Leading our Harvest Festival service, David Venus gave a thought-provoking discussion of the effects of money on society. He asked us to consider the questions: “to live simply, or to leave things as they are?” and “is happiness found in the pursuit of something else?” We must always ask ourselves if, in a society which believes that our needs are met by our ability to purchase, the way in which we are living devalues or adds value to our lives.
We considered earlier societies’ approaches to money and transferable credit, including Pacific societies which represented a person’s credit status by their possession of a large, immovable stone, showing that money is not the same as the things which represent it. Jesus’ “camel and the eye of the needle” story of the rich man shows that it is not so much money itself, as our attitudes to it, that matter. Is Heaven a state of mind within us? More recent history, such as the miners’ strike, show how societies can manage without money, if there is mutual aid for the welfare of the community. Is the current time of austerity one in which we should re-evaluate our lives? Many rich people, such as Karl Rabeder, have chosen to give away much or all of their money, seeing it as a burden. Ultimately, we hope that our harvest may be what we need, not what we want.