Acorns: The only way I’ve been able to save money


First off, no, this isn’t some “Sponsored Post”. But yes, I am passing off a link that could get me and you $5 for free. (So is this a sponsored blog post then? I don’t know.)

Anyway, this blog is mainly about big things, deep things, human things. Religion, Culture, Politics, Cities, Justice, Beauty, and others. But it’s also about me–a thing neither big nor deep, but still quite human.

And there are few things that expose our humanity more than money. How we relate to the resources under our care shows so much about who we are and the ways we’re wired. For me personally, I’ve had difficulty saving money. Not because I don’t make enough or because I spend too much–I’m just pretty undisciplined and disorganized.

If statistics are any indication (although research differs), for one reason or another, you might have a similar difficulty with saving money.
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A Brief Theology of Stewardship

Recently, for a class of mine, I had to think through what I thought about the idea of “Stewardship”, or how we relate to and care for the material things around us. The context for this was trying to think well and deeply about how we would attain and treat money being raised to plant new churches. Here were some of my thoughts.

Economics of Abundance

“It is here that the revolutions of empty and inordinate desires takes place: of the lust for a superabundance which is not the natural and beautiful abundance of life but the overflow of nothingness….” (Karl Barth)

“We live lives at the intersection of two stories about the world: the Eucharist and the market. Both tell stories of hunger and consumption, of exchanges and gifts; the stories overlap and compete.” (William Cavanaugh)

When it comes to stewardship, I have two guiding principles. The first is that the Kingdom of God is an economy of abundance that protests the dominant economic narrative of our culture that resources of all kinds exist in a state of scarcity. An economy of scarcity means we must compete in a zero-sum game to maximize our gains and defend against our losses.

To lead on the basis of scarcity is to seek excellence not to honor God, but to “compete” in the ecclesial marketplace for the most market share. It is to turn fundraising into conquests and battles, rather than a loving invitation into vision and mission (as Henri Nouwen beautifully reminds us). In my personal life, scarcity breeds anxiety, worry, and fear; letting the next pay-grade guide my job decisions more than vocational call. It puts a greater emphasis on saving now rather than spending wisely.

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The Echoes of History & Abraham| Genesis 24.22-23

When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
Genesis 24.22-23

On a random historical note, though it is clear that these stories come from older narratives and traditions written down much later, it is interesting that these stories still have features that would have been accurate for the time at which the story took place, millenia before the story was written down. You can see an example here. At the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, you can see artifacts from this area and supposed time (where I have seen with my own eyes the type of jewelry that this would be referring to). From doing that, it really looks like things such as these bracelets and gold rings were used for currency a lot more at this particular time in history. Later on, in a story such as this you would have more references to gold, money, cattle, or more established forms of barterng.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Please help me go to seminary! (a request, a plea)

paul-greek-manuscriptIn 2008, I graduated from college and moved to Philadelphia to head to seminary. I ended up not returning to that seminary program when the year was out, primarily for money issues (and some others). Four years later, I’m now going back (to a different seminary). And again, I’m trying to be conscious of money.

I know this is weird, and maybe a little presumptive, but I’m asking blog readers for some help with my seminary textbooks. I have made an Amazon Wishlist with my Fall textbooks, and I’m just throwing it out there to see if anyone could help buy me some of these. They are mainly just “normal” books that are being used as textbooks for classes (nothing over $20), but put altogether, they can add up. I have specifically chosen the Kindle version for some books, and the physical for others, so whatever is on the list is what I need.

I’ve been running this blog for over 8 years, and have written over 800 posts so far. It has been named one of the Top 50 Divinity blogs, has sent me to Guatemala, given me the opportunity to write for several other sites, and has twice been featured on the WordPress homepage. My hope is that if I may have (accidentally, of course) said a thing or two that was helpful, challenging, or enjoyable to you, you might consider coming alongside me to help support and further the work for which this blog has been my primary outlet.

If money is more your preferred way of supporting those in need, you can also make donations through PayPal. And of course, if you can help in neither of those ways, I would appreciate all the prayer you can spare me. So if you read this post, and know you won’t be able to support monetarily, would you take a few moments and offer a brief prayer for me?

I know this is all weird. I’m not expecting much (if anything), but I’m interested to see what happens. So, I would appreciate if you can give as you are able, to show your support for what I do and what I want seminary to help equip me for. Thank you so much for any way you can help. Once more:

P.S. I’ve never used an Amazon Wishlist before, so if there are any problems, please let me know. Thanks again.