Money and faith present conflict between scarcity and abundance, Schut says

July 14, 2009

A person's relationship to money is fundamentally a spiritual question: "Do we experience life from a place of abundance or do we experience it in scarcity?" said Michael Schut to a handful of people July 14 in a presentation at the Studio 8 Discovery Center in Anaheim, California.

"We have this faith that supposedly says there is abundance, and we have this culture that at every turn says there is not enough and that you are not OK as you are," said Schut.

The presentation, "Money and Faith: The Search for Enough," was based on a book of the same name compiled and edited by Schut, associate program officer for economic and environmental affairs in the Episcopal Church Center's Advocacy Center. (Popular environmentalist and writer Bill McKibben, Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry and former Roman Catholic priest and former president of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide are all listed as contributors to the book.)

Schut's message echoed remarks made by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at the July 8 Christian Faithfulness in the Global Economic Crisis forum when he suggested the world look for other ways besides money to measure wealth.

To do so, Schut said, requires challenging some of our most basic assumptions, and employing methods other than gross domestic product (GDP) to measure growth that adjusts for social and environmental costs and that assesses the value of volunteers, for example.

Other basic and easy steps toward a more sustainable economy that can be practiced on a personal level include setting work aside on the Sabbath, which signals a "radical act of abundance" in saying there is enough time and that a person doesn't have to produce anything on that day. Another way is to tithe, which says you have enough and believe you will be taken care of, Schut said.

Studio 8 has programmed speakers for every day of General Convention. The studio was designed by the Discovery Center, partnership between the Christian Education Network of Province 8 and the Episcopal Church Center Adult Formation Office. Through Studio 8, the center offers traditional Christian formation resources, plus theatre, spiritual and technology space, representing the intersection of culture, media, technology and faith. The Episcopal Church’s Province VIII covers the western U.S.