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In Search of the Good Life: The Intersection of Christian Spirituality and Personal Finance

This fall we’ve invited Tim Mauer to spend ten weeks with us at Ridley to discuss the relationship between Christian spirituality and personal finance.  You can register for this and otheScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 7.47.44 AMr Ridley courses by clicking here.  

Jesus talked more about money than any subject other than the “Kingdom of God.”  His guidance, however, was often highly individualized, signaling that He is more concerned with the state of our hearts than our spending.  Our hearts are drawn to a vague but promising picture of “the good life” and we are innately motivated by goals that draw us closer to that ideal.  But too often, we settle for less, mistaking possessions or money as the end, when they can only ever be the means.

This class begins by establishing a foundation grounded in Scripture and Christian tradition, orienting our hearts and minds on the subject of financial management.  Then, we move into the practical space of personal finance, addressing the everyday topics of savings, debt, budgeting, giving, investing, insurance, retirement and estate planning within our newly established context.   (more…)

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

The Political Captivity of the Church

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.50.13 PM“The chief cause I fell out with the Pope was the Pope boasted that he was the head of the church, and condemned all that would not be under his power and authority.” -Martin Luther.

Ezekiel’s prophecy begins amongst the exiles on the banks of the Chebar canal.  If one wanted to reflect on a modern day captivity, I propose the Potomac may be a more suitable body of water.  The Christian church is undoubtedly in the throws of political captivity.  By “political captivity,” I don’t mean captive to the government.  Such a thing would require that the church be institutionally bound to and beholden to the state and effectively function as an arm of the state, the church’s “gospel” being nothing more than the theologizing of the political aspirations of the nation.  What I mean by “political captivity” is more abstract, but this does not mean less threatening.  A church captive to the government could at least struggle against flesh and blood, but the politically captive church must contend with the “cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph 5.12).  Thus it is a spiritual, intangible, struggle.

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This post was written by Rob Sturdy

Let’s Talk About Money

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 9.49.56 AMGrowing up in the Deep South I learned early on that sex, religion, and politics composed the unholy trinity of impolite dinner conversation.  Nevertheless, if Flannery O’Connor is to be believed, even southerners will engage in such illicit conversations from time to time (as long as their minister isn’t present).  As such, sex, religion and politics are not truly unclean, at least in the Levitical sense, but simply faux offenses to be transgressed amongst friends.  If you wanted a truly taboo topic, one that is guaranteed to bring an embarrassed hush to your dinner guests, then talk about money.

As Neal Gabler, writing for the Atlantic has recently pointed out, money talk is often avoided due to the shame associated with having too little of it or managing it poorly.  Though middle-class Americans appear to be financial stable, Gabler asserts that nearly half of all middle-class Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  Others avoid money talk, as Julia Llewellyn Smith points out in the Telegraph, because they’re ashamed of having too much in an economic downturn. But talking about money may be worth the shame as well as the struggle.  After all, if Millennials don’t learn to talk about money the 45% of respondents in this survey who didn’t know how much of their paycheck went to paying off their student loans will remain perpetually ignorant (and in debt!).  If young newlyweds don’t learn to talk about money and deal with it responsibly then money problems will most likely remain the #1 leading cause of divorce in the United States.

Christians are of course not immune to the above.  Indeed, they may even feel it more acutely.  For the Christian, money isn’t simply a means to an end, but it has existential weight.  Christians believe there will be a reckoning for how money was used while here on earth.  Was it used wisely?  Was it used justly?  Was it used generously?  I’ve found the there is much desire to be wise, just and generous with money amongst both Christians and non-Christians alike.  The problem isn’t the desire, but rather the overwhelming complexity of the conversation or the associated shame involved (see above).

This fall we’ve invited Tim Mauer, author, blogger, and financial advisor to come to Ridley and do something truly taboo.  He’ll be talking about money for a ten week course on the “Theology of Finance” based off of his newly released book Simple Money.   Tim’s got a gift for simplifying complex financial issues, as well as for putting people at ease around what can be a difficult subject.  Furthermore, he understands money is a much broader conversation than dollars and cents, but involves vocational and charitable goals as well as personal satisfaction.  If you were looking for some guidance around financial matters, or wanted Christian training in the wise, just, and generous use of money, then register to take Tim’s “Theology of Finance” either live in Mount Pleasant ($120) or via our live-stream service ($50) by clicking here and selecting Tim’s course in the offerings bar. The course begins on Sept 20 and runs Tuesday nights till Nov. 22nd.  Dinner begins at 6:30 with the lecture from 7:00-7:45.  Dinner is included in your registration price.

 

This post was written by Rob Sturdy

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