Friday, November 17, 2017

Black Friday and Beyond (and a Return to the Parable of the Talents)

A week from today will be Black Friday--which now starts much earlier.  Some of us will barely finish our Thanksgiving dinners when it will be time to shop.

Some of us will do our best to avoid the holiday crowds and the madness that descends on people when they want a good deal.  It might be wise to do some strategizing now.

I've felt a tinge of that madness.  I've looked at sales circulars and heard/saw the ads and worried about missing out.  I want to save money now so that I'll have money later.

Of course, the best way to save money is not to spend it. 

I also have the parable for Sunday in my head.  What do we do with our resources?  Do we bury them in the yard?  Do we try to make more of what we have?

This post reminds us of a political meaning to the story that has been lost through the ages: 

"This master is not God, he is a wealthy elite—therefore an oppressor–and the first two slaves are his henchmen.

If we take a step back from the hyper-capitalism of our culture, we can see that they are right. I mean really, how does one earn 100% interest? If our church treasurer announced that our investments had doubled this year, we should have a lot of questions. Like which horses did we bet on? Or what kind of drugs are we selling? Or how old are the children working the off-shore factory? Because there is really no secure and ethical way to make that kind of a profit.

Likewise in the first century. The peasants listening to Jesus knew how those first two servants made such impressive returns. They loaned money to subsistence farmers at exorbitant interest rates. This practice was the mechanism that made the rich richer and the poor poorer."

Many of us assume that in the economic spectrum, we're either poor or on the side of the poor.  Let's keep that always in mind as we make our economic decisions.  If I go out to get a good deal on Thanksgiving, am I complicit in an economic system that gives no worker time off?  If I buy cheap junk from China, who is enslaved because of my appetite?

On an on we can go.  I do realize how hard/almost impossible it is to live a life that is truly in sync with our values, particularly when it comes to economic decisions.  Let this be the year that we give these questions some attention.  Let us think about how we are spending/using our talents.

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