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I'm curious as to why it's always framed as an either/or. Either we can be spiritual, or we can be rich. We can value God (in whichever form we choose) or we can value money. Why not both? I'm currently taking a course that challenges some of my deep-set attitudes about money, most notably that it's pious to be poor. You know what? It really isn't. There are an increasing number of entrepeneurs (often women) who consider their wealth to have a spiritual/sacred dimension, for whom tithing and charity is a fundamental of their business practice. Obviously, this can then be pushed to an extreme with the American Calvinist view that a wealthy lifestyle declares you to be one of the Elect, and a subsequent disregard for anyone beneath you in the food chain. But one of the things driving me forward right now is the knowledge that by increasing my wealth I can not only improve my family's wellbeing but also put my money to good use with causes I believe in. For the last 10 years I've been a stay at home mother and haven't earned a penny. This year, for the first time, I'm making money from my writing. It's a tiny amount, but I am already tithing. It felt sooo good to give that money to causes that need it (once I'd got past the angst of donating from my paltry income...) - charity is surely a spiritual act, but one that isn't possible unless we also take responsibility for putting our gifts into action in order to create wealth on a more material level. Isn't that partly where the parable of the Talents comes in? That we should be using our gifts, not hiding them out of fear? I dunno, I never heard it explained in a way that fully made sense to me. But I feel the church's insistence on poverty as virtue is more of a hangover of political control, a historical tool to force the masses to accept their lot, rather than a genuine spiritual teaching. There is empty wealth, but there is also meaningful wealth. We are living in a world where greed and power have corrupted the dominant classes - but that doesn't mean that we should accept poverty and powerlessness as a state of grace - more that we should be fighting to take it back from them. Hmm, God, money and politics - I can't understand why I don't get invited to more dinner parties! I'm hugely interested in this as an area of study/debate as it's something I'm questioning in my own life right now - yet I don't feel that I have to choose between money or God, it's possible to see money as a sacred gift.

John Davies

Thanks Katherine - I read your comments 15 minutes before the service began at which I was due to preach my sermon.... and made some late adjustments in recognition of what you said. Preachers only have ten minutes in which to get something across, and so sometimes have to lose the nuances of an argument and get 'oppositional'; but the nuances are important, and so after reading your comments I did try to drip in the idea that part of being 'rich towards God' is taking what financial wealth we have as a gift from God and using it accordingly, for good. It is important to affirm that whilst there is empty wealth, there is also meaningful wealth. I also agree that the idea that poverty is in some way a state of grace, is deeply flawed. The 'state of grace' comes from a person's inner attitude towards their outer circumstances: so whilst there is 'meaningful' poverty there can also be 'empty' poverty, and to my mind Jesus spent much of his time challenging this. Important I think to remember that the passage I preached on here is a challenge to someone already very rich, increasing his wealth even further whilst ignoring everyone else.

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