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The Soul of Money

Lynne Twist tells marvelous stories to illustrate the rich insights of The Soul of Money. A reading of this book could be a transforming experience.

- Glenn Taibl

The Soul of Money

Lynne Twist's, The Soul of Money is affirming for those who believe God's view for how we use financial resources is much different than the default view of today's culture.  It is also thought provoking, and even disturbing, when you realize that she is talking about you personally as she probes the possibility that our relationship to money is not always congruent with our core values and, therefore, not healthy to our well-being.

We are the conduit through which money flows for the sake of others in this world.  When we block this life-giving flow because we have succumbed to toxic myths of scarcity there will be impact on others and upon ourselves. How we view and use money shapes us and we may be shaped into a creation that is at odds with the person we thought we saw in the mirror this morning. There is an alternative way of looking at money in relationship to life that exposes scarcity myths as lies and leads to a better way to steward our money from a centered commitment.

Twist leads the reader from scarcity myths to the truths to sufficiency.  The author takes us on a journey that has the possibility to change the dream for the good. While Lynne Twist does not write from a theological perspective, she is faithful to a view of money that is congruent with "best practices" for Christian stewardship.  This was one of the best stewardship books I have read in a long time.

More detailed summary:

"The Soul of Money offers a way to realign our relationship with money to be more truthful, free and potent, enabling us to live a life of integrity and full self-expression that is consistent with out deepest core values, no matter what our financial circumstances."  Lynne Twist begins her helpful journey with a statement that expresses the desire that most of us have in regard to our financial resources.   We want to live lives of congruence and faithfulness between belief and practice.  In the commentary that follows I have summarized the book's content using key paragraphs from the text.

Part One -- Love, Lies and the Great Awakening -- Chapters 1 & 2
Money has only the power we assign to it but the problem is that we have assigned it great power.  There are times that the power of money has eroded our highest commitments and deeply held core values.  Money isn't the problem. Money isn't bad or good.  It is our interpretation of money and our interaction with it where the problem lies.  This is also the place where we have the possibility of the greatest opportunity for personal transformation.  

Part Two -- Scarcity and Sufficiency: The Search for Prosperity -- Chapters 3 & 4
No matter who we are or what our circumstances, we swim in conversations about what there isn't enough of.  This is scarcity.  Scarcity is the chronic sense of inadequacy about life and it becomes the very place from which we think and act and live in the world.  It shapes the deepest sense we have about ourselves, and becomes the lens through which we experience life.

Scarcity is a lie, but it has been passed down as truth that demands compliance and discourages doubt or questioning.
In the mind-set of scarcity we find three central myths that have come to define our relationship with money and that block our access to more honest and fulfilling interactions with it.

1. There's not enough. The first myth generates fear and defines our world as deficient and results in marginalizing our most important relationships.

2. More is better.  The second myth drives a competitive culture of accumulation, acquisition and greet that heightens our fear of not enough.  Twist says this is a chase with no end and a race without winners.  Our drive to enlarge our net worth turns us away from discovering our self-worth.

3. That's just the way it is.  The third myth leaves us with the conclusion that there's no way out. When we succumb to this myth we have given ourselves a life-sentence of illusion over reality.

The author relates a story of her encounter, and later friendship, with Buckminster Fuller where he stated that we need to move from a "you or me" world view to a "You and me" world view.  For Twist this is the myth buster.

Opposite the lie of Scarcity is the truth of Sufficiency.  Sufficiency isn't an amount but rather an experience, a context we generate, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.  In our relationship to money it is using money in a way that expresses our integrity; using it in a way that expresses value rather than determines value.  Sufficiency creates a new relationship with life.  Sufficiency teaches us to be stewards of money rather than gatherers of money.  It teaches us to bring intelligence and quality to our use of financial resources.

Part Three- Sufficiency: The Three Truths -- Chapters 5-7
Just as there were three myths about Scarcity there are three truths about Sufficiency.

1. Money is like water.  Money rushes through the lives of some people and trickles through the lives of others but the point is to guide money to do the most good for the most folks.  This was a quote from a person we would consider poverty-stricken but who saw herself as rich with sufficiency.  The power of money is really derived from the intention we give to it.  Money is about allocation over accumulation or what we do with it rather than how much we keep. When we direct the flow we will feel wealthy no matter the amount.

2. What you Appreciate Appreciates.  We have the opportunity to direct our attention in the way we relate to money, and when we do it empowers us.  It becomes who we are and what we are about.  When we direct our attention to creativity, courage and integrity, we become expressions of those qualities in whatever we do in our interactions with money. While Lynne Twist is not confessional Christian in her book we can see that the qualities of faithful witness and service are at work with what the reader may appreciate.

3. Collaboration Creates Prosperity.  Collaboration and reciprocity are natural, and yet, in the world we inhabit, competition and fear of scarcity often block us from seeing these ways of being with one another. Collaboration leads us to and grounds us in sufficiency.  Implicit in collaboration is the trust that says there is enough and we will figure out how to use it together wisely.  In our relationship with money, collaboration frees us from the obligatory chase to acquire more in order to feel we have enough, and becomes an opportunity to make a difference with what we have.

Part Four -- Change the Dream -- Chapters 8-12

Historically, the world as we have envisioned it has seemed to be a world where fixed, finite resources are declining so fast that we must compete in any way and at any cost to be among the people who can survive on top. We strive to eliminate the competition.  We erode our true wealth, the creative power and ingenuity of all people, that wealth that is inherent in all of life.  We need to change this world vision.

We can change the dream by taking a stand in how we express ourselves in the way we use money.  We change the dream when our use of money reflects our own sense of self.  For the Christian, the sense of self is to manage life with Christ at the center.  We each have the power to arrange life so that the stand we take with our money and our life with money is a right-now, every-day, every-week expression of our core values, not a some-day, next-year, ore when-I-retire or when-I-have enough expression.  Money carries the power and attention we give to it.

The dream and vision of the world is changed through our conversation.  We think we live in the world.  We think we live in a set of circumstances, but we don't.  We live in our conversations about the world and our conversations about the circumstances.  When we're in a conversation about fear and terror, about revenge and anger and retribution, jealousy and envy and comparison, then that is the world we inhabit.  If we're in a conversation about possibility, a conversation about gratitude and appreciation for the things in front of us, then that's the world we inhabit.

Teilhard de Chardin said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience."  When money is seen as an instrument that is aligned with our soul, then the prosperity, joy and sufficiency will flourish.  It isn't about money but its use as an instrument of soul.

Lynne Twist tells marvelous stories to illustrate the rich insights of the soul of money.  A reading of this book could be a transforming experience.

- Reviewed by Glenn Taibl, Stewardship Pastor, Incarnation Lutheran Church, Shoreview, MN.


Lynne Twist is a fund raiser for the Hunger Project where she has raised more than $150M and is a volunteer for community based development.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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