Thursday, March 29

I want my money?

I’ve been reading Approaching Zion, by Hugh Nibley, a Mormon scholar. It condemns wealth-seeking, unbridled capitalism, and destruction of the environment. And it has been invading my thoughts. I'm questioning my career goals in life. Do I want to be rich? In Mormon doctrine, the only good reason for seeking riches is to help others. From The Book of Mormon: “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

It’s not just Mormon doctrine. Here are a few other teachings:
The King James Bible: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” “…a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Chögyam Trungpa, Tibetan Buddhist teacher:
“Our highly organized and technological society reflects our preoccupation with manipulating physical surroundings so as to shield ourselves from the irritations of the raw, rugged, unpredictable aspects of life. Push-button elevators, pre-packaged meat, air conditioning, flush toilets …weather satellites, bulldozers, fluorescent lighting, nine-to-five jobs, television - all are attempts to create a manageable, safe, predictable, pleasurable world… It is ego's ambition to secure and entertain itself, trying to avoid all irritation. So we cling to our pleasures and possessions…”

So, where do we draw the line? Should I buy a Corvette for $60,000 when I could buy a less expensive one for a third of that price or less, and give the rest of the money away? When we take more than we actually need, aren’t we really being selfish? How can any wealthy person drop 30 grand on a vacation to Bora Bora when there are still people starving in the world? And I’m not just condemning the rich here. I’m guilty too. I love DVDs, vacations, “air conditioning,” etc. The irony of it is we try to amass all of these “riches” that comfort or amuse us, yet the end result is we’ve wasted our time, increased the strength of our addictions to ‘things’, and used up resources that ostensibly could have been used for a better purpose. So when can one relax and enjoy a movie?


  1. I don't think that having a job that pays well is a bad thing. It's what we do with the resources that we have.

    Where much is given, much is required. If we are fortunate enough to have money to support our families and money for luxuries on top of that, I think we have even greater a responsibility to help others.

    As for when we can sit down guilt-free to watch a movie? Good question. I think we have to find balance. If all we ever do is watch movies, then there is a problem, but if we are living a life of charity then I think it's a good thing to sit down and recharge by watching a good movie with people we care about.

    Last month, when I went visiting teaching, the message was about being more charitable, and one of the quotes talked about charity as something we become rather than specific things we do. I thought it was an interesting thing to think about. Being charitable doesn't mean we do something and then check it off of our to do list. It's the way we live our lives, whether it is doing things specifically to help others, or how we treat those around us in every day interactions.

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way!

  2. I guess a question I have is, are luxeries good? What are we doing with luxeries when some go without their basic needs being met? My answer right now is that they are not good. We can't "be" charitable and still hold on to our luxeries. Not that this is easy though, and it's probably idealistic. I know I fall way short of giving up everything I don't 'need'. I just hope I can improve in this area.

  3. It's definitely something that you have to find your own balance in.

    For me, I would never drive a bmw. I would however drive a well-equipped passat (assuming I could afford to).

    I don't think it is required of us to live in poverty and give away all that we have, but I do think that helping others should require sacrifice, just like following the teachings of Christ requires sacrifice.

  4. Discipleship as I understand it requires different tests for each of us. For some it may be as the young rich man who came to Jesus inquiring what he should do to have eternal life. The test for THAT young man was to give away all he had, because he simply loved his money too much.

    Our paths are generic and similar but your path is different than mine and I cannot help you much with yours. You may take solace from words your family may speak to you, but ultimately it is your path and it is your set of exams. You have a partner and the two of you reason together. Listen to her. She has a special gift.

    Consider the institutional church. Why do we have different rules for Canada and the USA than the rest of the world? Why did the branch president or was it his counselor in Kobe with his family have to pass out handbills at some tourist place to make ends meet during a period of unemployment? In America the bishop gets out the check book and the mortgage is paid and the groceries are free. Why do congregations meet in little buildings that are very modest and their budget is less than the YM or YW in any ward in Zion? Our BS troop will spend $150.00 per boy to go to a merit badge factory for summer camp if our SM has his way. Both the YM president and I are going to veto that. Some families in the Rama do not have $150.00 to supply their entire family with Christmas.

    Por siempre mi hijo hay mas preguntas que respuestas.

    Thanks for asking the questions. That is the beginning of discoverffy and a very healthy sign.

  5. Q the spell checker corrected me. It's "luxuries," not 'luxeries."


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