2011-02-18

Christianity & Personal Finance

Happy new year and all that.

Since my previous post, I've begun work as a writer and editor at a Seattle-based internet marketing company. I mention this for two reasons: firstly, to excuse the most recent stretch of posting dearth; and secondly, because my work has led me to the subject of today's post.


Currently I'm working on my company's guest posting project. [REDACTED]

Part of this process, unfortunately, involves sifting through tremendous lists of blogs we've amassed for potential propositioning. In the course of categorizing and examining hundreds of blogs, I've noticed something peculiar. I wasn't surprised by the abundance of Christian mommy-blogs, but this week I've discovered there are an awful lot of Christian personal finance blogs. A small number of them actually cite a few scraps of scripture on their 'about' pages to justify this bent, but for the most part they seem to share and be operating on the idea that their money belongs not to them, but to God, who gave it to them.

I'm not going to go into my objections to that idea itself, which are beside the point. What fascinates me is the fact that religion is driving these people to manage their money (quite effectively, to hear them tell it) and share their insights and experience doing so. Maybe this is just Weber's protestant work ethic at play in the 21st century, but I can't shake the feeling that this phenomenon is rather odd.

Of course, it isn't as if there aren't plenty of other personal finance blogs that aren't Christian. However, the rest don't present any religious leanings. Finance bloggers are writing about how to manage your money because it's what they know. Christian finance bloggers are writing about how to manage your money because they see it as a matter of religion.

That may be the heart of it: that the religious idea system of Christianity is designed to be all-consuming, subsuming every other subject, social role, or genre of discourse to itself. Clearly this tendency contributes to its adaptive strength, allowing the idea system to thrive and propagate (and of course it's particularly helpful to the survival of a religion when its followers are convinced their own financial resources belong to the religion's deity).

However, as ever, I'm obliged to point out that what may be highly adaptive for the idea system may not be healthy for its adherents, nor ultimately for the holistic system that is the world.

4 comments:

  1. I would be curious what percentage of those blogs merely give 'christian' money management advice, and what percentage are positioning products that will tell you how to manage your money according to the scriptures.

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  2. The ones I've seen have all been personal. They don't seem to be out to sell anything beyond their own advice.

    Moreover, only a few actually mention scripture. For the most part they just have this idea of money as God's gift, which entails their obligation to be financially responsible. That's what stood out to me: I want to be financially responsible because I work for my money and I need to keep it in order to stay afloat; these folks want to be financially responsible because they believe their money doesn't really belong to them (or at least that's what they seem to be saying).

    That said, no doubt there are more than a few financial snake oil types out there peddling something in the guise of Christian financial ideas.

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  3. Hey, fantastic blog. I was discussing your ideas on Longcat-Tagnol with my flatmate who's doing his MA in History of Art.

    Very interesting.

    Besides that reading over this I was hit by the protestant work ethic as soon I started reading. I'm sure of it. I've studied under Steve Bruce one of the leading Sociologists of religion and I'm sure he would follow this idea.

    Great stuff. Keep it up

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  4. Thanks for the kind words, Duckeggs. I try to keep puttering along. Hope you keep reading.

    I probably need to re-read Weber, and get more familiar with his protestant work ethic book. I'm sure he already covers everything I had to say here short of the bit where it's on the interwebs.

    Feel free to direct your Professor Bruce's attention here, though no doubt he has better things to do than look at my lowly scribblings. I'd be interested to hear his take.

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