Monday, August 6, 2012
MYERS on Economy and GNOSTICISM
"We’re not materialistic enough… I think that we’ve over-spiritualized our relationship to God. In the Scriptures, how we deal with all aspects of creation is clearly part of our relating to God. The separation of the spiritual and the material is a gross error in modern Western thought. It’s like the heresy of Gnosticism in the early church. We’re still afflicted with that dualism. In public life, we think of God like Deists do as the Great Engineer. In private life, God is warm and fuzzy. We have this schizophrenia.
We rely on God through the ministry of others. Luther said, When we pray to God, Give us this day our daily bread … He doesn’t send manna from Heaven. He raises up farmers and bakers and shopkeepers. The way God gives us our needs to us is by the vocations and hands of those people."
- Ken Myers
"We are willing to pay for convenience, how much would you pay for community? How much are you willing to pay for contentment?
On the sharing of tools – an exercise in neo-neediness. Stephen Marglin, who wrote The Dismal Science: How thinking like an economist undermines community, starts by looking at the idea of insurance and how the rise of first fire insurance, which emerges after the great fire of London in the 17th century, and then later life insurance, came to displace systems of communal reliance. So prior to the rise of insurance as a commodity, there were all sorts of societies and mechanisms whereby if someone’s barn burned down the community would come together because they realized that if Farmer Jones looses his barn, the community suffers… and it did, practically. Today, if your garage burns down, nobody suffers. So today, we don’t need each other as much as people once did. And I’m convinced that community is actually sustained, not just by feeling warm feelings about people, but through the messy aspects of need. So if you and 3 of your buddies are going to share a router or some other power tool, you are entering into a contract of neo-neediness – you really could all afford one yourself, but by not having one yourself, and having to accommodate each other’s schedules and by everyone having to keep the thing sharpened or whatever – suddenly you’re in this awkward situation where you’re in this practical relationship with someone instead of this merely spiritual relationship. And this it’s a discipline like fasting. You learn things when you’re in that kind of deprivation – things about yourself and others."
When are we in a situation of economic crisis? If wealth is perilous, then the real crisis is occurring when everyone is getting richer. But what makes something a crisis? Perhaps this is a great blessing from God, for us to come to this recognition.
-Ken Myers, commenting on the current ‘economic crisis’
[At the same conference on Christian Thinking about Economics, his co-speaker said:]
"It is actually spiritually, very helpful because I want my relationship with God to be that kind of convenient too. Now I want to be able to pray and … get an answer! Because in every other aspect of my life, I can problem solve and I’ve got the money to make it happen, but I’m not learning about … like … waiting."
- Dr. Amy Sherman