When you read these posts I hope you also read the replies, because many of them are more thought-provoking than the posts that inspired them! For instance, last time when I wrote about how I perceived Heifer International to be a great model of a gift economy. Lisa responded that it is a great business model, but not a true example of gifting because the recipient of a heifer or other animal is expected to take care of the animal in a prescribed way and pass the “gift” to another family. In contrast a true gift, according to Lisa…and Eisenstein…is given freely with no expectations.
I think I am close to saying everything I have to say about a gift economy, so two more posts, maybe? Of course I can never be sure because the posts write themselves when they are ready. (And that, my dears, is how the future is written–at least in my book…and in my posts.)
Anyway, lately I’ve been asking myself, in its purest form what would a gift economy look like?
I Don’t Know, But If I Write About It, Maybe I Will Find Out!
The Prosperity Gospel preaches that God wants us to be rich. Those on the other side of the spirituality and money issue, however, are quick to point out that Jesus, who, as far as we know, carried no cash, checks or credit cards–said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth…” and “Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin, yet your heavenly Father takes care of them…” And. oh yeah, let’s not forget his pronouncement that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
This One Is About Your Pearls, Swine And Casting, If You Get My Drift
Last time I ended with a question: what about those jerks who take advantage of generosity in a gift economy? In answer, I tell unto you a parable. Well, actually it’s a true story from a recent webcast featuring Charles Eisenstein answering questions about sacred economics. (Oh, this is too funny! I just typed “scared” economics instead of “sacred.” Interesting transposition: maybe this whole subject of economics doesfall into two basic categories: scared and sacred.)
Anyway, a woman called into the show to state that, impressed by the concept of a gift economy. she had become involved in setting up a store where those in need could help themselves to donated items. Can you believe it! complained the caller, there was this one woman who came in regularly, picked over the new items, took the best of the best and then sold them on E-Bay!
I won’t know the answer to that until I finish writing this post. Last week I attempted to summarize for a small group of my friends what, according to Charles Eisenstein, is wrong with a market economy. I was very disorganized with the pieces of information I threw at them, and even now my brain feels fuzzy when I think about all the moving parts. Still, I promised you. So I will keep my promise, but with a caveat: if I’m not having fun, I will stop and return to a state of spiritual ADHD and you will be SOL. What I mean by that is that you will have to read Sacred Economics yourself because I will be MIA.
No spiritual ADHA today, so onward and forward with my summary of Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics–accompanied by personal commentary and examples, of course. The central question the author poses is, Why is money not usually treated as something “sacred,” and how can we change that?
because my attention has been diverted to money. I’ve always been interested in money, but probably not in the way many people are. A few years ago I spent some time sorting through my issues around money, such as how I had unthinkingly adopted some of my parents’ perspectives about the commodity. One of those perspectives was that there was always enough for the necessities, but the luxuries were scarce. For example, unless I outgrew them, buying more than one pair of shoes in a school year was a luxury. One fall I made a huge mistake when I selected my pair from the store, and I had to live for an entire miserable year with shoes I hated. Another time, I made excuses of why I could only go on four rides at the county fair, excuses such as, they made me sick, or amusement park rides are just a dumb way to spend one’s time. The truth was that I was embarrassed that my parents had only given me one dollar to spend, whereas all my friends had three or four.