by Sandy Lindahl
This class illuminates the reach of stewardship practices far into our personal and societal lives. "Holistic Stewardship" involves recognizing our choices and making decisions that contribute to the wholeness of our lives and those of others, even of all Creation. Moving beyond the traditional questions of using our "time, talent and treasure" this content raises questions about cultural assumptions, compares economic models, and considers the global implications of personal and communal decisions.
"The nature of enough" alludes to the difficult questions about determining sufficiency for all of life to be in balance. The typical tug-of-war between the contrasting lenses of abundance and scarcity is an important factor as people determine what is "enough" in any given situation. Class participants will read various writers' ideas on how people can seek sufficiency in their everyday routines and the influence they may have in broader spheres such as the current economic system and collaborations among distinctly different societies.
As Christians, our faith compels us to love one another and to look after all living beings and this planet we share. This is our role as stewards. For each of us, our very lives are the first gifts we receive. It matters how we conduct ourselves in this life, in this mystery of mysteries. In this class, participants will envision "God's economy" for sustaining life. There are great imbalances today in wealth and privilege such that the very Earth is suffering as well as its people, plants and creatures. Understanding that this imbalanced system is a choice that can be altered is a desired outcome of this class.
Participants will be able to describe the perspective that Christians are stewards of God's mysteries, and to introduce others to practices that can help shape a broad and deep understanding of how God is at work in our world today. Participants will examine their personal history with money and compare their attitudes and assumptions to their spiritual values.
Participants will be able to identify ways that wealth, compassion and community are addressed in Christianity and to apply those concepts in personal and congregational decision-making. Each participant will delve into one topic to deepen understanding through direct experience.
Michael Schut gathered numerous articles and essays from a wide variety of writers in his book, Money and Faith: The Search for Enough. Selections for this class include thoughtful pieces by Schut himself along with Ched Myers, Sallie McFague, Walter Brueggeman, Lewis Hyde, Ted Nace, Leonardo Boff, Rich Lang, Wayne Muller, K. Killian Noe, Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist, Andy Loving, Susan Wilkes and Jim Klobuchar.
Lynne Twist, in The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources, guides readers in exploring how "sufficiency, freedom and purpose" can result from aligning our practices and decisions with our core human values. Using her experiences as a global activist and fundraiser, she shares the wisdom she gained from interacting with people in other cultures.
Additional resources will be suggested for those who wish to expand their reading and study.
Each participant will write a money autobiography, examining the role of money in their lives and connecting it to their faith values. It is critical for stewardship leaders to gain self-understanding of how personal experiences shape us and form the biases we carry. While the money autobiographies will be private resources, participants will share their insights with the class.
Participants will choose an activity from several options designed to allow deeper exploration of a particular topic. A brief paper to summarize the activity and outcomes will be shared with the class.