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The Almighty Dollar: In What God Do We Trust Appendix: Faith and Money Ministry Resources

Article  Article

The author gives a summation of helpful Faith and Money Resources including:

The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist

The Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder

A Woman's Book of Money and Spiritual Vision by Rosemary Willams

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robbin

The Price of Faith by Marie Cross


The Almighty Dollar: In What God Do We Trust
Appendix: Faith and Money Ministry Resources



1. The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist:  Although not an explicitly a Christian approach, Twist's message is profoundly religious.  Twist is focused on the core meaning of our lives and how the contemporary money culture has impacted that core meaning.  The money culture that North Americans are born into has created a great divide between money and soul reflected by a relationship with money [that] is a deeply conflicted one, and...behavior with and around money [that] is often at odds with our most deeply held values, commitments, and ideals...The money culture has shaped us in many ways that we would not choose in a more conscious soulful process, driving us such that we unwittingly undermine and erode those most deeply human values and highest commitments, and at times turn away from the very ones we profess to hold dear.[1]

At the center of this dichotomy is our belief in the "myth of scarcity" that we can never have enough.  She contrasts her work with some of the poorest people in Africa, Asia and Latin America with her fund-raising work with wealthy North Americans.  She has found many groups of indigenous poor people who continue to live in a framework of sustainability and sufficiency, and are more likely to bring attitudes of sharing and "the commons" to economic issues that the wealthy do.  She has found most Americans, regardless of income level to be trapped in the myths of "not enough," " more is better," and "That's just the way it is" (about money and other economic issues).  To challenge these myths, we need to focus on the "biggest, most unquestioned answer of our culture...our relationship with money."[2]

Twist outlines a series of inspiring stories and steps for taking a stand against the "silent power of our money culture."  She urges us to engage in conversations about money with our families and our communities that are based on the "context of sufficiency."  She stresses the importance of leaving our children a " legacy of enough" through how we live as opposed to leaving them vast amounts of assets when we die.  By listening, engaging in culture challenging conversation and taking a stand with our money, "we gain access to deep and profound vision."[3]

By letting go of the three myths of scarcity (which closely parallel numerous gospel parables), Twist believes that we have the opportunity "to live a life of integrity and full expression that is consistent with our deepest core values."  For Twist, embracing an ethic of sufficiency can open a journey with money that will be a path of spiritual growth and transformation.  She says:
I have come to understand some of the universal truths about money.  I am moved by the struggle we all have with money.  I now see that this arena in which we brush up against the hard realities of live can be the place where we develop a kind of spiritual practice in which we use the money comes to us as an instrument of our intention and integrity.[4]


2. The Seven Stages of Money Maturity by George Kinder:   Kinder provides a valuable guide to understanding the deep feelings and beliefs we have about money and offers a spiritual path for recreating our attitudes and behavior with money.  Kinder, a long practicing financial planning advisor, applies insights he has gained from the study and practice of Buddhism and other religious traditions to develop a holistic exploration of the role money plays in our lives.  For Kinder, money maturity means moving beyond the skills of managing money to exploring our feelings, our heart and our soul in relation to money.  Kinder believes that working through the seven stages of money maturity not only frees one from individual conflicts around money and the "greed of Wall Street," but also "offers the ease and success that come from letting go of old, painful patterns around money and learning how to create your own life based on a deepened understanding of your power and purpose."  Borrowing from Buddhism and his study of Dante, Blake and Shakespeare, Kinder's seven stages of money maturity combine "worldly" elements of money wisdom ,such as financial planning and developing a savings discipline, with methods for discerning one's life purpose and achieving spiritual peace.  However even the practical elements have a spiritual overtone.  For example, Kinder portrays saving as a "path of renunciation.  When we save, we push away instant gratification...for a deeper sense of the whole of our lives...we are looking into ourselves.  We are steeping ourselves in the Knowledge of living with the integrity that leads to freedom."[5]

While Kinder believes that an individual cycles through all seven stages[6] repeatedly, his goal is helping his clients identify and incorporate the seventh stage, which he calls "Aloha", or having the wisdom about money where "living is giving."  For Kinder, Francis of Assisi embodied the essence of Aloha in the way he showed kindness for everyone he met, a kindness rooted deeply in his perception of truth and purpose.  The life of poverty chosen by St. Francis was rooted his knowledge and deep understanding of money, not on an innocent compulsive decision.  Whether or not one chooses a vow of poverty, Kinder believes that each of us can tap into "powerful and profound...moments of generosity and kindness" similar to those experienced by St. Francis.  Even seemingly insignificant acts of kindness can change "us deep within.  And it moves the world."[7]

3.  A Woman's Book of Money and Spiritual Vision by Rosemary Williams:  Williams provides a "workshop in a book" for grappling with our interwoven life journeys of money and spiritual wisdom.  While based on her experience in working with women, Williams "money journey circle" is equally appropriate for men.  A financial planner and former banker, Williams has developed a process for exploring how the "the spiritual dimension [of] money...can be tapped for [both individual] and for global benefit."[8]  Williams money circle journey covers six stages[9] that help the participant identify their attitudes about money, understand their current financial facts and explore how to align "facts and feelings with your core desires and intentions."  While the process is clearly outlined and the detailed worksheets provided allow for individual work, the journey of money and spirituality is enriched when her process is used in a group setting.

4.  Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin:  This book offers a nine-step process for transforming one's relationship with money.  Dominguez and Robin offer a "whole system" approach for integrating money with all of one's life.  They observe how people's relationship with money all too frequently takes control of life by demanding more and more time and attention.  They promote a vales-based approach that they call FI thinking.  FI thinking is rooted in financial integrity, which means aligning money decisions with core values and ultimate life purpose.  By understanding what is enough as opposed to the culture's drive to have more and more, they promote the goal of financial independence--an independence that comes from freeing oneself from culturally imposed financial beliefs combined with accumulating enough capital, primarily through reduced spending, to allow more options in vocational decisions.  They assert that true "Financial Independence is the experience of having enough...The old notion of Financial Independence as being rich forever is not achievable.  Enough is.  Enough for you may be different from enough for your neighbor--but it will be a figure that is real for you and within your reach."[10]  Cultivating an attitude of enough is a freedom at a psychological level as much as it is at a financial level.  Their nine-step program[11] is offered through churches and other organizations and involves a detailed tracking of income (including the full costs of making that income) as well as careful tracking of all expenses.  Through a "life energy" calculation process, individuals can reprioritize their earning and spending decisions.[12]

5.  The Price of Faith by Marie Cross:   Cross offers a congregation-based process for exploring faith and money issues.  While her focus is on the call of Christian stewardship, she raises issues about money and wealth that touch the whole of a person's life.  Her ten-part study program[13] incorporates some of the deepest issues that Christians face in integrating their faith and money lives.  For example in the Bible study session devoted to work, earnings and stewardship, Price raises the central issue of vocation (how we struggle or not to align earning money with our core values) as well as addressing questions about accumulation and personal lifestyle.  Throughout her proposed course of study, Price encourages each believer to understand how their faith calls them to make money and stewardship decisions based on their particular responsibilities and faith understandings.  In all cases, however, she holds out the hope for the transforming power of giving in our lives and in our faith community.  Cross concludes with a holistic perspective on stewardship that clearly integrates faith and money rooted in the broader society, but in a manner profoundly refocused from the prosperity doctrine:
As Christians, we are called to live as if we are already a part of God's economy--an economy in which everyone is respected for the work and the gifts he or she contributes, everyone has enough to eat and to stay warm and safe, and everyone enjoys the gifts they have received from God and fins pleasure in sharing them with others.  We are to live as if our personal, family, church, and community lives are part of, but only part of, the household of God, which is the whole creation...When we gather as a Christian community to worship, study, and serve, we join our desires to live more faithfully.  We become true stewards of our time, energy, imagination, abilities, opportunities, relationships--and our money, wealth, and possessions in life of the household of God.  Together, may we discover the true price of faith as we grow in wisdom, offer hospitality to all, and share with one another the blessings, struggles, and joys of living as faithful stewards.[14]

Footnotes
[1] Twist, 11-12.
[2] Twist, 66.
[3] Ibid., 191.
[4] Ibid., xxi, 191
[5] Kinder, 172.
[6] Kinder, 14-24.  The seven stages of money maturity can be summarized as: innocence (the beliefs, thoughts and assumptions about money we inherited from our family and culture); pain (discoveries about the world money--e.g. that each of us is both richer and poorer than others); knowledge (both understanding the virtues of money and gaining competencies in working with money); understanding (by addressing deep feelings about money and how to gain peace mid stress and anxiety with money); vigor (finding freedom in the world of money by identifying our particular purpose in life and putting our energy there); vision (matching our inward focus with our outward focus and learning how to use money as a conduit for our soul flowing into the world); and aloha (a deep wisdom of money that manifests itself as a life of radical generosity).
[7]Kinder, 300, 302.
[8]Rosemary Williams with Joanne Kabak, A Woman's Book of Spiritual Vision: Putting Your Financial Values into Spiritual Perspective (Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 2001), 15.
[9] "Stage 1--Money Messages:  The myths about money you grew up with, believe in and live out; Stage 2--Money Autobiography:  The story of your experiences and relationships with money; Stage 3--Money Facts & Feelings:  The uncovering of your financial facts and how you feel about them; Stage 4--Alignment: the integration of your facts, feelings and actions with your spiritual core; Stage 5--Dreams:  The exploration of your call; [and] Stage 6--Action:  the formation of your future though specific steps," Williams, 31.
[10]  Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life:  Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, second edition (New York: Penguin Books, 1999 (1992)), 57.
[11] Dominguez and Robin's nine steps are:  (1) Make peace with your past:  total your lifetime earnings to date and prepare a current balance sheet of financial assets and liabilities; (2) Track your life energy:  Calculate your real hourly wage and track every cent that goes in and out of your life; (3) Do monthly tabulation:  Create your own income and spending categories and track money ins and outs by category and convert dollars spent by category into hours of life energy; (4) Evaluate expenditures and life energy spent by category and rate each category expenditure for fulfillment and satisfaction as well as alignment with your core values and life purpose; (5) Make life energy visible:  Make a keep up-to-date a chart of monthly income and expense categories; (6) Value life energy be minimizing spending:  Embrace the concept of enough and be more conscious about each spending decision; (7) Value life energy by maximizing income:  Align your work with your values or find work that pays well that is consistent with your health and integrity; (8) Know your capital crossover point:  Achieve financial independence by saving and building monthly investment income until it meets your minimum spending needs; (9) Managing your finances:  Become knowledgeable enough about long-term income-producing investments so that you can manage your finances yourself.
[12]Life energy is the amount of time you have left to live, based on your life expectancy.  Life energy can be related to money by accounting for all the hurs you spend working plus the time spent preparing to work (commuting, costuming, job-related illnesses) and comparing it to the net wage your receive (Net paych3eck minus expenses for maintaining your job).  Dominguez and Robins advocate evaluating how one's expenditure of life energy aligns with your values and life purpose.

[13]Cross' ten-part program:  (1) Bible-based stewardship: looking for stewardship lessons throughout the Bible; (2) The offering: learn from others about the meaning offering in worship; (3) Where your treasure is: reflect on priorities in use of money, consumption and lifestyle; (4) Autobiography about money; explore where your practices and attitudes about money come from; (5) Faith and money: examine the connection between what we say we believe about money and what we do; (6) Asking and giving: explore personal and society attitudes about money and beliefs about community, responsibility and stewardship; (7) Attitudes and relationships between givers and recipients: explore motives and expectations of givers and recipients when they are part of the same community; (8) Budget decisions: making financial decisions within a congregation; (9) The Sunday morning offering: consider the theological meaning and implications of different ways to do the offering in church; and (10) Attitudes about stewardship: develop a stewardship practice in a church community.
[14]Cross, 120-121.


Table of Contents:

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1:  A Revolution in Attitudes Toward Prosperity & Wealth
   The Moral and Economic Philosophy of Adam Smith
   Weber and Tawney on Religion and Economics

Chapter 2 - America's Exceptional Individualism
   The Frontier
   The Religious Aspects of American Individualism
   New Thought Theologies

Chapter 3 - Evolution of the Protestant Ethic in 20th Century America nbsp;     
   The Gospel of Success
   Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal Theologies
   The Prosperity Gospel Today
   Related Ethical Defenses of Wealth Accumulation
   The Reach of Wealth Accumulation Defenses

Chapter 4: Toward Developing A 21st Century Faith & Money Ethic
   Introduction and an Historical Note
   Challenging the Spirituality of Accumulation
   Biblical Perspectives on Reuniting Faith and Money
   Ministries for Transforming Our Relationship with Money

Conclusion

Appendix: Faith and Money Resources

Bibliography

A M.A. thesis submitted in candidacy for the degree of Master of Arts in Religion and Theology
Copyright ښ 2008 by Michael Troutman} , 3156 Elliot Av
Minneapolis, MN 55407 - 612-822-6059
[Michael Troutman} , 3156 Elliot Av
Minneapolis, MN 55407 - 612-822-6059

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