February 9, 2010

Apprehension, wealth, and number two

I often want to blog about religion, but I'm apprehensive. It feels inappropriate to discuss the scriptures and my testimony on the same site where I talk about poop. (Maybe I should just stop blogging about poop. Yes, these links are all unique posts concerning poop.) I've thought of starting yet another blog devoted solely to religious topics, but religious experiences are meant to be shared. And I'm lucky enough to have people that actually read this blog. I have mentioned church before, but there have been many moments where I've wanted to share an insight or an experience, and have held back. How do all of you other bloggers feel about this? Does any body else share similar reservations about publicly blogging about their testimonies? I think community is a vital element of testimony (I'll expound on that in another post), so I'm going to try and overcome my apprehensions and post more often about religion.

(Even though I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this knows me in real life, here's some brief background. I was born and raised in the LDS church. I went to BYU. Since college, I've been sporadically active and am trying to change that "sporadically" to "regularly." Regardless of my activity level, I've always lived a Mormon lifestyle and have a very strong testimony of the church.)

I'm going to start out slow. I LOVE Mormon blogs. My absolute favorite is Feminist Mormon Housewives (site not working currently, see here for now), though By Common Consent is a close second. Earlier today, I was reading a book review on Times and Seasons. It reminded me of several other excellent posts I have read on various bloggernacle sites about wealth and prosperity. For a couple of highlights, see here, here, and here (especially Amri's comment 17).

Each of those posts resonated strongly with me. Not because I think I'm wealthy (though I know compared to the rest of the world, I really am), but because I see a lot of wealth in my family. My family is very conservatively Mormon. They are very generous with sharing their wealth. But they subscribe to the idea that wealth is a result of righteousness and hard work. I think hard work often (but not always) relates wealth, but I firmly believe that wealth is largely obtained through luck. There are plenty of evil lazy rich people and even more good hard-working poor people. Prosperity (as defined in terms of dollars and assets) comes from being dealt a really good hand and knowing how to play it. I don't like conflating it with religion and righteousness.

I remember a family vacation, at my uncle's lake house. I was sitting with my dad in the upstairs living room, overlooking the lake that was just outside the back door. My dad asked me if I ever look at all this and wonder why I wasn't born into this family. Why I had the bad luck to be sent to my dad instead of his more prosperous younger brother. My dad was acknowledging the luck aspect of wealth, but still assigning it more importance than I think it deserves.

Whether I like it or not, ideas of wealth and prosperity are heavily infused into our religious culture. It's an interesting and often emotionally-charged discussion. Is wealth good or bad, or is it more complicated than that? For those of us lucky enough to be wealthy (and really, all Americans should be considered wealthy), what are righteous uses of that wealth? How much of that wealth should we be sharing? Where do we draw that line between want and need? While I'm not exactly sure how I feel about any of it, but it is definitely a discussion worth having.

I know that's kind of a cop-out ending. But if I felt like I had to have draw persuasive mind-blowing conclusions every post, I'd never talk about anything but poop. And thus ends this installment in Jamie Tries to Talk About More Religion. (This doesn't mean I'm going to stop posting about silly things. In fact, look for another one of those obnoxious Survivor posts coming soon.)


Kerry said...

have you read "outliers?" it's about what causes success statistically speaking--and what parts of success we're in control of (not a lot) and what ones we're not (most of them). anyway, I thought it was mindblowing. or paradigm blowing at least. and it's an easy enough read (I read it in a single plane flight.)

Deja said...

i like this plan where jamie talks about religion. and agree that it's a tricky blogging topic.

whenever i think about money and faith, i am slammed with guilt. i know god wants us to use our resources wisely and generously, but i am so terrible with money. being terrible with money is depressing enough: thinking about it being, well, sinful, is almost too much to handle. sigh.

not like that's a good excuse/reason not to think about it. and so, i say, thanks for reminding me. good post, here.

Brokenbyclouds said...

Everything I think about when it comes to money and religion is summed up in two articles written by Hugh Nibley. He just nails it spot on for me.

The articles are "Work we must, but the lunch is free" and "But what kind of work?"

Jilly said...

Having worked in an industry where wealth and spirituality were pretty much synonymous, I have a lot to say on this topic.

Too much to post in a comment. Besides, you know most of it anyway.

Intriguing post. I giggled every time you said poop.

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