motherteresa~01~01

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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sri

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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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...

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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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moneytalk

Money talks: the language of transaction

Economic talk pervades our language: our relationships are all about “give and take”, we ask ourselves “is it worth it?”,  when evaluating someone’s value we ask, “what do they bring to the table?” (and if it’s not “enough” we feel we got a “raw deal”) and when we want to be let into someone’s deep meditations we offer “a penny for their thoughts”. We define our own worth in economic terms – we “feel like a million dollars”. We rarely take things at “face value” and when we mess up we like to “pass the buck”. “The bottom line” is that a language of transaction permeates our relationships and interactions. We don’t only talk using money phrases but we interact with others with a transactional mindset, keeping a balance sheet of rights and wrongs. Our relationships often look like little black books of debits and credits. Or as Micah Bales puts it in Money is our Language and our Love, “It has emerged as the communication system of an entirely new way of seeing the world: The entirety of God’s creation becomes capital to be exploited and property to be owned by individuals and corporate entities. As a natural outgrowth of this worldview, today every square inch of the earth is theoretically owned by someone. Every living thing, every...

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