Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

9/26/2008

Faith in the Economy?

Avarice.
Inordinate pursuit of wealth or material things.
Theft, dishonesty, misrepresentation, or sharing in stolen goods.
Cheating in business, taxes, school or games.
Making worldly success the goal of our life
or the standard for judging others.
—from St. Augustine's Prayer Book


Over at Newsweek/The Washington Post's On Faith Forum, the panelists answered the question
Are the economy's recent financial failures also moral failures? Are credit and debt religious issues? Do you have faith in the economy?
Bishop N.T. Wright has responded in part,
Certainly the way the 'debt culture' has spiraled -- remember that credit cards and the like are a very, very recent invention, and that the idea of 'taking the waiting out of wanting' was, until very recently, widely regarded as a sign of moral degeneracy -- is a major index of societal ill-health, in which, as with lotteries, the poor are effectively taxed by the rich while the rich tell them 'aren't you having fun!'.

This isn't a diagnosis; it's a signpost towards one. Nor do I have a remedy lying ready to hand. What does 'repent and believe' mean in this situation? I'm not exactly sure; but I do know that it will involve cheerful generosity. Giving money away is the first great step towards dethroning it as an idol. As long as we are a culture of mammon-worshippers we can expect, quite literally, to pay the price that idols always demand.
The Rev. Jim Wallis responded:
The American economy is often rooted in unbridled materialism, a culture that continues to extol greed, a false standard of values that puts short-term profits over societal health, and a distorted calculus that measures human worth by personal income instead of character, integrity, and generosity....

The behavior of too many on Wall Street is a violation of biblical ethics; the teachings of Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths condemn the greed, selfishness, and cheating that have been revealed in corporate behavior over decades now and denounce their callous mistreatment of employees. Read your Bible.

The strongest critics of the Wall Street gamblers call it putting self-interest above the public interest; the Bible would call it a sin.
See all of the panelists responses here: Faith in the Economy.

At the household level
I think a term like "faith in the economy" is preposterous. The Psalmist wrote, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7) referring to the major weapons of mass destruction of their time. Some put their faith in military might, others in the economy. We are to put our faith in God. Jesus warned that it would be mighty tough to serve God and wealth. He was right. I don't know how to solve the national and international problems of the economy. But, I do know how to govern the economy of my household following Jesus' teachings. Placing God first, and giving of my first fruits to him (meaning I give when the money comes in, not when I see what is left), I give the 10% I see in scripture. Then, we live simply enough on what remains to not be beyond our means. I have yet to find my bank accounts running over, but I also have yet to find them empty.

What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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5 Comments:

  • At 9/26/2008 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for this post, I have been pondering on this for a while.

    My situation may or may not be typical of some readers here. I work but am not allowed to keep any of the money I earn, I am given what could be considered an allowance. From this I give a fixed amount each week to the church.

    My question, is this enough? If I’m not at service for some reason that week I double up the next week. I feel I should give every week not just when I attend.

    I don’t feel I am giving enough!! I do try to make up for this by working in different ministries with the church when I am able.

     
  • At 9/26/2008 2:54 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    We always double if our family misses service one week too.Father Frank told me that was acceptable.

    It sounds like you are giving what you are able from your own source of income and your heart. I know that time and talent count for something too! Actually they count for a lot.:)

     
  • At 9/26/2008 11:16 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Of course credit and debt are religious and moral issues. We are called to be good stewards.

    Remember the rich young ruler who could do everything to be righteous except selling everything he had. And I do believe it is easier to put a camel through a needle's eye than it is for a rich man to make it to heaven.

    I believe that being the possessor of great wealth removes us from reality. Those in need fade into the background as the pursuit of wealth holds the throne. Only by going out and purchasing food or fuel do we feel the sting of much higher prices.

    Great wealth can lead to rampant materialism where we start to love things and use people instead of using things and loving people.

    You are absolutely right that we are to place our faith in God. Faith in anything else is sure to be a rough path. Ultimately money cannot satisfy. It might buy you a nicer car to drive to church or a nicer suit to wear in church or let you feel important, impressed by your own delusions.

    How did Christ live? Did he accumulate wealth? The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

    I'm not sure I said what I set out to say so please pardon my mental meandering. It tends to happen more often all the time.

     
  • At 9/27/2008 2:58 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Jesus pointed at the widow who gave two coins, worth what would be a fraction of a penny to us and said that he gift far out shone that of others give much larger sums. Our Lord knows well that some give small amounts from their smaller incomes and other give larger amounts from their great ability to give and it can all the same. Giving as you can joyfully is great.

    Making up for weeks away when you get back is exactly what I do. It amounts to the same as giving weekly.

     
  • At 9/29/2008 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank You

     

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