Meekonomics – How to Inherit The Earth and Live Life to The Fullest Under God’s Economy


Introduction
I realize that it is an act of sheer hubris to attempt to write a book called Meekonomics.  The meek don’t write books do they?  Especially Mennonite kids from Southern Ontario with no formal education in either economics or theology.

This book is the result of 6 years of prayer, research and reflection on two things that have driven me for almost as long as I can remember; God and Money.

Although I have always held a strong faith my relationship with money has been an extreme roller-coaster from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.  I’m an entrepreneur.  I started my first business at the age of the age of 10; I had an opportunity to become a millionaire before my 26th birthday only to fall victim to an unscrupulous fraudster and ended up bankrupt at 33.

My drive to understand money and reconcile economics with my faith started to take root in the fall of 2007 not long after I first filed for bankruptcy.  What I soon realized is that reconciliation of the God and Money issue is not just a personal question, although personal finance is a big part of it, it’s really required on both a micro and macro-economic scale if our society is to survive.

Call it what you will; estate or retirement planning, investments, pension plans etc.  It all comes down to the storing up of treasures on earth just as Jesus warned us not to do.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:19-24]

Meekonomics is a new way of looking at our relationship with God and Money.  As Jesus said, the meek shall inherit the earth but in God’s economy that means something completely different than what many people might think.  And if we don’t fundamentally change the way we steward the earth there won’t be anything left to inherit anyway.

I have a confession to make.

The more research I put in to this idea the more I realized that my relationship with money was the result of a constant striving to serve two masters and has led to a myriad of sin.  I’m not ashamed to admit it or use such strong words.  Sin is sin.  In my drive for money I have lied, cheated, committed fraud and outright theft.  Of course I always managed to convince myself that I was just borrowing, but borrowing without permission is theft, even if you pay it back before anyone notices.  So the hours I have spent in research and writing, and the hours I continue to spend in this pursuit are in some way my penance for the people I’ve hurt and the damage I have done in my relentless pursuit of money.

It was when I began to realize just how sinful my love of money had made me that I found in Proverbs the Pray of Agur;

O God, I beg of you two favours before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. [Proverbs 30:7-9]

This has become my mantra.  It’s taped to the inside of my wallet so I can see it every time I reached for one of my many credit cards.  I’ve had to replace that piece of paper a few times, it’s gotten ripped and beaten up pretty badly but as I’ve said that prayer almost every day for the last 6 years, it’s changed me.  I no longer view money as a right, I don’t even view it as a privilege, or a tool; I view it as a responsibility. Repeating the prayer of Agur, requesting neither poverty nor riches, is really a prayer that God in his infinite grace and wisdom will not give me more than I can handle.  I’ve been on the verge of riches and I squandered it, I’ve been in the depths of poverty and I stole in order to achieve those things I thought were my right, I clearly cannot be trusted, not without the grace of God at least.

So as I journey through my relationship with God and Money I am trying to look at the world of economics through the rubric of three broad perspectives.

First; I want to explore a theological study of the issue from an Anabaptist perspective and look at how it has related to traditional economic theories throughout history.  In the 16th century a group of Christian leaders rebelled against their own religion calling for a total separation of church and state, a rejection of violence in all its forms and a way of life that respected the economic realities of stewardship and community.  When most people think of Anabaptists today they think of the Amish and Quakers clinging to a way of life that is separate from western society and rejects modern conveniences but Anabaptists are so much more than that.  I will explore how the Anabaptist faith led to the invention of community based banking such as Credit Unions and Mutual Insurance as a way of sharing risk and making the protection of personal property the responsibility of the entire community.

Second; I want to undertake an in-depth study of the so-called market economy and capitalism, how it started, what it has become and how it is radically different from what the first capitalists ever intended.  It has been said that history is written by the victors.  That is just as true for the history of conflict and war as it is for the history of development and wealth.  But what if we told history from the perspective of the vanquished?  What if we looked at wealth and development from the perspective of the poor?  It’s no secret that free market capitalism has emerged as the dominant form of economics the world over, but what does that really mean and what does it say about our society as a whole?  What has the free market done to isolated communities?  What has it done to one industry towns?  And was does it do to individuals?

Third; I want to look at economics from an ecological perspective.  As I mentioned earlier there isn’t much point in any of this if there isn’t much of an earth left to inherit.  The Iroquois of North America used to make decisions for their communities based on the impact it would have to the seventh generation.  Today, driven by forces of the market and the need for immediate profit, decisions are made with no regard at all for future generations, indeed very little consideration is given beyond the next quarterly earnings report.  This has put an unbelievable strain on the balance of God’s very creation and it begins with a misinterpretation of man’s role as spelled out in Genesis.

Lastly; I want to tie it all together in a clear and coherent plan for life in accordance with the teaching of Jesus and God’s will for the stewardship of our assets, our planet and the protection of the weakest members of our communities.  This must be looked at from both a financial and spiritual perspective so that we may all live a life of abundance secure in the grace of God and loving support of our communities.

As fate would have it, as I was formulating this introduction I glanced at my smart phone and saw that Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California had posted his economic theory through on twitter.

“Capitalism: What’s mine is mine & I Keep it.  Socialism: What’s yours is mine & I can take it.  Bible: It’s all God’s and I share it.” (@RickWarren)

Unbeknownst to him in less than 140 characters Mr. Warren created the perfect definition of Meekonomics.  With that in mind I’m ready to dive in to what I hope and pray will be as eye-opening and life changing for you, my readers and it was and continues to be for me in researching and writing it.

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4 thoughts on “Meekonomics – How to Inherit The Earth and Live Life to The Fullest Under God’s Economy

  1. Kurious2no says:

    Lauren I will certainly be interested in where you take this project. Don’t forget to include what is now, and has been since the advent of agriculture, the Golden Rule. No not the one your Jesus talked about, the other one – “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Sadly, like it or not, this is the way things have worked at least since recorded history.

    As for Rick Warren he would have been more correct if he had said -“Capitalism: I’ve got mine, to hell with you. Socialism: It not yours or mine but ours. Jesus: Give it all away, it’s bad for you.”

    I will be very interested in what you have to say. I have a bit of trouble understanding how Christians square religion and money, so will be interested in the logic of your arguments. And as I read your introduction I must admit to wondering about your moral struggles and how you might have met them without your Christian beliefs. Are they the only thing that pushes you to behave in a moral fashion?

    Anyway….I am looking forward to your future writings!

  2. Yes, “He who has the gold makes the rules” but as I’m discovering lately gold has nothing to do with it anymore. Money has become an asset in and of itself and has very little to do with the true value of goods. I’ll be digging into that in Chapter One; A Brief History of Money.

    Rick Warren’s quote might not be perfect but the sentiment is dead on. Jesus didn’t say money is bad for you, he said the LOVE of money is bad, there is a huge difference.

    I have no idea how I would have met my moral issues without a Christian faith. My faith is so central to me being that asking if it is the only thing that pushes me to morality is like asking a fish how he would oxyginate his blood without water passing over his gills.

    I dare say the even without faith of your own, Christianity has informed your morality too, you do live the post modern, post colonial, post Catholic world after all. The fact that you mistakenly atribute the Golden Rule to Jesus, proves that. A better question is how would your morallity have been formed if it weren’t for the pervasive influence that Christianity has had on our society for the past 1700 years?

  3. Lauren, you dive quickly in with a deep sense of sincerity and make this subject one of great interest. Recently, I have decided to find one of the richest men in Ontario and ask what they do that makes them so rich. I will take their advice and turn it into following Jesus – so if they check the stock market 8 times a day – I will check the Scriptures, if they call for advice 4 times a day – I will commit to 4 times of meditation time, if they research 3 times a day – I will read on a topic – like money – 3 times a day. I think you get my point.

    A found such a gentleman, getting hooked up through a friiend – if you are interested I can fill you in.

    Blessings,

  4. Don’t forget that the core of Jesus’ message was about relationships. I fear that your approach may lead to a cloistered lifestyle that will do little to advance the Kingdom. Get out there and meet people, share the good news, that is the true value of a Christ-following lifestyle.

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