Be wary of the ‘religion of acquisition’ |

Be wary of the ‘religion of acquisition’

Start LivingRev. Torey LightcapGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

If you’re like most people, you have a love-hate relationship with money: You love having it, but you hate the idea of having to get it and manage it, or of having your every waking thought be dominated by it.Just like a computer, a car, or a screwdriver, money is a tool, a technology – a means of getting something done. It trades hands in order to move goods and services. Not really worth getting worked up over, right?

The problem comes about when we begin to assign meaning to money that moves it beyond the realm of its simply being a tool. No surprise there: We humans are wired for meaning-making, and we have ascribed all sorts of philosophical roles to all manner of tools. (Stop and consider the Matrix films as a commentary on our computer-mediated society, or the impact of the song “If I Had a Hammer” as an anthem of the Civil Rights movement.)But money is the main way we get stuff, and getting stuff is one of the central tenets of our culture and time. We’re taught that to be a vital part of what’s happening (i.e., to “live well”), we need the ready resources money provides. Get stuff, get happy … and as long as we believe in the persistence of that logic, we will have something to cling to that is fully supported by almost everything we touch and see.Except that it’s a big fat lie.

It’s true that I’m an American raised in the mid-South Bible Belt during the Reagan/”Bush 41″ years, and that I still basically believe now as I was taught then: That people need both money and incentives to realize many of their life goals, and that this in turn is how the world spins in its everyday business mode. However, the sun will set and rise without regard to fluctuation in the Dow; the contents of my checkbook may keep my health up, but they won’t keep me from getting older and dying someday; and, importantly, no one has yet to actually see a market.We aren’t just nominally influenced by this concept called money. We are coerced and cajoled by it, and it can easily become our sole reason-for-being as we move through our lives. This powerful force that dominates the conscious mind can also own our emotional life, as the quest for survival or acquisition becomes a way of living out of a place of fear.Fundraising consultants to the nonprofit sector enjoy telling people like me that most people operate out of a mentality of fear and scarcity when it comes to their money, rather than a mentality of abundance. I suppose that’s true as far as it goes, but I have stopped praying for abundance and started praying instead for good old sufficiency and adequacy. I’m less interested in the American tendency to gobble up and more interested in learning how to be a good steward of the things I already have, and if that makes me less popular with my accountant, then so be it.

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t let your emotions be ruled by the religion of acquisition. Like all things, it’s an idea whose time will someday pass, and we – like the punch line to some great cosmic joke – will be left holding a bunch of stuff we never needed in the first place.The Rev. Torey Lightcap is Priest-In-Charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs, ( Rev. Lightcap and his wife Jacqueline moved to Glenwood with son Gabriel last summer after serving St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church in Conroe, Texas. They are expecting another child in August.

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