Class

illustration
Illustration by Khara Scott-Bey from Big Topics at Midnight

In a culture in which money equals power, how do we align our money with our hearts and with Spirit?

The term "class" means different things to different people. The best working definitions of each class I've found was written by Class Matters' author Betsy Leondar-Wright.

No matter where we fall on the spectrum, our challenge is to align our money with our hearts and Spirit. As a rich person (to be specific, lower owning class), however, Jesus' challenge is clear. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. Yet, scripture goes on to say, with God, all things are possible.

We live in a “transnational corporation” world where money is tangled with power, access, privilege and greed. In that context, whether we are rich or poor or somewhere in between, wealth can skew our sight, personal values and behavior. Distorted behaviors often have deep roots in assumptions below our awareness.

Looking back at our lives (possibly writing our own Money Autobiography) we can dig up the roots of our relationship with money and bring unconscious patterns to light. As our understanding increases, our financial behaviors begin to align more deeply with our values.

I love Harvest Time’s focus on “money as the doorway to spiritual transformation.” For most of my adult life, as I’ve excavated my relationship with money in light of my faith and invited others to join me in that exploration, I’ve found this focal statement to ring true.

Working with money and faith wasn’t exactly what I pictured for my life’s work when I walked the halls of Midland High School. I even hated economics in college. I’ve since learned that the word economics comes from the Greek word oikonomia, meaning "management of a household.” Given that my household includes my global neighbors and all of our children and grandchildren, I guess it makes sense that economics would be at the heart of my vocation.

Photo
Rose Feerick, Nancy, Howard, Judy Bork
Harvest Time retreat circle gathering

Today’s pressing question: how do we stand steady while outdated economic structures continue to crumble?

We can’t return to an economy based on continued economic growth, as we’ve hit the earth’s ecological limits. We also can’t return to an economy which institutes systems and rules that support the building of wealth for some while undermining or ignoring abundance for many. In these unsteady times, it’s easy to let money fears rage, but fear will not help future generations.

Instead, we must learn to stand, even if our knees wobble, looking for the doorway into a new money paradigm wide enough to support us all, together.

Continue the Big Topic Conversations

I continue to dive deeper into class on my Big Topics Blog:

Money and Transformation: Diversity
Economic Justice: Beyond Just Words
Our Financial Legacy
Sometimes Confession is the Best Response
Race, Class and Violence
"I Can't Believe It Happened Here"

Businesses or organizations that support my money journey:

Harvest Time
Be Present, Inc.
United for a fair Economy (and Responsible Wealth project)
Portfolio 21 Investments
RSF Social Finance

Class Reading Corner:

Charles Eisenstein. The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2013.

Portfolio 21 Investments. PEAK: Investing at the Edge of Ecological Limits (Portland: Portfolio 21, 2011)
This is a beautifully written and illustrated description of the current moment of history where we have hit the edge of our Earth’s ecological limits for providing natural resources and absorbing and cleaning our wastes, and how this can be taken into account with business and investing.

Brian Miller and Mike Lapham. The Self-Made Myth and the Truth about How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed(San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2012)
I just ordered this book and, as a granddaughter of “self-made men,” am eager to read Miller and Lapham’s exploration of how US laws selectively support only certain people to succeed in business and life.

Jacob Needleman. Money and the Meaning of Life (New York: Currency Doubleday, 1991)
This classic book explores the intersection of money and the spiritual journey—the meaning of life—set within the context of our human and natural lives. I love his fresh insights.

Foster Gamble and Kimberly Carter Gamble. THRIVE 
This movie and web site are a bold sharing of the fruits of Foster Gamble's life-long research and best understanding of the things that are interfering with our thriving here at this midnight hour. Whenever Foster finds societal practices that don’t make sense, he starts looking for clues by following the money—seeking to understand who is paying for and benefiting from the practice. THRIVE stimulates critical conversations and supports people to come together to take concrete actions.

When I read Big Topics at Midnight, I was struck by how much work it takes to make decisions that are different than the norm of the culture you happen to be in. To decide to spend/invest/save differently than what is done in popular culture is actually hard work.
-Kathy Crisp, Teacher, Village Free School

It takes courage to confront your own class and race privilege, and then a whole lot more courage to lay out your struggles for all to share. Big Topics at Midnight is a thoughtful and deeply personal reflection of one woman's journey that couldn't come at a better time, given the polarization of income, wealth and power in this country.
-Mike Lapham, Director of the Responsible Wealth project at United for a Fair Economy and author of The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed

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