Cha-ching, bling-bling, and ring-a-ling

Christmas season is supposed to be a time of happiness and cheer, correct? Yes, yes it is. Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself of that. I suspect I’ll truly enter into the holiday spirit sometime late Friday night when I get to my parent’s house and start eating some of Mom’s Christmas cookies. Mmmmm . . .

Let’s talk about money. It is fashionable, predictably fashionable, to disparage money, especially during this time of the year. Indeed, what person is so shallow as to love money? In truth, we all do, at least all of us that live in the real world. Furthermore, during this time of the year, most of us are especially guarded against the Specter of Materialism because it is in direct contradiction to the True Meaning of the Season and the Spirit of the Holiday. The same thing is blasted at us from every pious and not-so-pious corner: Materialism and Things are The Bad, Love and Family are The Good. Last time I checked, my truck doesn’t run on Love, and Family doesn’t keep me warm at night (unless you’re lucky) and the rain off my beloved machines. Clearly, Love and Family are precious, perhaps crucial, perhaps necessary, to life and stuff, but to a great degree so is money. So what does money do? Money pays our bills. Money heats our homes. Money quantifies our work. Money helps us express our love to others. Money is an avenue of charity. Money, for better or for worse, is the propellent of the developed world.

Of course, this is not to say that the love of money has not been abused to cause great evil. I’m reminded of Father Barry’s inspiring monologue in On the Waterfront (it’s worth seeing the movie solely for his sermon in the ship’s hold). Before he comes to his conclusion he reminds us:

You want to know what’s wrong with our waterfront? It’s love of a lousy buck. It’s making love of a buck— the cushy job— more important than the love of man. It’s forgetting that every fellow down here is your brother in Christ.

This is what seems to stick in our minds when we think of money: the evil, the materialism, the fallen quality of money. If our love of money usurps our love of man, then surely we have gone too far. But money is a neutral object, and so it can be a tool for everybody to use for great good, as Father Barry comments earlier in his monologue:

He [Christ] sees why some of you get picked and some of you get passed over. He sees the family men worrying about getting their rent and getting food in the house for the wife and kids. He sees them selling their souls to the mob for a day’s pay.

As long as money can be used to buy families food, it will never be an altogether Bad Thing.

I’m afraid I’ve gotten a little preachy — and I don’t intend to preach as I assume I’d be preaching to the choir regardless — but sometimes it does seem people get a little carried away with the Spirit of the Season and lose touch with reality. Warm fuzzies are nice but not that nice.

5 thoughts on “Cha-ching, bling-bling, and ring-a-ling

  1. Indeed, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself. But it is very difficult not to have a great deal of money without becoming overly attached to it. I would argue that the proper attitude towards money is not an unhealthy love of money, nor is it a great antipithy to money, but a general unconcern towards money.

    “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

    And, may I say, Family may not keep you warm at night, but on the other hand, you do not yet have a wife.

  2. that’s so funny, i was just thinking today how much money sucks. it really does. my church had ben and i go to couples therapy before we got married (so they could see that we were serious and not just giddy) and our therapist told us that money is the #1 reason couples fight, and i didn’t believe him, but as it turns out he wasn’t far off. and if we didn’t need money, ben could be a full-time artist like he initially tried to do before the total lack of money made us fight. see, it’s a vicious cycle 😦 not like it’s a huge gigantic problem, but i could do without it. and money prevents people (especially creative people with liberal-arts degrees, hee) from doing what they’d really like to be doing… which for me right now is laying on a beach somewhere and drinking. although i don’t *technically* need money to do that…

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