My wife, Donna, and I were reminded of our youthful choice to live counter culturally when we viewed a documentary outlining the systemic favoring of “whites” over “blacks” in wealth building. Blocking dark skinned people from the privileges of the generational wealth building enjoyed by light skinned people was one of the characteristics that deterred us from immersing ourselves in the prevailing wealth building systems. But even if race had not been invented as a way of eliminating competition, our view would still be that the emphasis on devoting one’s life to material gain is an incomplete view of humanity. To the extent that wealth building determines the way anyone lives, they are the slaves of wealth building.
The overriding prejudice is against those who do not have their own wealth, regardless of “race.” If you do not have self-sufficiency, you tend to be ostracized. It might be said that poverty is an equalizer of all people. This is why we choose entrepreneurialism over dependence upon a position in systems devoted solely to material wealth, not so we can be “ostracized” but to pursue a better way.
A Self-Destructive System
In the common materialistic system one’s degree of honor and power grows in relation to the extent of one’s self-sufficiency, the amount of material wealth enabling a person to be independent of the community. In this way the community matters only to the extent that it helps you insulate yourself from its needs and challenges. This is essentially a self-destructive system.
So it goes that everyone is encouraged and enticed to devote their lives to the pursuit of the highest level of material empire possible. The idea is that while laboring toward some kind of personal utopia everything else valued by humans, the “intangibles” such as spiritual life, are okay if you 1.) can get a job to manage them, 2.) eventually earn the leisure to attend to them, or 3.) are able to squeeze in a little, regular time slot for them.
The Alternative Way of Faith
Jesus demonstrated the way of trusting God to provide for all as we each care for the others — the way of Love rather than the way of hierarchy, competition, greed, self-sufficiency, independence, suspicion, and defense against each other — all of which engenders poverty, injustice, racism, war, violence, abuse, and slavery. In contrast, it is with all poor and marginalized that Christ stands in solidarity, regardless of race.
Many consider the way of faith as, at best, an optional method of support for the main goal of material wealth, though many have turned it into another scheme of empire building. I have struggled to learn by trial and error how to live spiritually in a society focused on the material. On one hand I have been taught to keep God within limits by retreating into a subculture emphasizing only the spiritual, while on the other hand I have lived among those who use the “God idea” to sanctify materialism and justify white privilege.
The Faith I Am Learning
I believe that the Spirit we cannot understand, who created us and all things, is able to expand us. It has been my experience that this faith fuels creativity and equity. Often it looks like a kind of cooperative entrepreneurialism. Donna and I have inherited our entrepreneurial attitude from our ancestry. It has long been associated with spirituality, teaching us to trust God to amplify what we can do by the labor of our hands and minds. It is a belief in collaboration and partnership between people and between us and God, the belief that humans are co-creators with our Creator. (For those who appreciate the biblical basis, Google these: Genesis 1:27-30; I Corinthians 3:9, 16-17; Colossians 1:9-20; Ephesians 2:10)
The entrepreneur views the challenges and needs of life as opportunities for collaboration, for the community to join forces and act as a Body without artificial exclusion. Each member does their part and enjoys the benefits that are discovered by that Body regardless of the part they contributed; notice no reference to the color of their skin! A key place where we get this is in the Apostle Paul’s description of the Body in which no member suffers dishonor. (I Corinthians 12:12-31; Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:15-16)
Dissolving injustice, racism, and disparity between rich and poor, must have some basis in teaching and demonstrating how to awaken to our True Selves as co-creators with God, rather than doubling down to the pursuit of material wealth for the few who succeed. Material wealth is not the solution to inequity but it can be an evidence that inequity has departed from our souls. When that occurs, every single individual will enjoy the wealth of Creation.
As entrepreneurs we affirm the merger of material and spiritual. Forgoing the “benefits” of materialism, we exercise faith that humble, honest creativity aimed at blessing humanity and creation will be supported and rewarded by God. It is based on seeking communion with God both personally and communally in humility and solidarity with the poor and marginalized.
How I Try to Live It
My faith seeks the guidance of the Spirit in my material actions, the inspiration of the Spirit upon my intellect and imagination, even the Spirit’s gift of energy in my body to make new parts of the universe. The parts I make are meant to promote Love and to awaken others to their own life in the Body of God. This requires me to minimize connection to systems devoted solely to materialism and give priority to instances of the contemplative community which demonstrate the merging of material and spiritual.
To merge the material and spiritual is an intentional pursuit done in prayer and behavior, trusting and communing with God in contemplation, deed and word. Our view of the world becomes, as Richard Rohr says, “a world where matter is inspirited and spirit is embodied.” So far this is my description of spiritual entrepreneurialism.
This is the next step in human development: the choice to merge with the Spirit who made us, to awaken to the reality that we, as the creation of God, are the extension (children) of God. Choosing to live and behave on this basis engenders
- openness and respect toward the Spirit and others
- trust in and receptiveness to guidance from the Spirit 1.) directly, 2.) through others past and present, and 3.) through knowing the rest of creation
- humility to learn and change
- a growing ability to collaborate with others in creating and stewarding the universe
- living contentedly, optimistically, and joyfully in the moment
- promoting community of Love as the Body of the Spirit (See the last blog post “Power of the Tiny Particle”)
A New Kind of Engagement
This is a call to open to the much more powerful aspects of creation also known as Love, inspiration, eternal life, the way of healing, progress and abundance for everyone without threat of loss and death. This is a call for humanity to take the next step up in maturity.