Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2023

Anonymous Asks (237)

“What did Solomon mean when he wrote that money answers everything?”

It has been said that every virtue carried to extremes becomes a vice, which is probably true. Every good thing indulged in to excess does much the same. This is surely true of money.

The verses prior to Ecclesiastes 10:19 contrast a kingdom run by self-indulgent drunks and gluttons with a kingdom administered by wise, self-controlled princes and officials who know the proper place for leisure and pleasure in their own lives. Obviously, the citizens of the second kingdom will have a better time of it than those of the first.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Strange Applications (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Compound Interest)

The subject of money is a controversial one among believers, not because the Bible is unclear about the dangers of loving mammon or misusing it, but because applying the principles we find in scripture to each personal situation is an individual responsibility worked out, well ... individually.

This being the case, we find a variety of approaches to finances among believers. I’ve tried a bunch of them. Let me tell you a story ... but first, we’d better start with the basics. What do the scriptures say? Let’s get that straight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

Ian Gillan of the seventies metal band Deep Purple reportedly once asked the sound engineer mixing the band’s live album, “Could we have everything louder than everything else?”

I’ve always loved that line. It just sounds like a title for the perfect rock and roll anthem.

But when you think about it for half a second, the request is absurd. If the bass is louder than the high hat, the high hat cannot simultaneously be louder than the bass. If you mix the snare drum louder than a guitar cranked up to eleven, you cannot make that guitar louder in the sound mix without reducing the volume of the snare. It’s absurd.

“Everything” cannot be louder than “everything else”. It doesn’t work.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Time and Chance (21)

It is estimated Solomon wrote 3,000 proverbs, so it’s not surprising a few would show up even in the middle of the book of Ecclesiastes, which is what we might fairly call an observational treatise. He certainly had proverbs to spare.

Two of these next three are the usual two-clause parallelisms, the last antithetical, but even then they do not quite fit the standard proverbial template. The “this also is vanity” clause in the first proverb throws off the expected rhythm. The second is a fairly rare proverbial form in which the final clause extrapolates rather than reinforcing or contrasting.

It’s no surprise to see the Preacher making use of his favorite literary device, but forcing it to operate only in the interest of servicing the overall message of his book shows unusual restraint.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (60)

We are still in the penultimate chapter of Proverbs, and while there are expositors who disagree, I believe we are now reading the words of Agur rather than the words of Solomon.

Unlike the great king of Israel who was granted exceptional wisdom by God, Agur seems to be nothing more impressive than an average devout man observing the world. All the same, by the Spirit of God, he has left us with a few useful reflections. After all, James tells us, you don’t need to be a king to be wise. All it takes is asking in faith.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (55)

Those who rule over us pay more attention to the small nuances of our lives than we might think.

Never has this been truer than in the information age, when all kinds of micro-details — true, false and grossly misleading — may be compiled into an executive summary with the click of an icon. That said, it is good practice to assume those who have the authority to call us to account are smarter than they sometimes appear. My own boss is able to find out a surprising amount about my work habits and relationships for the purpose of annual reviews, most of it via word of mouth from other employees.

Here are several proverbs that probably originated in King Solomon’s meditations as he observed the daily habits of the subjects of the kingdom he administered, and reflected on the performance and character of its officials.

Maybe one or two of them even noticed he was doing it.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (54)

The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

These are well-known biblical truths, and yet notwithstanding the accumulating evidence that possessions and happiness are quite unrelated, the stampede to acquire as much as possible as quickly as possible never abates.

Three of these next ten verses are about money: those who have it, those who don’t, and those who are trying to get it.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Branded

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

They started in 1988 with a 27-year old “senior pastor” named James MacDonald and a couple hundred interested Christians and seekers gathered in a Chicago high school auditorium. Today, they are known as Harvest Bible Chapel, a megachurch with campuses all over the Chicago area and over 100 affiliated fellowships in North America and internationally.

Tom: Today, the mother church is being investigated for alleged financial shenanigans.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (40)

In his short story “The Rich Boy”, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald commented that “The very rich are different from you and me.” I never watched Dynasty or Dallas, and I’ve been in few very rich people’s homes in the course of my life, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t wrong. Their conventions are different, their habits are different, their way of thinking is different.

Even their temptations are different, but we can still learn something useful from considering them.

Our second set of five of Solomon’s “thirty sayings” have a fair bit to do with power and money.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (28)

One of the richer veins of wisdom that may be mined throughout Proverbs has to do with wealth: specifically, how to get it, how to keep it, and the dangers of being seen to have too much of it for other people’s tastes.

As Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes, “Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” Wealth is not the ONLY answer to life’s difficulties, and it’s certainly not the BEST answer, but in nearly every situation (even serious illness), money offers AN answer that those without it cannot allow themselves to even consider.

Without further ado, a sampling from this week’s chapter.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

On the Mount (24)

There are two kinds of hatred.

Well, okay, fine … there are probably more than that. But I’m thinking of two very different kinds. The obsessive sort of hatred is obvious: it turns the stomach sour, occupies the mind constantly and spoils the enjoyment of life. Saul’s hatred must have been something like that. He expended ridiculous amounts of emotional energy and resources in attempting to rid the world of David, very much to his own detriment.

The other kind of hatred is despite.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Sound of Salesmen

The above line comes from a couplet in a Rush song called “Spirit of Radio”, one of the few classic rock tunes I could stomach during my post-punk phase. Neil Peart’s lyric goes like this:

“For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall;
Concert hall echoes with the sound of salesmen.”

It’s actually a rather ironic subversion of Paul Simon’s words in “Sound of Silence”, but that is neither here nor there. Peart once said, “The Spirit of Radio was actually written as a tribute to all that was good about radio, celebrating my appreciation of magical moments I’d had since childhood, of hearing ‘the right song at the right time.’ ” What Peart didn’t say is that it’s a wistful tribute: it ends in his disappointment with the ubiquity of commercialism.

I had a “Spirit of Radio” moment in church the other night.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

The most recent version of this post is available here.