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Move Over, Christians. Buddhism is the New Standard for Business Spirituality

November 4, 2009

My friend Joan Ball over at Beliefnet recently attended a “Trust Summit” at the Harvard Club in New York City, where authors of the business books Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence (by social media gurus Chris Brogan and Julien Smith) and The Trusted Advisor (by David H. Maister, Charles Green and Robert M. Galford) were the featured speakers. The topic was how to build trust among your business constituents.

Their presentations were followed by a lengthy Q&A session, which Joan describes in her Blog post, “What Churches Can Learn from the Harvard Business School.”

After the line of social media experts had exhausted the authors with 90 minutes of questions attempting to decipher what these gurus might tag as the Next Big Thing, Joan stepped up to the microphone and asked a real good, simple question – one that all of us who are interested in business and spirituality will appreciate:

How does a leader teach matters of virtue in an organization?”

Joan goes on in her Blog post to describe author Charles Green’s answer, as he discusses some interesting points about the need to shift capitalism philosophy away from one of pure competition to one of commerce, built on true relationship ethics. But then he throws out the real zinger:

“…the ultimate paradox is we need more ‘Buddhist Capitalism’. The best way to make money is to stop trying to make money. The best way to sell people is to stop trying to sell them. By serving customers, you will end up making a lot more money that someone who is trying to extract every last penny from their wallets. But not if you set out with it as your objective.”

He’s right, of course, but — Buddhist Capitalism? How did Jesus end up missing the boat here? Why not Jesus Capitalism? Or Christian Capitalism? Last I checked, Jesus was pretty much into authentic servanthood, too.

So there you have it. As Mr. Green and his fellow intelligencia in the Harvard Club are promoting a kinder, gentler business model for the future of commerce, they find a handy role model in Buddhism. For some odd reason, Christianity never made it out of the church pew to hit their radar screen as a compelling model of spirituality in commerce. I wonder why?

This may serve as a wake-up call for some Christian leaders in the business world, as it reveals – well, at the Harvard Club anyway – that the Buddhists have apparently become more spiritually relevant to our culture than Christians.

So, thanks, Joan, for asking the question. But now I have another shocking question for everyone:

What do you think Christian business leaders can learn from the Buddhists?

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 5:56 pm

    Brad, I think Bhuddism has become more relevant to certain elements in our culture — the elements who think they know Christianity but actually don’t (or get all their insights into Christianity from The Huffington Post).

    It’s all the rage right now to do something by not doing it (sell by not selling, promote by not promoting, influence by not influencing, etc). This, too, shall pass.

    To answer your specific question: Not much.

  2. November 4, 2009 8:09 pm

    Bradley,

    I think this is another example of where we have nobody to blame but ourselves. I don’t like this anymore than the next person, but I am not really surprised by it. We can blame Satan, the world, or a myriad of other things; however, in the end we are to blame.

    Why? Well let’s try a little exercise. What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear the word Buddhist? Most likely it is the monks in their orange robes in a temple. I doubt one of you imagined a protester telling people that abortion is wrong, homosexuality is a sin, President Obama is the Anti-Christ, and that they are all going to burn in Hell.

    Funny thing is, if you do the same exercise with the word Jesus or Christ you would not get this image either. But the word Christian will conjure up these images in many people. We Christians, as a group, have become branded as hatemongers and we have very few good deeds to show otherwise.

    Somewhere along the way we quit being the body of Christ. Quit being His arms to hold the hurting person. Quit being His voice with words of encouragement. Quit being His hands outstretched to help our neighbors. We quit being “Christ Ones,” and have become something that must pain His heart.

    No, I am not surprised that a loving, peaceful religion is the new standard. I’m just surprised that most Christian don’t realize it isn’t their religion that fits this description anymore.

    Brad

    • November 6, 2009 3:20 am

      Hi Brad,

      I think you’ve got the main point right there. I would like to confirm this. I myself am not a religious man. I was raised a catholic but have long since left any church. I am not a believer. I truly don’t believe in a God. Sure, I have some theories on what is described in the bible and can subscribe to some of the ideas, but not in the way they are put and interpreted by modern day christians and catholics.

      But you, sir, have the point. One of the main reasons why I initially started doubting the existence of God, and why many people don’t see Christians as being friendly, nice, laid back, loving people. It’s the nearly maniacal actions of “christian” people against abortion, homosexuality, Islam etc that dominate the mainstream media messages.

      Being a non-believer with an honest interest in all things religion, I can most relate to Buddhists because of their inaction. Because of their pacifism. They don’t care about converting the rest of the world into “their” way of living. They just make sure that they live according to their own beliefs, and that they help people who need help.

      I know quite a few people who are christian, and as far as I can tell they are quite friendly people that live in a similar way. However, they apparently don’t advertize it as well as the buddhists do. I am afraid this is a matter of history. Historically speaking, buddhists have always been this way, where christians have crusades, wars, witch hunts, you name it. This isn’t going to change any time soon I’m afraid unless something radically changes, and I personally don’t see that happening any time soon. However, all the small bits and pieces help. So try to, without truly evangelizing it (because, at least to me, that’s highly annoying), show to your surroundings that the way true christians do things, the way they think about the world, is actually quite similar. And perhaps, bit by bit, more people will start understanding that actually, most of the world thinks the same way, through whichever religion (or lack thereof) they see the world.

      • shrinkingthecamel permalink*
        November 6, 2009 6:19 am

        Stefan – You are putting words to what I (and many other Christians) know intuitively is “wrong” with Christianity in our culture today- the maniacal action over the centuries that has been highly publicized and politicized. Some would say that action has been simply a matter of people standing up for what they believe – but the high-pressure tactics for coversion of all peoples to a Christian way of thinking (whatever that happened to mean at the time) has built a negative perception.

        You said it better than any preacher could have: “Try to, without evangelizing, show the way true Christians do things.” Amen, brother! (I hope that didn’t annoy you)

      • November 8, 2009 3:41 pm

        Brad, as you already know, I enjoy your words and your work. Times are when you are just way over my head. And, although having studies comparative religions, I do not consider myself any kind of authority. Certainly not a Bible thumping dogmatist. Stefan says something, though, which I believe is worth addressing. When he says he does not believe (in God), it seems implicit in that statement that only those who “believe in God” have faith. That is not the case. When you pursue any point of view (theistic, atheistic, agnostic, or whatever) to it’s ultimate origin and ask: “How do you KNOW?” Every honest thinker with any depth will be forced to say: “I don’t KNOW. And cannot prove my point of view with test tube or mathematical certainty.” A person who says he does not have faith in God is simultaneously saying I have faith in No God. You don’t have the option of having faith or not having faith. Whatever point of view you adopt you are staking your faith on the truth of that position, ergo: Faith in God? or Faith in No God? Either is based on faith presuppositions. Think about it. Christians aren’t the only ones who have faith. Atheists have faith as well. And Agnostics.

  3. November 4, 2009 8:57 pm

    I wondered if it was the sort of “drifting” “hands-off” sense that they were pointing to. Kind of Zen-ish.

    Which isn’t really that different from a Christian ideal of being content and not worrying about tomorrow.

    Very interesting though.

  4. November 4, 2009 9:08 pm

    Hi Brad,

    Being as someone who was a christian for 17 years I certainly can understand where you are coming from.

    There are so many views concerning Christ today, from the historical one presented, mystical and dogma

    I don’t think it matters who holds the title, the spirit behind it is what matters.

    Religion has become nothing more now days than a slogging match of who will be the heavy belt title holder this year around.

    People are looking for authenticity in their life.

  5. November 5, 2009 8:28 am

    I wonder if we should get back to the Source, Jesus Christ. Let’s learn from Him again and maybe we (or I at least) start doing what He says. We Christians are great hearers (not listeners) and speakers, but do-ers…? I thought the English speaking people actually had a phrase for it: “Does your talk match your walk?”

  6. November 5, 2009 12:17 pm

    Jesus as a business model would make so much more sense for a world gone crazy. but somehow turning the other check, loving your neighbor, dying to yourself daily doesnt resonate in the cutthroat world.

    Budhhism is much more mystical and mysterious — it has an aura of nothingness and everythingness at the same time.

    Budhhism in business is really just man, looking inside at that deep dark hole in soul, and finding a way to fill it.

    Too bad it’s not Jesus

    David
    http://www.redletterbelievers.com

  7. November 5, 2009 6:10 pm

    Hey Bradley,

    What do you mean by ‘Spiritually relevant’ as it pertains to capitalism, buddhism, and Christianity?

  8. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    November 5, 2009 6:28 pm

    These are really great comments! I MUST respond to each one…

    Glynn: “It’s all the rage right now to do something by not doing it (sell by not selling, promote by not promoting, influence by not influencing, etc).”
    Can I steal that? By NOT stealing it? I love the way you say it there, and I am definitely going to re-use those specific words, con su permiso, por favor.

    Brad: You nailed it, man. I think that’s what the general public/media associates with Christianity – all the kooky hate-ish stuff and right-wing politics that have somehow “defined” Christianity over the past 20 years. We got some PR work to do.

    Jon, I believe you have cut to the core of this whole issue. People need authenticity in their spiritual lives – not a religion or political agenda. I agree 100 percent, and hope I provoke a little bit on my blog towards that end. Well said.

    Leon – Another great insight. If we were to reconnect with Jesus, I am certain that our behavior would start to reflect that idea of “doing good and serving others” rather than “providing goods and services.”

    LL and David – Yes, it must be the mystical, zen-quality of Buddhist that actually is attractive to the world. Jesus offered some similar philosophies, but what people remember is the militants and TV Evangelists, I guess. So Buddhism is there to fill in the cultural gap.

    Thanks, everyone for such great thoughts. Now go meditate!

  9. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    November 5, 2009 6:30 pm

    And Matthew – Just saw your comment come through, buddy…

    I mean “spiritually relevant” in that it is in the mainstream lingo for how business people can view a spiritual framework for capitalism or commerce. That is the context that CHarles Green was using “Buddhist Capitalism”

  10. November 6, 2009 1:30 am

    Jesus does not miss boats.

  11. November 6, 2009 10:57 am

    Imagine for a moment that Christians were doing everything right—speaking truth in humility, showing love, etc. Would Christ suddenly become politically correct?

    Judaism is less prominent and less vocal than Christianity. Are Jews any more popular than Christians in our culture? Is the Old Testament better received by society than the New Testament? (LOL)

    The fact that most of the world will continue to oppose any biblical message is no reason for us to not make truth as attractive and unoffensive as possible. But let’s also be pragmatic. Those who reject Jesus will always find a reason to reject His messengers.

    For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
    (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

  12. November 6, 2009 4:12 pm

    Hi Bradley – To answer your particular question, I think there is a lot that Christian Business leaders can learn from Buddhists – the problem is most of us are afraid to read the teachings of Buddha.

    I highly recommend a book called Old Cloud, White Path by Thich Nhat Hanh – It is an amazing book. When you read it, you will find out how much in common we actually have. When I was reading it, my Christian friends told me that I should not read that book because I am a Christian – I found that reading it made me a better Christian.

    Specifically I would say, that the principle of Mindfulness is the most amazing thing Christian Business leaders could learn. When we remember to pause and pray, and meditate and reflect upon sacred scriptural writings we become more God-like and better leaders in our business, community, and home. We just move too fast – without a sense of purpose. Mindfulness helps us overcome that.

    Too many Christians are not willing to pay the true price of discipleship. They draw near to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him, and that is precisely why we are losing so many good people like Jon.

  13. November 6, 2009 4:29 pm

    i have been thinking more on image.

    what we see, what others see.

    man was created in the image of God.
    yet, we do not project that image.
    i think that the closest that we can come to projecting that image is to live by the Spirit as much as we can. i said before that image has a lot to do with how we make a person feel. if a person looks at a believer, or listens to a believer and recgonizes something that they need, something that is missing in them, if they feel Love, if they see some of that image of God and that they are loved, and cared about, i would think that is a pretty good image.

    if this image is transfered into a person hearing God’s love for them, then we have done well. but, even if this takes place, the message is not always received fully into the other person’s heart. in other words, God’s love is rejected and as a result we can suffer the rejection.

    if we are not believers who are followers of the Holy Spirit in a mature understanding of that relationship, the lost have all the more reason to doubt, and the saved do not support eachother in the truth.

    we take a long time to grow-up in our faith.

    people easily use the name of God and the Christ in a way that is to their advantage of filling their own desires or greed, from very small things to very large.

    i think that the image or view of Christians will not be favorable to the world, from now until the return of Jesus Christ.

    even many of those that call themselves Christians, will fall away.

    this has been made clear to us.

    we, as believers in Jesus, can learn a lot from unbelievers and believers alike, however, we can only do this by walking in the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus could walk on water, He is not going to be missing any boat. but, we could be missing His boat.

  14. November 7, 2009 6:52 pm

    Bradley,

    Thanks for kicking this discussion off. As the one who made the initial remark, I guess I have some right (maybe obligation?) to comment on it.

    Comment #1. It was a bit of a throw-away line, to be honest–in the sense in which I uttered it, you’re all over-thinking it.

    Comment #2. Ignore comment #1, Bradley’s question turns out to be very interesting, and I’ve really enjoyed the dialogue. So in the spirit of comment #2, let me offer a few thoughts.

    On reflection, I think I chose Buddhism rather than Christianity for a reason, even if only subconsciously. That reason is that Buddhism tends to emphasize detachment, while I associate Christianity more with attachment. That’s a gross over-generalization, but let me try to back it up a bit.

    The sense in which I meant “give it up to get it” is profoundly what’s missing in business today. We are taught to do things IN ORDER TO get other things. Business has become all about treating others as ends IN ORDER TO achieve our means–sustainable competitive advantage, shareholder value, social justice, etc.

    In that sense, we really need to remember that business is just one form of social relationship, and that treating others as an end to our means is beyond immoral–it’s amoral. In that sense, I do hope Glynn is sadly mistaken in his claim that this is a fad and will surely pass.

    Buddhism is very much about detaching ourselves from objectives, ends, and so forth.

    Certain aspects of Christianity are precisely the same way. But there are plenty of counter-examples, at both extremes.

    According to the Bible, Jesus confounded the Pharisees by answering a trick question with “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” As I understand it, that draws a sharp line between commerce and religion. I hear that (others may differ) as saying business simply doesn’t have much to do with, shouldn’t be confused with, and in fact should be kept separate from religion.

    Then there’s the so-called Protestant Ethic, proposed by sociologist Max Weber in the 19th Century, which pointed out very clearly the form of Christianity which suggested we do good works IN ORDER TO achieve life ever after. Whatever you may think of that, positive or negative, it is not what I meant or mean by detachment.

    Or, another Jesus quote: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” That sounds pretty unequivocal to me: the possession of wealth is positively antithetical to religious life.

    Honestly, to read that simply on the face of it as it is written is to say that Jesus was a lot more communist than capitalist–but in any case, that statement surely doesn’t sound like “Christian capitalism.” It’s anti-capitalism, straight up.

    The first sentence in Wikipedia’s definition of Buddhism reads:
    “Buddhism, as traditionally conceived, is a path of liberation attained through insight into the ultimate nature of reality.”

    The first sentence in Wikipedia’s definition of Christianity reads:
    “Christianity (from the Greek word Xριστός, Khristos, “Christ”, literally “anointed one”) is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament.”

    You can of course easily take issues with facile definitions from sources like Wikipedia, but I think one’s about liberation and one’s about monotheism. What I originally intended, and still do–with respect to business–has more to do with liberation–from our attachments to achieving things.

    But I really like Andrew Thorn’s comment, and I’m curious to get a copy of Old Cloud, White Path. I think we all could benefit from focusing more on the similarities between the two religions than on the differences.

    And I bet we’d all agree on at least that point.

  15. November 8, 2009 6:07 pm

    The image of Jesus more communist than capitalist is absurd. He spoke so often of money and of using it profitably that He might be considered history’s foremost capitalist. A rich man has difficulty entering the kingdom because Jesus’ model is that riches are always reinvested, not accumulated as wealth. He spoke many parables which commended profitable servants.

    Buddhism is very much about detaching ourselves from objectives, ends, and so forth. An accurate depiction of communism! It is not Jesus, but legalistic religion which mimics communism by strong-arming men into detachment from wealth and pleasure, compelling them to offer their good works for the purported common good—thereby stifling initiative and punishing true charity.

    Detachment is not liberty, which can only be owned via the capitalistic model of well-defined objectives, ends, and “so forth.” Jesus has set us to the task of building a rich and profitable kingdom. He fronts the start-up capital of spiritual gifts, material and human resources, and rewards most richly those who bring Him the greatest return.

    Would you have a business leader par excellence? Jesus came to offer the greatest attainment any man might have: Eternal Life. He Himself has finished the work to make it available, offers a free sample for yourself, tells you it will cost you everything you are to gain a share in His objective of Eternal Life proliferation, and if you prove yourself faithful you will not be handed a generous bonus but receive an inheritance in the company and adoption into His family.

    Show me such a model in any other religion.

  16. November 11, 2009 2:28 pm

    Charles – What better way to incite a good Blog post, than taking a “throw-away statement” and overthinking it? I specialize in that.

    I would have to agree with Anne as she summed up nicely the case for Jesus supporting a capitalist rather than anti-capitalist environment… (Thank you, Anne!) The attraction of using Buddhism as an analogy for doing business is that it neatly demonstrates the point of doing things for the essence of what it is, rather than for the end, and people who may be only vaguely familiar with Buddhism can “get it”. I think using “Christianity” and “Business” in the same sentence has too much baggage going along with it that will take a while to unpack – including Charles’ Protestant Work Ethic example, as well as the mis-interpretations of scriptures that were also used by Charles that make Jesus appear to condemn or segregate business life from spiritual life.

    This is why we Blog. We’re still working on it.

  17. November 11, 2009 3:17 pm

    My husband and I make significant investments of time and money into a business venture the Lord set before me and for which He gifted me. I might have been published and profitable long ago if I chose to make Christianity less prominent. I covet all the hours I’d have if I did business more neatly by leaving Scripture out of it.

    This pragmatist chokes on the idea that the attraction of Buddhism makes it a more effective business model than Christianity. Capitalistic businesses and their leaders have responsibilities to wisely manage the resources entrusted to them—and to keep in mind where the capital originates.

    Brad, I hope you’ll allow me being so cheeky, and presenting yet one more model from Scripture:

    But now the Lord declares: “… for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt.” (1 Samuel 2:30)

  18. November 11, 2009 7:09 pm

    Brad,

    What a great dialogue. As per your last post, you put it well, there is more to unpack in the baggage about Christianity and capitalism, it doesn’t make for an easy and obvious linkage.

    But help me understand something. At the risk of stirring up a bit more, I was a little surprised to see you suggest mis-interpretations of the scriptural material I mentioned–presumably the camel and the eye of the needle story, which is mentioned in three of the gospels. I was not aware that my literal reading was considered a mis-interpretation.

    From debunker.com:

    The Jerome Biblical Commentary is a standard reference work found in many libraries, written by Catholic scholars. Its commentary on Matthew 19:24 states bluntly, “the figure of the camel and the eye of the needle means exactly what is said; it does not refer to a cable or a small gate of Jerusalem.” The Abingdon Interpreter’s Bible is a major reference work compiled by Protestant scholars, and its analysis of this passage is in full agreement. Unfortunately for the fundamentalists, the concensus of New Testament scholars is that Matthew’s passage barring rich people from heaven means exactly what it says.”

    Certainly I had always understood this particular passage to mean just what it said, as do apparently the scholarly sources mentioned above (about which I know zilch, btw, I’m just serving up what I found in research). It’s news to me that that interpretation is a mis-interpretation, and I’d be curious to hear just how. The Luke version of the story adds context: the quote happens in the midst of Jesus’ answer to a rich man’s question, and the rich man is disappointed to hear Jesus’ answer.

    In any case, it certainly doesn’t seem “absurd” to consider the gospels of Mark and Matthew and Luke might all say exactly the same thing and mean exactly what they say.

    I was curious to see Anne’s Samuel wrathful-God quote, which is after all from the Old Testament, not the new, and hence is as Jewish as it is Christian, since it pre-dates Jesus.

    I looked it up, and here’s that same passage from the King James Version:

    “Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

    Now, I’m no Biblical scholar, and maybe the King James version is steeped in delicate irony, but ‘lightly esteemed’ sounds to my ear a lot less negative than ‘treated with contempt.’

    Just to be clear, I don’t say and didn’t say Jesus was a communist. What I said was, “to read that [camel story] simply on the face of it as it is written is to say that Jesus was a lot more communist than capitalist.” Several readers have said they in fact do not in fact read it the way that on the face of it it’s written; and that’s their choice, and it’s probably a far better informed and educated choice than mine is.

    I’m just pointing out what the words actually said. And as Brad points out–that’s why we blog. It’s about clarifying.

    • November 12, 2009 2:35 pm

      Thank you for the link to Kirby Anderson’s piece. I agree that it presented a thoughtful and balanced approach to wealth. I was a bit surprised that he said so little about stewardship. The “earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can” statement is good enough, but I’d prefer to see “invest” rather than “save.” The former puts resources to work, yields a larger return, and multiplies the number of people who are blessed in the process. The latter seems to emphasize accumulation, which is part of the problem. It is also the least option of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:27.

      Re: 1 Samuel 2:30, the Hebrew verb often translated “lightly esteemed”—but also “despised,” “cursed,” “despicable,” “disdained”—is qâlal. My Bible dictionary of choice is The Complete Word Study Dictionary (Zodhiates, © 1992 AMG International, Inc.), and lists the verb’s various nuances as “to be slight, to be trivial, to be swift.” In this specific passage, Zodhiates applies it thus: “In many instances, qâlal is used to describe speaking lightly of another or cursing another: a person cursing another person; people cursing God; or God cursing people.” The verse in my above comment is from the NRSV, which seemed an accurate and happy medium among numerous translations I browsed. The whole point of the verb in context is that the Lord does have a standard of blessing in accordance with the honor He is shown. The Bible thoroughly attests that those who do not honor Him may seem to prosper, but it will not endure.

      A parallel concept from the New Testament might be Galatians 6:7 (NKJV): “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

    • November 12, 2009 6:18 pm

      Charles-
      Here is what I meant by the “misinterpretation” quote I was referring to (which btw goes against the whole point of this blog title, “Shrinking the Camel – DUH!):
      – After Jesus tells those disciples basically that rich people won’t get into heaven with that Camel in the eye of the needle story (shock treatment to get their attention), the disciples get all frustrated, and ask “Well then WHO the aych can get into heaven, then?” And Jesus replies, “With God, anything is possible.” Everyone forgets that part.

      It is through this and many other examples and parables that Jesus used where he is consistently acknowledging the practice of business/stewardship/ investment/rewards etc. while forcing people to recognize that the money and wealth in and of itself can not be the prize nor the focus.

      I do not read the bible and see Jesus as being anti-business. I hear him saying that it is all part of the kingdom of God, but don’t make it your God. Instead, do justice, do good to your neighbor, feed the poor, etc. and in all things, love the Lord thy God. It’s simple, really.

      I wrote an entire essay on this subject which became the origins for this Blog. You can read it here if you want.

      https://shrinkthecamel.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/shrinking-the-camel.doc

  19. November 11, 2009 7:16 pm

    Here’s a piece by Kerby Anderson that seems to do a nice job of “unpacking” the Christianity and wealth story.
    http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/poverty.html

    It strikes me as thoughtful, balanced, well-researched, and nuanced. Good reading for whatever one’s viewpoint might be.

    Or so it seems to me.

  20. November 12, 2009 1:17 am

    how about… work in the faith place?

    btw…cool cloud photo.

    • November 12, 2009 6:01 pm

      How about “Gazango”? That sounds kind of cool, right? And also has a fun-spiritual thing going for it.

  21. November 12, 2009 5:09 pm

    Anne,

    Lovely job unpacking the esteem/curse etc. language; I found that really instructive, thank you. And you obviously know your way around the literature! I agree, the Galatians quote is much the same and New Testament to boot.

    I don’t know whether stewardship should get more recognition in the tradition, but I for one find it a great idea, for pretty much the reasons that you eloquently stated.

    Thank you for your commentary.
    Charlie

    • November 13, 2009 7:54 pm

      Thanks for your kinds words, Charlie. The Bible is sort of an obsession of mine, for 24 years running. ; )

  22. November 12, 2009 6:30 pm

    Bradley,

    To your most recent comment (the comments aren’t sorting by date for me, which is confusing), I have to slap myself upside the head. Doh! I didn’t understand the shrinking the camel reference! Serves me right for diving in with no context. So sorry. And you’re right of course about the rest of the quote.

    Now I get why you call it a mis-interpretation. I have no idea if you’re right about that, but now at least I understand you, and that I hadn’t understood your intent before. Thank you for indulging me, and sorry for my obtuseness.

    And personally speaking I think your point is very well taken (that means I agree with you); wealth per se ought not a defining issue for salvation, whatever one means by that; it’s how you think about it and use it that makes the difference.

    • November 12, 2009 6:53 pm

      I am ever-so-subtle.

      Glad we are on the same page.

      Now, go and read some of the other posts on my Blog, for crying out loud!

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