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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Walk like an Egyptian … into the Promised Land

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As privileged people, we can’t simply claim the story of the Exodus without reflection, repentance, and concrete response. But if we are willing to hear God’s grief and anger at the suffering of the poor; if we are willing to acknowledge the horrors of our past; if we are willing to engage with the violence of our present, then we can move towards a different future. Continue reading “Walk like an Egyptian … into the Promised Land”

Imperial Economics and the Economy of God

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Who is this God we worship? Is it the God of life, or the God of death? Does God promise abundance, or scarcity? In which economy do we put our faith? These may not seem like obvious questions in response to the conflict between Joseph and his brothers, but they go to the heart of tonight’s story. Let’s recap. Yet again, we have a story of favouritism: a parent prefers a youngest son, and spoils him. For Jacob preferred Joseph, and gave him a special coat. Meanwhile, Joseph dreams that his family bows down to him. This was all so hurtful that his brothers couldn’t speak a civil word to Joseph, and hated him. They first plot to kill him, then decide to sell him into slavery. Continue reading “Imperial Economics and the Economy of God”

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