I never “opt out” of the current economic system to the extent Mark and others have, my soul resounds with the justifications for these radical shifts in living which Mark has made. Money, he suggests, has fundamentally disconnected the consumer from the consumed. We are no longer aware of the direct repercussions that our purchases have on people, animals and the environment. Money has facilitated that great divorce between our consumption and the embodied energy and physicality of the world. Secondly, Mark suggests that money has replaced community as our primary source of security. He describes this relational and spiritual disconnect in a jarring analogy: “Prostitution is to sex as buying and selling is to giving and receiving”.  Mark, the “Moneyless Man”, is on a quest to bring into balance his head, his heart and his hands; to start asking “How much can I give?” not, “How much can I get?”; to reconnect his consumption to the physical environment and interpersonal relationships. That I can get on board with. How...

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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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