Money and Madness

With inflation at 5.2%, interest rates the lowest they’ve ever been, and unemployment, especially among the young, assuming quite frightening proportions, the ‘other-worldly’ message of the Churches can seem far removed from reality. In vain we argue that it is the true reality: that we are more than the sum of what we possess, infinitely more than what may ‘possess’ us. But our words sound hollow, especially when most of us are involved in fund-raising for this or that. Our language of gift and tithe is alien to many. Are we mad or simply a bit thick, unable to comprehend the new world economic order in which the haves will tend to acquire more and the have-nots to have less and less? Wasn’t it ever so?

Yes and no. The perfect community of Acts 4 has always left me unconvinced. We’re fallen creatures and it shows. The best we can hope to do is to embrace a frugal lifestyle that allows us to be generous to others. We must learn to love not having as once we loved having. One of the great things about being a nun is that we can really live the dispossession of the gospels. Here at Hendred it’s no fiction: the community finances are permanently on a knife-edge, but we still aim to be as hospitable as possible. We don’t experience the poverty of many in the so-called Third World, but by many of the indices used to assess poverty in Britain, we are down there with the best of them, and I myself wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It is when one is utterly dependent on the mercy of God that one knows true freedom. The trouble is, most of us don’t really want to be free. We prefer the chains of habit and possession. Maybe the rather grim economic future we all face will make us think again about our priorities: we may not have much money, but perhaps the very lack of it will help us regain our sanity.

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10 thoughts on “Money and Madness”

    • Thank you, Dave.There are those who will understand what I’m on about (like you) and those who won’t, because it’s not their experience. We all put our trust in God, and then work as hard as we can!

  1. “It is when one is utterly dependent on the mercy of God that one knows true freedom. ”
    How very true. Trouble is, most of us are just cowards when it comes to letting of ‘things’ and just trusting God.

    • Thank you, Terry. Not everyone is called to live the same kind of dependence on God. As I mentioned, the austerity of community life here is in no way equivalent to the absolute deprivation of those who regularly don’t get enough to eat or clean water to drink. I suppose we all have to learn the art of contentment — without becoming complacent.

  2. We are constantly bombarded with advertising that tells us we never have enough, and even if we have we need a little bit more ‘just in case’.

    It seems to me that tne more we have, the less content we become. We become too concerned about protecting the things we have, instead of instead of valuing what we have that money can’t buy.

  3. When I graduated from university in 2007 I really struggled to get a job. In the end I did but I was an office junior on the same wage as a 17/18 yo that they’d taken on at the same time (that was a little despressing but at least I was employed)

    One of the young people in our youth group left school at 16. He’s now been left school a year and it took him nearly 6-8 months to get on a course or get employment. He worked voluntarily in the church office doing filing and preperation for youth groups etc purely so that he had something to do that could count as work experience. It’s been on the news all week about how young people don’t have the numeracy and literacy skils to get jobs – but maybe you’re more hands on and do something practical rather than written.

    The news have also been reporting about how foreign nurses and doctors don’t necessarily have the skills to speak enough english to do their jobs. I nearly retrained as a nurse but it’s so expensive to even get on a course or pay your fees – you do get some kind of bursary towards it but that only covers fees not living costs and with my OH working for the church part time I was the main breadwinner (it’s balanced out a bit now but it’s still not at the point where I could retrain or take time off work to be a Mum or stuff like that).

    However having said that if it was what God called me to do then I wouldn’t need to worry because God would provide – right! I just need to pray and focus on God and not focus on me or worry about paying bills – which always seems to be my excuse!

    • Thank you, Hannah, for your thoughtful comment. You’ve turned my abstract reference to the problem of finding employment as a younger person into a concrete example. It’s actually not too bad to contemplate having less when all the main base points are covered: somewhere to live, furniture, a few geeky goodies for those of us that way inclined, much harder when they are still to find, whatever our age may be. Worry is something we can’t dodge. It’s natural to worry about money when one has very little or not enough to secure the well-being of those we love. Sometimes, I think we just have to be honest and say, ‘Lord, I’d like to be able to say I trust you absolutely and I won’t worry. But we both know I can’t really do that. So please be with me in my worrying.’ The essential thing is to allow the Lord into the whole of our life, not just the bits we think are acceptable or conform to the ideal.

  4. I was terrified the first time we were struck by redundancy. In retrospect there were many blessings. I developed my career as a music teacher, and our children had extra support at home because of one parent being there through their GCSE years. The second time wasn’t so scary at first. But I was furious that the only work my husband could get, after years as an IT director, was packing on minimum wage. Again, in retrospect, there were/are many, many blessings in our situation, and as I let go of my anger, the blessings ate easier to find. Take heart; if God is for us, who can prevail! We just need to see it from God’s perspectives. My husband’s character has shone through, and he is back in the IT dept where his skills are valued and he is teaching the next generation of IT whizz-kids!

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