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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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Jubilee Party on Wall Street by Shane Claiborne

Ten years ago, we threw a party on Wall Street.  It was one year after 9/11 and nine years before Occupy.  We were inspired by the ancient vision of Jubilee found in the Bible – where God invites the Hebrew people to dismantle economic inequality by forgiving debts, setting slaves free, and redistributing property.  It was God’s emancipation proclamation, the Almighty’s creative way of systemically interrupting the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Sure, biblical scholars are quick to point out that the Hebrew people never really practiced the Jubilee very well.  But one of my favorite scholars goes on to say, “That’s no excuse… Christians have never really practiced the Sermon on the Mount very well either.”  It was still God’s dream, God’s intention — and it is our job to keep God’s dream alive. So we threw a Jubilee party on Wall Street, ready to confront the raging bull head-on, ready to flip the tables on the front steps of capitalism’s temple. We invited the homeless folks in New York to come to the front entrance of the New York Stock Exchange where we planned to give away ten thousand dollars in cash.  They came…lots of them.  Just as the opening bell rang inside the Stock Exchange, Jubilee started rumbling \outside.  Small bills were dropped...

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There Were No Needy Persons Among Them

by Shane Claiborne There is no place where it is more clear that economic sharing was a core practice for Christians than in the life of the early Church; this little community that Jesus has formed to continue to live into that ancient hope that the people of God could show the world what a society of love looks like. In the book of Acts, the Scripture says this: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as they had need…All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had… There were no needy persons among them. “ (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-34) All the believers were together and shared everything in common. They put their offerings at the feet of the apostles to meet needs. At one point the text even says that there were no needy persons among them. One of the signs of the birthday of the early church at Pentecost was this – they ended poverty. How unbelievable is that! What they had to figure out early on was the best way to care for their most vulnerable members, “the widows and the orphans” (Acts 6). Amid all our bureaucracies...

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Theology of “Enough”

by Shane Claiborne   There is no better time to talk about redistribution than right now. The world is aching. Inequality smacks us in the face again and again. Technology has connected the world into a global neighborhood where it is nearly impossible to ignore the invisible faces behind the lifestyles many of us live, or the painful poverty much of our world experiences. Daily news headlines highlight the economic instability of the market, and call us to question the unsustainable patterns of consumption that we call the American Dream. People are wondering if God had another dream in mind. God’s dream for creation is different from Pharaoh’s dream or Rome’s dream or Wall street’s dream. At the center of God’s economy is the idea of REDISTRIBUTION. One of the first stories in the Hebrew Bible is the story of Exodus, in which God rescues a group of Hebrew slaves from the oppressive world of Pharaoh. They were building the storehouses of Egypt – that is to say, they were building banks to store other people’s money, while their own families struggled to live. God hears their cry and rescues them. As they are being led out of Egypt, God begins forming them into a “holy nation” by establishing some new laws and patterns for these people. They are...

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What Would Jesus Cut? Bread vs. Bombs

Growing up in the Bible belt in East Tennessee, I can remember an entire campaign built around “What Would Jesus Do?” There were WWJD bracelets, stickers, and t-shirts. Today there is a new campaign. As legislators in D.C. debate cuts in the federal budget, Christian leaders around the country are posing the question “What Would Jesus Cut?” We simply want to make sure the poorest and most vulnerable are cared for … as Jesus said, “when you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me.” Just to put things in perspective. Consider this one proposed cut alone — $450 million in contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. If passed, approximately 10.4 million bed nets that help prevent malaria will not reach people who need them; 6 million treatments for malaria will not be given; 3.7 million people will not be tested for HIV; and 372,000 tests and treatments for tuberculosis will not be administered. I’m not one to place a ton of hope on Capitol Hill, but it does seem all of us could do a little damage control. After all, cutting $3 mosquito nets that can save lives while continuing to spend $200,000 a minute on the military should raise some flags of a different sort. What would Jesus...

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