Crushed by capitalism? Consider the ravens

Weighed down by capitalism’s incessant demands? Consider the ravens and discover a renewed way of life. (Listen.)

Once upon a time, there was a village. The people in the village had a life that was simple, and good. They hunted; they tended their fish traps; they grew yams. They wove baskets, and stitched and decorated fur cloaks. They walked to the coast and feasted on shellfish; they walked to the grassy plains, lit controlled fires, and waited for the big game to come hopping in. Most people worked about four hours a day; beyond that, they hung out. They kicked a footy around; they considered the ravens and other creatures; they told stories; they pondered the landscape; they traded songs with visitors from other villages and other towns. Continue reading “Crushed by capitalism? Consider the ravens”

The loneliness of the Australian colonial capitalist

The deep loneliness of colonial capitalism: and some pointers to an alternative economy. (Listen.)

The fear of saying the wrong thing means too often we say nothing at all. The following is a stumbling attempt to articulate some consequences of the colonial capitalist economy, to note resonances between some Indigenous economies and God’s kingdom culture, and to tentatively imagine a renewed economics which fosters connection and community. Time, space, audience and ignorance mean I necessarily make generalisations and minimise the extraordinary diversity of expressions of Indigenous economic systems. Continue reading “The loneliness of the Australian colonial capitalist”

The scent of gratitude

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What would you spend a year’s wages on? A house deposit? A fancy car? A university education? How about some fabulously expensive perfume for a man about to die? In tonight’s reading, that’s exactly what Mary does. Jesus is visiting Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus, whom he had recently raised from the dead. While the men are reclining at the table, Mary brings in an eye-wateringly expensive jar of perfume and uses it to anoint Jesus. And then, in the gospel according to John, she wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. Continue reading “The scent of gratitude”

Satisfying the Hunger Within

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What are you hungry for? What are you craving? Food? Friendship? The dulling of the pain? An end to loneliness? The lighting up of the darkness? The warm embrace of love? To be hungry is to be human. To feed ourselves is to be human. And we live in a ravenous age. We are all barraged daily with advertising for things which promise to sate our hunger, to quench our thirst, to satisfy our desires, to heal the pain, to end the craving, to fill the emptiness within. Continue reading “Satisfying the Hunger Within”

Overweight, overwrought, and overwhelmed by stuff.

Last year, I wrote about bi-cultural Christmas: that idea that there are two Christmas cultures. The first, seen all around us already, is a cultural event; the second is Christian, and happens only after the waiting time of Advent. Many Christian commentators suggest that, if we are not to be joyless Scrooges, we need to find ways to participate in both. But I struggle with this. Continue reading “Overweight, overwrought, and overwhelmed by stuff.”

Group Reflection: Common Purse

On Sunday we reflected as a group on Acts 4:32-35. The conversation was wide-ranging and included stories of people’s attempts to live with a common purse and/or live in community. Of particular note:

*Some people talked about their experience of moving to shared finances in married life. One couple was delighted: joining forces meant they could finally use ATMs, because together they would regularly have over $20 in their account (the minimum needed to use an ATM). Another couple had struggled with how money and power played out, and whether or not the greater earner should have more say over how money was spent. This was a particular struggle for the lesser earner, who perhaps felt they should not insist on how money was spent. Continue reading “Group Reflection: Common Purse”

Prepare the Way: But How?

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Once upon a time, long, long ago, I lived in Washington, DC. We went to a church which was once Harry Truman’s, then Jimmy Carter’s; and the Clintons came a couple times. Its members included diplomats, military men, and CIA staff; investors, bankers, and millionaires; presidential advisors, scientists, and journalists; and a governor of the Federal Reserve. So one of the hardest things about moving to Warrnambool is the teeny-tiny feeling that I have dropped off the face of the earth. It’s not a hamlet; but compared to living in our capital city, let alone the city I once lived in, Warrnambool feels remote indeed. It’s not that the powerful had any time for me; it’s just that I’m used to thinking that power is all around me. And at some deep level, I assume—wrongly—that big and powerful human places is where the real stuff happens: the God-stuff.  Continue reading “Prepare the Way: But How?”

The Billionaire, the Stockbroker, and the Storyteller

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Parables are like puzzle boxes. There are no easy answers, no straight readings. You can take a parable in several directions: how you interpret it depends on your faith community, your social location, your Biblical knowledge, your image of God, a good dose of the Holy Spirit, and—let’s be honest!—your mood. Now, most people have heard spiritual interpretations of the parable of the talents. In such a reading, those Christians who don’t use their money, time, gifts, and abilities to advance the kingdom of heaven will face God’s anger and judgement. But it’s interesting that nothing in the story says that the angry boss is God. So let’s swap the lens from spiritual to economic, and assume that Jesus meant the talents literally. A talent was a colossal unit of money, over a million dollars today: how might knowing this affect the reading? Listen as I riff on the story, and re-tell it in a modern context. Perhaps it will lead to a different place. And if it does, then, like all good parables, where you go from that place is up to you. So make yourself comfortable: it’s time for a story.  Continue reading “The Billionaire, the Stockbroker, and the Storyteller”

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