Theology of Money $$$

Different Worlds… Or Maybe Just Different Opinions

Prosperity Theology vs. Liberation Theology. That is how I’d like to frame this discussion. There are those that believe that we are called to be blessed. There are those that believe that we are called to defend and liberate the oppressed. The more conversations I have about money lately, the more I realize I am on the liberation front. My heart is with those of the lower income variety. In our context, it is with the people of my neighborhood that struggle to find a job, keep a job, keep their home, feed their family, those that are lonely, tired, addicted, and seemingly forgotten. I might actually be finished in life materialistically speaking. I’ve lost everything once and have since detached from “stuff”. Yet I have already accumulated more than I want. I have a decent house. I have a decent job. I am purchasing a vehicle that will hopefully drive me through at least the next decade or more. Shouldn’t I freely be giving what I don’t need? Or should I, perhaps, upgrade my electronics? God would want me to upgrade my television. Right?

Give it All Away and Follow Me… Or Not, Whichever

Jesus, what do you think about me and my stuff you have blessed me with?

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Mt19:21

I hear, but I don’t hear. You know? That couldn’t apply to today’s culture, right? Perhaps we could consider this a friendly nudge about where our priorities are. I am currently not bold enough to literally do this. Physically, I don’t even know what to follow. Jesus has not revealed himself in human form to me that I know of. At least not in an obvious way that he did to the disciples. I think from this passage we can gather an idea of what is important and what might not be as important when it comes to God’s kingdom.

Eye of a Needle… Small Spaces

Ok, new strategy. Perhaps if I work and concentrate my life to building up wealth, and I keep the intention of giving a lot of it away a priority God would bless that and give me a nice pat on the back at the Pearly Gates. Jesus, what do you think of that?

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mk10:25

Well, it seemed like a logical strategy. I mean, God isn’t exactly saying that it cannot be done. Perhaps this is another friendly nudge to think about our priorities.

The Love of Money… Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all

Can we focus on the things that Jesus focused on and keep our monetary motivation? I’d like to think of myself as a multi-tasker. Jesus, are you down with my multi-tasking skills?

 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Mt6:24

Ok, now I am just being silly. Jesus loves my multi-tasking skills. I am eavesdropping on a conversation, drinking a latte, and thinking about pizza as I am writing this. Check out my next article on the love of food.

The Case for Oprah… It’s Good to be Queen

I heard recently that ministries need millionaires. Look how generously some of them give. They support important kingdom work. My thought to this is simple. If you are goal oriented enough to become a millionaire than it is probably likely that this quest consumes a large portion of your attention, your mind, and your heart. Most millionaires didn’t get there by accident, though some certainly inherited their wealth. I am not going so far as to say that anyone is living a sinful life or has idols that they shouldn’t. That is not for me to decide. I am simply focused on my family and myself. When I am in a position to dialogue with others, this is the view that I share. If you are rich, know that you are loved and no less valuable to God. I just ask that you consider your priorities and consider whether or not you would like to donate to my non-profit organization. All kidding aside, let’s be careful about what blessings we teach about. For those who like a third opinion let’s ask Paul. Hey Paul, any thoughts on money? Could I be wrong about how you shouldn’t dwell on it so much?

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Tim 6:10

Seems harsh, do you even know what love is? Oops, wrong person to ask. (See Corinthians13)

Joy in Nothingness

The beautiful thing about forming our theology is that it is always open to interpretation and dialogue. If it is not, you may have stopped learning and growing. I understand that I write this from a place of privilege. I understand that some struggle financially more than others. I also understand the relative nature of poverty and the relative nature of wealth. However, I cannot just sit by and say nothing while preachers proclaim that God wants us to be rich! I’m tired of prosperity verses taken out of context. I cannot sit by and say nothing while preachers equate blessings with wealth! God is into love. He is into relationships. He is not into money.

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What About My Neighborhood

I am overwhelmed with the amount of information I have taken in these last few months on everything violent and everything racial. A quick glance at any social media outlet shows us this is becoming the new norm. Everyone wants to be heard, from the stifling cries for justice in New York City to the ones in Ferguson, Missouri. People are destroying their cities all the way to the west coast in the name of the martyrs that paid the ultimate price to bring us thoughtful and sometimes hostile conversation on the matters that plague an often-marginalized population.

Here is my problem. I feel that this has taken a toll on me emotionally. And I imagine that this has taken a toll on a lot of people. It is not easy to keep discourse civil. It is not easy to learn that some of your friends or family have completely different thought processes than you on matters of justice, racism, theology, or life in general. This leads me to the biggest part of my personal problem. I feel as though I cannot turn the violence off.

My wife and I purposely moved into a neighborhood known for violence, poverty, unemployment, dilapidated housing, that harbors a huge resentment for politicians as well as ministries, and that knows a lot about hopelessness and despair. We believe that we currently are and will continue to be a part of the positive change happening around us. We believe in the relationships that we are building with neighbors in the community. We believe in the programs that we have initiated.

I’ve been talking until I am breathless about the hope and vision that members of our community have. I’ve been trying to appeal to people with similar thinking about our desire to have people see the value to where we are at. I feel that people are starting to see the value that we see. Then something happens.

Currently my heart is grieving for the family of a young man that I knew who was shot and killed in a robbery nearby and the man with him that was beaten with a bat. The funeral was yesterday and a lot of the community is still shaken up about it, as the suspects in the attack have not been apprehended. These types of crimes make seeing hope difficult.

I awoke today to more news. A friend of mine, who has been a huge point of connection for me to the neighborhood, was shot 4 times last week and is in serious condition. Not only that, but his girlfriend’s house was shot at several times a few days later, by someone who approached and knocked on the door. One person was wounded in the attack.

I don’t know what anybody reading this thinks of the systemic injustices that lead to events that make national news, but I know this. These same systemic injustices exist in our own community. Policeman did not carry out these crimes. It is not even believed that white people carried out these crimes. I know the victims of these crimes and I know others that have committed similar crimes. I see first hand what they have had to overcome. I see first hand what they are trying to overcome. Often it is social problems that have existed in their families for generations. Often it is an institutionalized form of racism that exists in all of our communities. At times, they are trying to make a better life for themselves or families after being incarcerated. The same opportunities for success just aren’t there. The quality of education is not there. The expectation to live a quality life is also not there.

These are not the first people in my neighborhood that have been shot or killed in our neighborhood. They probably won’t be the last. I wish I could just turn it off like the news and go about my life. I wish I could shut down my computer and make it all go away until next time I log into facebook, but I can’t. I am not as committed to being an Internet activist, because seeing societal injustice, and being an advocate in my daily life is enough for me. I am concerned about things happening at the national level. I even have opinions about it. But I have to be intentional about what is right in front of me. I have to be intentional about living the gospel the best way I know how.

I am disappointed there are not community conversations happening about this. I am disappointed there are not collaborations happening that help address the needs of the neighborhood and greater community, but I am committed to reconciliation, and I am committed to doing what I can to help bring about more collaborative efforts and strengthen our community.

I am approached on a regular basis about my work in the community and how others can help. Sometimes, I feel like perhaps sometimes I accidentally give off a glamorous impression of community development work. I write this simply to let you know that I am struggling. This is difficult. It is often lonely and tiresome work, work that takes a long time. Relationships don’t form over night. There is no reason to expect change to happen over night.

If you have read this far, thanks for caring. If you want to know how you can help there are two ways.

  • Your friendship
  • Your prayers

If you are a part of the West side of Anderson, consider how you can be a part of our efforts and walk this out with us.

To stay connected to our community check us out on facebook. I plan to post updates more often.

https://www.facebook.com/epiccdc

RIP Brandon

BrandonB

End of the Road

At the end of my Camino I decided I wanted to take the time to walk to “the end of he world” as many have traditionally done. I made this decision based on one ritual that has taken place for centuries. Druids, as well as Christians believed this to be the place to make sacrifices as well as offerings to whatever they believed in. Sunset is said to be a magical time.
About a month ago, In Pamplona I overheard talk of a prayer journal. It was at this time I thought of doing the same thing, but mine turned out a bit different. After a long and tiring first day, I realized I had a lot of angry and bitter thoughts about my past. I realize this may come off as needing professional help, but often the things that keep me up at night are things that have upset me for years. Even as early as elementary school. I am no longer ashamed to admit that things that upset me even for the briefest of moments have stayed with me.
Every day of this journey I took time to write these things that I thought about while walking. I even took the time to write questions to God about those things as well as others. Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t I have this in my life? Why did so many leave me before it was their time? Why, why, why. Could I have been? Should I have been? Where to go from here? I easily spent 10 to 20 minutes per day writing about this.
I figured out about a week or so back what I needed to do. As I walked away from Cruz de Ferro more bitter than ever, I felt a strong urge to dwell on things. Then after having the realization that I would never get answers, I realized it is better to lose my questions. But can you really do this? I think so. As I prayed and prayed, my journal kept popping up in my mind. One night I even dreamt of being a child and writing in it.
In a more recent tradition pilgrims often burn their clothes, boots, or socks at the shore at Faro. (end of the world) I imagine, especially from looks and conversations, that I am among the few to bring a journal.
As I placed it near a stone cross that had many offerings around it, I could no longer fight the tears. Some because of what I have accomplished and others because of the fact all my pain and anger was poured into those pages. As I watched the pages slowly burn I thought more of my children, as thoughts of being a part time father were a prevalent theme through out my journal. It has always been easy to say that they belong to God and not me. I have to have faith and trust. The years of crying myself to sleep say that I don’t really believe that. I also thought of many other things. But something is different now. I truly believe that something terrible has died inside of me. Something beautiful
and extraordinary has been born. With the ocean breeze and the sound of water crashing on rocks around me, I couldn’t help but smile. I began to walk away. Perhaps my body had just had the realization that i didn’t have my backpack on this walk, but I realized my body felt truly great. My camino friend then broke our long silence. “It’s good. Like 1000 kilos off your back.” I nodded In agreement. “Maybe even 10,000.”

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Moving Towards Clarity

“It is the experiences, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it’s great to be alive!” – Chris Mcandless

Amazing how things change. I am enjoying the walking despite the fact my feet never completely get used to it. I am enjoying the heat of the sun, as well as appreciating the cool mountain breeze that follows. I am enjoying the climbing of hills and mountains, as well as looking back on what I have accomplished. I am enjoying getting to hear and understand the lives of others. I even enjoy walking side by side in silence with new friends, because it is getting tough and we don’t want to complain, or simply because we are thinking. Also, It is nice that I can now offer the help and encouragement I once desperately needed to others.
This beautiful journey to Santiago is almost over. There are kilometer markers along the way. Just today I passed the 37 km mark. I’ll be in Santiago the day after tomorrow. As my thoughts have shifted intently to home, I’ve decided I will continue on to Finisterre as well as Muxia. One last thing I have to make sure I do.
Link http://www.caminosantiagodecompostela.com/camino-de-santiago-finisterre-muxia/

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Enjoying some massage time with friends.

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I often don’t know what the signs mean here, but I still like them.

Walking Strong

Today marked a special occasion. After heading up mountain the last 3 days, I would reach Cruz de Ferro this morning. This is the highest point on the camino at around a mile above sea level. I set out early to make it by sunrise. As it began to get light out I could see the proud iron cross at the top of the hill. Immediately my emotions got the best of me as I squeezed tightly to my stone. I put a lot of prayer and thought into this stone. I rubbed my left thumb dry with it as I walked. At the foot of the cross is a mound of stones to climb. It now occurred to me that I am literally walking on the prayers, the hopes and dreams, as well as the pain and hurt of perhaps millions of pilgrims before me. I glanced at notes and stones with writing on them. I glanced at photos withering away to nothing.
Some how participating in this ritual didn’t seem appealing. I confessed to god that I don’t understand why and I don’t know how to let go. I don’t understand how it is possible.
I tossed my stone to the ground and moved on. Somehow I saw this going different. It wasn’t until I left Cruz de Ferro that I started to think with a clear head. I made it a long day because I couldn’t wait to get off of that mountain. I walked the entire day alone on purpose. It’s been good reflecting back on this journey. It’s been good that through my minor injuries, the camino has slowed me to a more thoughtful pace. I hope my life at home will be an extension of this.

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Why I Walk

For reasons I won’t whine about at this time, I have been thinking a lot about suffering, as well as our fragile human condition. I think that without suffering joy loses it’s meaning. I think God often gives is way more than we can handle no matter how much you misinterpret that scripture that says otherwise. It is interesting that we often choose a faith that favors our outcomes, then abandon our beliefs when bad things happen. Look at how the son of God suffered. To accept Christ is to accept suffering.
As I walk it is easy to begin to feel sorry for myself. Then I talk to other peregrinos. We have been sharing much about our lives with each other over the last 3 days and formed a pretty tight group looking out for one another. The shared things we have suffered have brought us closer together. Knowing the things we have suffered in life have brought us closer. I am thankful for experiences like this that fulfill the community need I have secretly been craving a lot of my life, and am currently trying to build in my daily life back home. Ok, getting off track with a lot of random thoughts here. The last thing I’ll say right now is that I am pressing on. Today was probably the hottest day and I am feeling a bit fatigued on top of my other issues. But I think of the suffering of others and it inspires and motivates me. I think of those in my life that have come and gone, I think of loved ones lost, and those that may never walk again. I think of those that would love to be able to trade places with me. It seems stupid to have this realization now, but I am not just doing this for me.

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Najera

I’ve been learning a lot about myself these past few days. My body is slowly recovering as it feels a little bit better each day. Still the camino had pushed me to my limits several times. I have had to fight through some pretty intense pain coming from my feet and my knees to keep going. Going slow makes me much less tired, but does not help the pain.
People are becoming more familiar and conversation is more frequent. The last few days I took it very slow. It is funny constantly catching up to people who passed me on the trail, while they are taking breaks. I feel like the pace setter as they usually get moving when they see me.
Last night was amazing. Found a free bed at a monastery. They were overwhelmingly hospitable. I attended mass at the church that is connected. Afterwards we had an amazing dinner prepared by the volunteers where I stayed. Then a time of reflection and prayer for our journeys. We finished with a time of encouraging words to one another. It was great to get to know some others on a personal level. More on that later! It was perfect and also quiet, which is hard to come by sometimes. Amazing to find this free service along the way.
I’m learning and I’m appreciating more each day. Beginning to embrace my journey.

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Community Dinner