Years ago John taught the book of Luke in a high school classroom. This launched his journey of faith into what he terms “voluntary poverty,” or non-accumulation of wealth. In this episode he shares some practical parts of this journey and comments on when the rubber meets the road in his later years.
It is good to work and to be invested in our work. Distributism fits well with traditional Anabaptist values, even though it has largely been articulated by Catholic thinkers. Stephen Russell urges us to “look at distributism and see how it fits with what we have traditionally tried to do, and learn from it”. These themes include valuing craftsmanship, family businesses, and widespread ownership of the tools and infrastructure needed for business.
The Hound of Distributism edited by Richard Altman:
What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton:
Economic Policy Institute, “CEOs were paid 351 times as much as a typical worker in 2020.”
Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominique: “Men rich in virtue studying beautifulness living in peace in their houses.”
“Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them; nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self evident.”
“Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.
Watch Stephen’s testimony about exiting political engagement on YouTube.
Is the kingdom message socialism? What does the New Testament say about interest and lending? What about interest on business loans? And what really is laying up treasures in heaven? John calls us back to the willingness to give and share as the foundational issue for all of these questions.
Money has rarely been far removed from the biblical narratives or major conversations of the church since the New Testament. Between the close of the New Testament and the protestant reformation, the church had much to say about usury. Stephen Russell, a student of history, orients us to the church’s premodern stance on usury.
Recommended resource: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/catholics-and-usury-a-tragic-history
Kevin Brechbill urges business owners to pay employees well think carefully about where to give money, and to build accountability and transparency around their role as business owners.
Money, Possessions, Eternity by Randy Alcorn: https://amzn.to/3ujopoy
- Marlin Sommers
“The chicken showed me where the chickens are getting out,” said my son. We soon fixed that hole in the fence. (Unfortunately, there were more.) What stuck with me were the words “the chicken showed me”. Those words indicate observation and attentiveness. And, perhaps I push the point too far, openness to learning from the chicken.
Philosophizing about knowing (i.e. epistemology) may seem arcane or excessively technical. However, what increasingly strikes me is that our mindset toward knowing and the way we think about knowledge ties into our overall stance toward life. Whether or not we study formal epistemology, we all have a functional epistemology: our conception of what knowing is, our ideas about what (and who!) it is worthwhile to know, and ideas about how we can gain knowledge. The first part of this essay highlights epistemological thinkers and themes that I find helpful. The second part notes thinkers and themes I have encountered in various parts of my life that exemplify the approach to knowing outlined in part one.
What Is Knowing and What’s Worth Knowing?
Steven Brubaker’s delightful essay, “A Mennonite Thinks about Knowing,” introduces key themes.1 What is worth knowing? God, first and foremost. God’s creation is also important and worth knowing. Humans are a key part of creation we should know and love. As humans, we also exercise creativity through our work, which results in what Brubaker calls “creation’s creation.” If we study history, or writings, or architecture, or carpentry, or any host of other things we are dealing largely with creation’s creation.
Joel Martin shares his story in this episode about deciding to stay Anabaptist. As a youth, Joel was discontented with the level of spiritual life that he saw in Anabaptist churches and planned to leave. Before he left though, a few events happened in his life that caused his perspective to change. Joel ends the episode by briefly sharing about the work that he is doing with All-Nations Bible Translation.
What is the importance of hospitality for Christians? How can one show a spirit of hospitality beyond just inviting others into their house? Bryant Martin, owner of Sowers Harvest Café, shares about the example of hospitality that Jesus left for his disciples. Bryant quotes Mark Glanville saying, “We learn from Jesus fellowship meals that our tables should be places of radical welcome, especially for those who feel lonely and on the outside. This is the shape of the Kingdom of God!” The next episode we will release will be part two of this interview.
This episode is part two of an interview with Bryant Martin about hospitality. Here Bryant moves from describing the importance of hospitality to telling personal stories about how he has seen being hospitable work out. Bryant finishes the interview by quoting Rosaria Butterfield, “Radical, ordinary, and daily hospitality is a basic building block for vital Christian living. Start anywhere but do start.”
In today's bonus episode, Matt Landis continues an earlier conversation regarding Anabaptists and technology. How do we as Anabaptists determine what technology to allow? What are areas of concern when using computers or the internet? Listen as Matt gives observations and insights into how we as Anabaptists approach this important topic.