Joe is quite right

It happens quite a bit in my experience, Joe being right that is.

Why cant people see that material wealth does not equate with spiritual blessing? It’s the constant battle between the flesh and the spirit I know, and perhaps too its the constant human desire to become like God – or to become a God, but it makes absolutely no sense for a Christian to claim that material prosperity reflects a spiritual blessing – look at Jesus for pity’s sake.

Christianity needs riches like I need another hole in my head.

And I personally still struggle to get past the idea that if I have money in my bank account, while another dies for the lack of $100.00 – I am in some way responsible for their death.

Fortunately for me, its rare for me to have money in my bank account, if that were not the case I would find myself deeply conflicted, and not greatly blessed. Please dont anyone say that old ‘blessed to be a blessing’ chestnut to me either, I toast chestnuts and eat ’em.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Joe is quite right

  1. >And I personally still struggle to get past the idea that if I have money in my bank account, while another dies for the lack of $100.00 – I am in some way responsible for their death.

    If you really believe that, then you should be an investment banker. If someone dies for lack of money that had you been fulfilling your economic potential you could have supplied, then you are in some way responsible for their death.

    1. Its oversimplified I grant you, but sometimes one has to over simplify to get past the BS that gets put up as justification for immoral living. However, that notwithstanding, I disagree. There’s a difference between the ‘moral imperative’ to fulfill economic potential for the good of others, which is a top down approach, and an acceptance of our interconnectedness and a subsequent refusal to take or keep more than you need.

      1. > and an acceptance of our interconnectedness and a subsequent refusal to take or keep more than you need.

        Or give as much as you might?

        > There’s a difference…

        There probably is, but you don’t mention what it is.

        It’s all about how much you owe your fellow man. Everyone draws the line somewhere. Whether it’s at a portion of what they have in their bank account, or at the level of what they have in their account, or higher.

        I know people who took on extra jobs to support those they cared about. Surely saying that people have a moral responsibility to give all they can of their money to those in need, but not all that they can of their time and effort is a weird, almost materialistic, distinction.

        And then of course, there’s the moral responsibility to ensure that the money and time you give is used effectively. If you are helping poor people, but could be earning thousands of pounds an hour instead, you might feel good, but you’d be much more effective by earning the money and donating it to allow others to do the work on the street.

        At the end of the day, people are dying because we don’t help them, and keeping your bank account empty doesn’t get you off the hook.

        There’s more pain, suffering and death out there than an individual can address without giving up absolutely everything in life, including family and friends and celebration, but that level of self sacrifice is not required by God. The poor will always be with us, and we certainly have a responsibility, but it doesn’t extend to everything in our lives.

  2. I’m a poor example, but I think one has to ask whether ‘fulfilling economic potential’ is morally neutral anyway. It might be different if there were contemporary examples of people who, like Wesley, earned a lot of money and lived on the minimum so they could give it all away. I don’t see many examples of people earning high wages and living in basic terrace houses – indeed, almost always it high earners nest themselves in high comfort whilst making a big issue of giving away a tiny percentage of their earnings.

    And then there is a widespread ignorance of wealth – everyone thinks someone else is the wealthy one.

    1. > I don’t see many examples of people earning high wages and living in basic terrace houses

      I’m surprised that you think that you would know of such people, since such a person would be very unlikely to flaunt the fact that they were giving 80% of their income away.

      Also, even if there were none (which I don’t believe for a second), that doesn’t bear on the question of whether there is a moral imperative for idealists to do such a thing.

      1. Well you obviously know different people than I do. Those I know who earn £100k or more a year may well be giving away a large percentage of their income, but they’re also living in large houses and spending a lot on themselves.

        As to idealists, even if there is an imperative as you say (which I don’t accept, by the way) it is clearly not for everyone. Riches corrupt. The teaching in the New Testament is as clear as the back of your hand.

      2. As to your point to Simon, it is almost laughable. The call of Jesus was for his followers to sacrifice everything (follow me!) to lay down their lives (carry your cross) to hold nothing back (your family will hate you). It is exactly a call on ‘absolutely everything in our lives’.

  3. Joe, not sure which point you mean, but I do agree that this is Jesus’ call on our lives, apologies if I give any other impression. Adam, I can’t cope with trying to answer these points in comments, my brain can’t accept the data. However, in a poor attempt I would say the following:
    1) I dont think I made that distinction you mention, I think we should live whole lives which are centred around loving others. The question of money is a pertinent one for each of us, despite what we spend our time doing. I dont accept that the best thing one can do is raise lots of money in order that others can look after the suffering – it’s a popular idea, but not one I agree with. I am in favour of personalism, getting personally involved in the lives of others, which in my experience is much harder, requires more of you, and leaves you out of pocket.
    2) Being effective is not my ambition, being authentic is. I dont believe that there is a shortage of money out there already, there is plenty, what we need is for all of us to live authentically.
    3) I should have made it clear that just keeping an empty bank account is not the goal, after all if I have no cash because I have spent it all on goods then I am just as culpable. This starts with an assumption of integrity when it comes to lifestyle – in the tradition of Wesley for example, or more recently Peter Maurin as only two examples.

    Incidentally there are a few people who I know of who live in the way you mention, earning lots but living on little – funnily enough the two that I can think of are quite anti Christianity. I would expect to know of some people living as Christians in this way, but I dont.

    In conclusion, and perhaps addressing the point Joe refers to above – God does require complete self sacrifice. How about looking at the poor we will always have with us, being true precisely because of the way we live?

      1. [Joe] > It is exactly a call on ‘absolutely everything in our lives’.

        I didn’t mean that. What I meant was that Jesus didn’t call his disciples to give all their money and time in service of the poor.

        There are other valid things to spend money and time on, including friends, family, celebration, praise, mission, etc, despite the fact that somewhere poor people will die because the resources are used in this way.
        [Joe] > Well you obviously know different people than I do.

        Quite possibly.

        [Simon] > Incidentally there are a few people who I know of who live in the way you mention, earning lots but living on little – funnily enough the two that I can think of are quite anti Christianity.

        That’s disappointing.

        [Simon] > Being effective is not my ambition, being authentic is.

        In that case you need to explain why people spending some money on themselves is ‘inauthentic’. Because it’s not just as simple as ‘poor people will die’ as you implied earlier – poor people will die because you weren’t as effective as you could have been, or because you didn’t spend all the time you could have helping them (directly or indirectly), but that apparently doesn’t stop you from being ‘authentic’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s