Money #2

It seems to me, that to have and use money in a healthy way involves understanding it in two ways that is a bit of a brain smash (paradox).

The triviality of money
There is a sense in which you need to spend as if it doesn’t matter. You spend money like you would drink water perhaps. You drink without reservation when you are thirsty, and you use water in this sense until you are hydrated. And so it is with using money. If a family member is sick, or in danger, the dollar amount to get them out of sickness or trouble is irrelevant. You spend it. You loan it. You sell your house and live on the street if it must be done. There is truth and there is reason to this. This perspective highlights the fact that money is only so useful as the things it gets us – the medicine or knowledge it gets us or the time it saves us. There is no inherent value in itself.

The preciousness of money
The other sense involves treating money as a scarce resource. Indeed the great majority of the world’s inhabitants must do so. And frugality is not a bad thing. There is a prudence and a wisdom to using money sparingly. Indeed it’s usefulness is remarkable. No other resource has the power to give us gratification or life (food/shelter) with such immediacy. And seemingly, it has the power to provide things like no other resource we have. And so the paradox of having and using money in a healthy way requires that we do attach preciousness and value to it.

 

And I notice with great frequency the incredible inconsistency in my thinking about money. Sometimes I use large amounts of it without batting an eyelid. And yet at other times, the pain of using a small amount is enough to distract me from being fully engaged in the very situation I used it to create. What an irony!

So this part of my struggle with money – to treat it with the utmost levity, and with the utmost respect. And I think that if I were able to master the art of using it (for it seems that it is quite a bit of an art) then I would be a much happier, generous, wise, engaged, and beautiful person.

 

See post 1 for more thoughts on this topic

Money #1

Money is such an extraordinary entity. It is strange and it is so very very very powerful. I feel like there is so much confusion when it comes to how we see this thing. There has been in my heart and I’m still on a journey to understanding it. And no wonder Jesus teaches more on money than on anything else. It is the source of so much of our hope and joy, our pain and toil. I plan to write a series of posts on it. These posts are a window into my thinking about money that is still developing, so thanks for taking the time to read, and feel free to comment/feedback.

I feel like we are in unchartered territory in the west with money at this point in history. At no other point in history has such a huge emphasis been placed on so many people on accumulating wealth. At least in Sydney, it feels like the whole world is on your back about investing in the right investment property, doing the right thing with your super, share-market predictions and etc.

Anyway I’m going to start by describing a few different kinds of people. All quite extreme in their attitudes towards money. I’ve definitely been in the shoes of these people I’m about to describe to differing degrees.

I want to describe a particular kind of old person – the kind that accumulates wealth for the sake of accumulating wealth. They accumulate and constantly count their pennies, or are constantly check their investment portfolios. It is ironic because money has absolutely no value once a person passes from this earth, and yet this kind of old person will continue to accumulate money not for the sake of giving away, but simply for the sake of having it. They will often refuse to do anything which might give them better quality of life for example – turning on heating for fear of a large electricity bill, or go out for nice meals. They will store up wealth as a security blanket in a fashion that is completely illogical and irrational. This condition that plagues this kind of old person is the kind we are all at risk of having. The absurdity of such thinking and such behaviour is only made more stark when put in right perspective

The other kind of person I want to describe is the kind that hates money. And it will be a poor person who hates money. He hates it because he sees it as what limits him from doing what he wants to do. The buck stops with the amount in his bank account. This is the inherent problem in much of our thinking about money. It is not the limiting factor we think it is. Money can always be earned with time and perseverance. Money comes, money goes, much like water. I am coming to think that time is a more critical resource than money, and yet we rarely are as frugal with our time as with our money.

Back to the poor money hating person: ironically this very same money-hating person is the same person that would be a money-lover if he would have plenty of it. The issue with this person is not that he has or he doesn’t have money. The issue is the idolatry of it in his heart. And the fact that in his heart, his life, his joy is pegged to what he has or doesn’t have. This person doesn’t like to spend money. It also goes then that the one who hates spending it, is the one who loves it. There is a sense in which he loves it for itself. And to the extent he does, he will be miserable.

More to come.

An alternative to a generation of Biebers and Mileys

More than any other generation before us in history do we have the potential to impact/change/affect the spheres in which we live (our immediate contexts to our cities, to our nations, to the world). The human being has always been a creative, productive, hungry, and desiring creature. What sets this age apart from any other is the platforms and technologies available to administrate and project these qualities or gifts…

…for the greatest amount of good human history has ever seen

…or for a great deal of bad.

News of Justin Bieber’s arrest last week reinforces what we have seen and continue to see consistently from a generation of young and old. Here is a generation of people with more influence, power and money/resources of most human beings at any point in history. And the exploits we hear again and again, are of individuals in trouble with the law, indulging in excess, waste, drugs and etc. Why does greatness in this world seem to come hand in hand with hedonistic, narcissistic, meaningless behaviour?

And here I would like to raise the possibility of an alternative. An alternative that is not simply behaviour modification – simply because if what I really want to do is to satisfy myself in ways that ultimately do damage to my body, and to those around me, YET by sheer force of will and self-control, I do the right things – that is actually bondage. No, that is too superficial and restricting.

So what if our very natures could be changed? I don’t want to exist doing what I really don’t want to do, but doing it because I know it’s the right thing to do.

No, I want to DESIRE and SEEK the good of myself and those around me. Then my good behaviour is actually a hedonistic pursuit of a fundamentally good and altruistic nature. That is what I want to call true freedom. Freedom in its fullest and best sense, because it is freedom for me in the sense that I get to do what I want and it is freedom for others and for the society in which I function because of my good deeds.

This ‘beautiful alternative’ would CHANGE THE WORLD. This phrase “change the world” is thrown about all too easily today and it has lost meaning, but I want to emphasise that mean it in it’s actual sense.

The world would be changed.

I want to suggest that this is what Jesus meant when he said ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That the kingdom of God in its fullest manifestation is filled with people who only ever do what they want to do. The kingdom is filled with people  that they are completely hedonistic but those in whom the hedonistic desires and behaviours are deeply altruistic.