(RNS) Christians Shatter Taboos in Talking about Money

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No sooner had 29-year-old Graham Messier joined a small group at his church earlier this year than he found himself breaking an American taboo: talking about how much he earns, and where it all goes.
Others in the group did likewise as they kicked off an eight-week program aimed at reconciling personal finances with Christian rhetoric about economic justice.

It’s countercultural, they said, but it works.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship

Posted May 26, 2011 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Jon wrote:

America has a taboo against talking about how much you earn?  What planet is this reporter on?

May 26, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
2. David Keller wrote:

Note to Graham Messier and Jeffrey MacDonald—Christianity is counter cultural—but it works.

May 26, 4:20 pm | [comment link]
3. Branford wrote:

Well, maybe not an American taboo, but definitely a Southern one (at least when I was growing up) - money was considered not relevant to who you were. Now, Family - that was entirely different - of course you talked about that, that’s how everyone knew who you were.

May 27, 9:34 am | [comment link]
4. Ross wrote:

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and at least in the circles I move in we almost never tell anyone exactly how much we make—not even our friends.  Obviously we all have a rough idea, given that we know what each others’ jobs are, but naming exact figures is… perhaps not taboo, but certainly uncomfortable.

Unlike what Brandford says of the South, though, one’s family is not generally considered to be part of one’s defining identity.  In fact, anyone who acted like it was would probably be regarded with suspicion—why isn’t he or she standing on his or her own accomplishments?

May 27, 12:14 pm | [comment link]
5. Branford wrote:

Ross, that’s interesting that your understanding of a mention of family revolves around accomplishments. In the South, it’s a way to bring you into the group - an example, “Alice, I’d like you to meet Branford. His mother is your second cousin’s wife’s godmother.” There, now we know where we all stand - we’re practically best friends already!

May 27, 1:58 pm | [comment link]
6. Ross wrote:

Ah.  I had been envisioning something like introducing myself by saying, “I’m Ross… I’m a TenEyck, from the Oregon TenEycks.”  To which people would naturally respond, “Never heard of them, and why are you telling us that as though you think we should care?”

I can understand what you describe, but it wouldn’t work well here—thinking about the people I know, virtually all of us come from families that live in other states.  So it would be more like, “Alice, I’d like you to meet Ross… his family lives in Oregon and California, while yours lives in Minnesota, so… yeah.”

May 27, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
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