As a preface, let me just say that, in these short blogs I cannot do justice to Charles Eisenstein. I’m going to keep the posts to around 500 words to make them readble in small chunks. But, read his book! It’s even free on line and you can give a gift afterwards to him or someone else! Also, this is my own take on what he says and he may not agree with all my points!
His first chapter begins with these beautiful and profound words:
“In the beginning was the Gift”
Life itself is given. Ancient religions tell the stories of God making the world and giving the world to us, not to dominate over, but to steward. And if life is given, then our default state is one of gratitude. Gratitude knows that we honour or dishonour a gift by how we use it. Charles argues that having received a gift, it is a natural response or desire of gratitude to want to give in turn. And this is the basis of sacred economics.“Even after all this time The sun never says to the earth “You owe me” Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights the whole sky” – Hafiz
Today’s economic system rewards selfishness and greed and has the appalling undergirding message that “more for you is less for me”. But this does not have to be true. Charles asks us what an economic system might look like that rewards generosity? What if “more for you is more for me”?! In community, gifts circulate and all lives are enriched as a result.
If human beings are made in the image of God, we have either greatly misunderstood divinity or taken a long journey away from it. In fact, we are so far away from it that we live in a world where “ruthless sociopaths rise to wealth and power and disempower the multitude”. We have to be realistic about our current state and that such tendencies can exist in everyone somewhere within us. We have until now been journeying with an economics of separation, of usury and scarcity (maybe controversial for some!). It is time to discover together an economics of reunion, of reconciliation, of gift, of hope and resource.
Economy is so much more than money, and money at its core can be a beautiful thing. It is, in its simplest form, a token of gratitude. It has been allowed to become something far more terrible, but it is not beyond us to reimagine its future.
As earlier posts on this blog to do with the subject of ‘Kenarchy’ show, I believe that gift is the very nature of God. God has always been one who gives of himself, who pours himself out in love for humanity and the world and calls us to become like Him in that. And as we pour ourselves out in love, we recover what it means to be truly human. There are dreadful theologies that paint God as some kind of far off Imperial dictator, who gave us the world to master it and dominate its resources. Domination and stewardship have nothing to do with one another. If we are to find a new future, we must recover our humanity, to become like God, and be those who become gifts to the world around us and use our money in that vain – to bring life and as much beauty as possible!