Friday, November 13, 2009

Make wealth history

Two things I ask of you;
     do not deny them to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
     give me neither poverty nor riches;
     feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you,
     and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
or I shall be poor, and steal,
     and profane the name of my God.

- Proverbs 30.7-9

Poverty is no good thing. But wealth is decidedly dangerous: for one's soul and for the planet. If you are reading this, you are wealthy.

Earn less. Consume less. Be less productive. Live more.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Mike Bull said...


Our problem is we are faced with politicians who think the solution is theft rather than generosity. Only the Spirit of Christ through the gospel can change people so they live according to these wise words.

According to some recent press articles, Copenhagen will turn out to be little more than handing cash to a den of sticky-fingered totalitarian thieves. What are your thoughts on this?

Andrew said...

Pretty confronting post - "if you are reading this, you are wealthy". Thanks, we need to be confronted like that.

byron smith said...

Mike, I'm planning on posting some thoughts on Copenhagen soon. Summary: while I am convinced that there is a very significant need for governments to restrain evil through the regulation of carbon-production, I am quite pessimistic about the likelihood (politically) of a robust outcome and also quite sceptical about the effectiveness (economically, socially and ecologically) of trying to reduce our impact through increasing the reach of the market into more spheres of life.

By the way, good taxation is not theft, if that is what you are referring to. It is a blessing for which I thank God.

One of Freedom said...

Ouch. I resemble that.

Actually I love the title. Earlier today I was trying to recall any Evangelical social justice works that addressed power disparity. I can't think of anything. Most of it works out of notions that want to help the poor but do nothing about the power imbalance of their wealth. I'm not sure what the answer is, a move towards a shared humanity perhaps. But you have the right starting point - Lord have mercy on me too.

byron smith said...

Since this post has generated quite a bit of comment over on Zoomtard, I thought I'd also post here what I just said there:

First, I am a big fan of taxation.

I also think that doing honest work is a blessing from God and enables blessings to flow to others in all kinds of ways. But I am not at all convinced that earning more money equates directly with bringing more blessing to others. To get to that position, you have to accept that everything can and should have a price and that the logic of the marketplace ought to be extended into every sphere of life. I don’t.

So, I am all for people being productive, if we’re talking about producing enough food to eat, clothes to wear, justice to live, reconciliation, joy and peace to thrive. But many of those things have only a tangential relation to making more money. The kind of production I was criticising is the production that chases after earning and consuming more (and so comes after them in my brief post).

Again, wealth in knowledge and wisdom, wealth in good deeds, wealth in creativity: yes. But simply creating higher numbers in a bank balance: no. And what’s worse, so much “wealth creation” is heavily reliant on short-sighted exploitation and destruction of our real wealth in functioning ecosystems, a stable climate, drinkable water and thriving biodiversity. That is not creating wealth; it is selling our birthright for a quick meal.

byron smith said...

Oops, I had meant to include a link to the relevant Zoomtard post.