Economy: Old and New: Weekly Summary

Economy: Old and New

Summary: Sunday, November 24—Friday, November 29, 2019

To understand the Gospel in its purity and in its transformative power, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve.” Can we do that? It’s pretty hard . . . unless we’ve experienced infinite mercy and realize that it’s all a gift. (Sunday)

We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected, and meaningful. —Charles Eisenstein (Monday)

The free market consumer ideology has produced a social disorder; people are no longer embedded in a culture that serves the common wealth, the common good. —Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight (Tuesday)

Ironically, the success of free enterprise capitalism depends upon moral values, such as honesty and compassion, that are borrowed from elsewhere. Without such supporting values, free enterprise (or any other economic system) would eventually self-destruct through its own excesses. —Arthur Simon (Wednesday)

Rather than scarcity’s myths that tell us that the only way to perceive the world is there’s not enough, more is better, and that’s just the way it is, the truth of sufficiency asserts that there is enough for everyone. Knowing there is enough inspires sharing, collaboration, and contribution. —Lynne Twist and Teresa Baker (Thursday)

Relationships are our most powerful and reliable 401k. I’m not saying I don’t believe in universal health care, social security, or other public services, but I do think Jesus is saying the real security system is how we relate, how we love. (Friday)

 

Practice: Activism as a Spiritual Discipline

Pope Francis often says, “This economy kills.” [1] The divide between the wealthy and the poor in the United States continues to grow. A handful of billionaires are literally “making a killing,” while millions who live below the poverty line are “making a dying,” and very few make a fair living. Just one tangible example: without access to affordable health care, roughly “40 percent of Americans [take] on debt because of medical issues.” [2]

How might we participate in co-creating a new economy that is more equitable for all? Jim Wallis writes, “While it is good to protest, having an alternative is better.” [3] And as you may have heard me say before, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” More and more companies are practicing fair trade, reducing waste, using renewable resources, and investing in healthy communities and ecosystems.

The title of Sharif Abdullah’s excellent book, Creating a World that Works for All, is an invitation to us all to participate. In the following excerpt, he invites us to a lifelong practice of the better, the art of being a “Mender” who consciously seeks out opportunities to practice interconnection and interdependence with other beings, which are indeed foundational to any new economy. Abdullah writes:

Being a Mender, an activist for an inclusive society, is a spiritual discipline. We practice a different kind of spirituality: the spirituality of turbulent times [what Barbara Holmes calls crisis contemplation]. Working to alleviate suffering is the way we practice our faith. We try not to act from anger or fear. We act because, in this life we have been given, we believe we can help make things better.

Acting out of compassion to lessen suffering and improve the lives of others is the way we celebrate the Spirit. Knowing that each of our acts, however small, builds the vitality of the Web of Life brings us joy, satisfaction, and power.

In the Spirit-driven model, it doesn’t matter whether a person is “successful” in changing the condition. While practical goals are important, the spiritual goal is to awaken the compassion that lies at the root of all change. “Success” doesn’t mean I’ve saved an endangered species or cleaned up a toxic waste dump or fed hungry children. Success means awakening myself in the Spirit that can help make a better life for others. Success means I have acted in the world as though I were a part of it, not apart from it. Success means becoming conscious of and faithful to my values and to my soul. [4]

We are Menders [when] we believe the Earth and our fellow humans need to be healed from the excesses of exclusivity, and we live our daily lives in accordance with this belief. . . . Our goal is to live as a consciously integral part of a living, conscious, and sacred planet. [5]

You can cultivate Mender skills by developing the following:

  • Your Mender self seeks to transcend the individual self, and desires transcendent experiences.
  • Your Mender self is holistic and ecologic, desires peace and sustainability, and thinks in terms of global realities.
  • Your Mender self desires to practice compassion—for self, others and the more-than-human environment.
  • Your Mender self celebrates and explores its differences from and similarities to The Other. [6]

How will you practice being a Mender today?

References:
[1] Pope Francis outlines key economic struggles in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), his first Apostolic Exhortation (November 24, 2013), http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html, 53-60.

[2] The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Poverty, the War Economy/Militarism and Our National Morality, https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/audit/, 10.

[3] Jim Wallis, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (Harper Collins: 2005, 2006), 280.

[4] Sharif Abdullah, Creating a World that Works for All (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: 1999), 151.

[5] Ibid., 122.

[6] Ibid., 131.

For Further Study:
Sharif Abdullah, Creating a World that Works for All (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: 1999)

Peter Block, Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight, An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture (John Wiley and Sons, Inc.: 2016)

Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition (Evolver Editions: 2011)

Doug Lynam, From Monk to Money Manager: A Former Monk’s Financial Guide to Becoming a Little Bit Wealthy—and Why That’s Okay (W Publishing Group: 2019)

Richard Rohr, Homilies (September 2019), “Capitalist Economy and Gift Economy” and “Money

Arthur Simon, How Much Is Enough?: Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture (Baker Books: 2003)

Lynne Twist with Teresa Barker, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 2003, 2017)

Image credit: Le Denier de la Veuve (The Widow’s Mite) (detail), James Tissot, between 1886 and 1894, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: As long as we operate inside any scarcity model, there will never be enough God or grace to go around. Jesus came to undo our notions of scarcity and tip us over into a worldview of absolute abundance. The Gospel reveals a divine world of infinity, a worldview of enough and more than enough. The Christian word for this undeserved abundance is “grace.” It is a major mental and heart conversion to move from a scarcity model to an abundance model and to live with an attitude of gratitude. —Richard Rohr
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