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Dec 12, 2007

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David M. Smith

“…from where does wealth come?”

Hi Michael,

I will take a shot. Wealth comes from ownership. When God declared, “Thy shall not steal”, he blessed ownership. Wealth is what we posses as individuals, or as groups, in excess of what we consume.

We can attain new wealth as a gift from a giver or as the difference between what we give and what we get. We lose wealth when we give more than we get. Some types of wealth, such as love and affection, will also grow by giving.

Economic transactions can also sometime produce wealth for a seller and a buyer. If the seller has what the buyer wants and the buyer has what the seller wants, both the seller and the buyer will have an increase in wealth if they can agree on a price for the transaction.

I have more thoughts, but I don’t like long comments, so I hope this comment starts the discussion.

Michael W. Kruse

Thanks David. I'm going to try my shot at this topic with my next post. I wonder if others have thoughts?

David M. Smith

Hi Michael,

I'm looking forward to your next post. : - )

nashbabe

Many people with a great deal of stuff are actually poor in many ways. I don't want to entirely get off the economic track here, but I do want to comment that many folks who have many trappings lack true abundance. Although you do have to have a certain amount of possessions to have abundance, having lots of them doesn't necessarily mean the owner of them perceives the abundance or acknowledges it. The high income people I have known, with a few remarkable and encouraging examples, are often just as unsettled and searching for more as anyone else. They don't really have abundance, not "abundant life", anyway. Sorry for that outburst, I'll now step off my soapbox and try to behave. :-)

Michael W. Kruse

Nashbabe, I think you are right on topic. I think we will see more of this emerge later. I'm just trying to proceed in small discussable nuggets.

Peggy

Wealth is a state of mind...how's that for being cosmic? But really, I am one of those "Ideaists" for whom the saying "to be is to be perceived" rings true. And so, being wealthy is all about right perceptions about what wealth is. This speaks not only to right perception of what wealth is, but also where it comes from...and God, being the ultimate perceived, is the source of all wealth. It comes down to seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and then we are able to perceive the wealth that is all around us, that is always coming to us every moment from God's abundance.

And, as I've been blogging about shalom at my home blog, this is a matter of contentment.

Peggy

That should be "the ultimate perceiver" ...it's late ;^)

RonMck

This is a good discussion.

I agree that we were not created for subsistence.

We were created in the image of God, so to be fulfilled, we must live a life that images God’s life. That includes being creative, productive, loving, caring and exercising authority.

I see wealth as opportunity. The man with the five talents had more opportunity than the man with one. Giving away all your wealth is a bit like burying a talent in the ground. It is a wasted opportunity.

Wealth provides access to goods and services that we do not need for survival. Those goods and services can be translated into human capital. They can be used to make us more productive in the service of other people.

Wealth also brings responsibility. I have to choose between using my wealth for my own pleasure or in serving others. I will have to give account to God for how I have used my wealth.

Michael W. Kruse

"to be is to be perceived"

Or as one of my favorite sociologists, Peter Berger said "What is perceived as real is real in its consequences." I think there is a lot of truth in what you say but I'd add a couple of things.

First, economic studies repeatedly show that wealth is highly correlated with happiness up to a fairly basic level of subsistance. After, that there is no correlation between economic wealth and happiness. Once we are past that basic level is where I think perception begins to play a much bigger role.

Second, since perception is so important, it is important to have "plausibility structures" (ala Peter Berger) that refelct back to us that our perceptions are indeed legitimate. That's why having Christian community that reflects back to us appropriate valuation is so important. Otherwise, we just "go native" with the surruonding culture.

Michael W. Kruse

Ron, I'm enjoying this discussion too. I really appreciate the presence of so many thoughtful people here to help me think this out.

Good comments. Thanks.

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