I was attending a multiple speaker workshop event at a hotel facility. The theme had to do with religious and spirituality topics. I knew few of the people attending. One of my older brothers was there.( I am the youngest of seven brothers.) One of the young well-known presenters was due to speak and he came running toward me wanting to share something or ask a question. I was astonished he knew me let alone wanted something from me. In the chaos we did not get to have any exchange. I mulled this over and attended the next workshop where I knew he would be present. In the meantime my bother was expressing irritation at this same man for delaying the previous session . I did not tell him it was because the man was looking for me. I could tell my brother did not appreciate this man's work or positions on the issues being discussed. I had no idea what the issues were. Finally I was in a room where the popular speaker was and asked him if he had tried to contact me earlier. He said, "Why yes, I wanted to pray before the presentation and felt like you would join me. I also wanted to let you know the theme of my talk." I thanked him for his interest in me and stated my regret we had not been able to connect. I asked him what his theme was. He pointed to array of books and to a specific one. The title was something like, 'Does God Promise the Faithful Prosperity?' The book jacket had pictures of Biblical story references and also I noticed a depiction of one of the American founding fathers. I was not particularly impressed with or excited about his theme. It was pretty obvious he was defending the idea that God does promise those who are 'faithful' some measure of worldly prosperity. My initial opposing thought was that this implies very poor people are not under such a Sacred blessing.
REFLECTION: Again a dream that I'd so prefer to forget. The issues raised irritate me. I associate it with the TV evangelism ' prosperity gospel' which I find repulsive. Yet the fact that I am irritated probably means I do not have a clear idea as to what I do think or believe about the connection between sincere faithful living and financial prosperity. Thus the dream. And I do not wish to think it through. It just strikes me as a nonsense question. Never would I look at a wealthy person or a poor person and think that what brought them such a fate was due to either their faith or lack of it. So to me the theme just stinks and seems to have no merit all. I likely would not have stayed for the presentation.
I was the guest of a 'wealthy' couple in Houston while attending a church workshop in 1982. I was impressed that in the midst of their riches they seemed to have strong spiritual values and cared about such issues as poverty and homelessness. That destroyed any negative stereotypes I was prone to have about 'the rich.' So why does the dream push this issue into my face? Nothing in the dream gives me a clue whether the popular presenter represents a person of integrity, intelligence and authenticity of thought or not. What does it really take to have a rack of books at a workshop? It is certainly an achievement beyond me but it demonstrates very little of ones spiritual personal values. Was his interest in me sincere or the opposite? The dream seems to leave me with nothing but the question, "Does 'faithfulness' to life and our understanding of God result in financial prosperity?" Is there some promise from the Sacred realm that such human living and effort will be rewarded financially? I know there are scripture statements that suggest this, " ....receive a hundred fold in this life and more in the life to come" or something similar. There are many such allusions in the O.T. especially. Are these nonsensical, with no tangible meaning today, do they only refer to some believed afterlife blessing? I can understand Bible literalism would have to lean toward there being a connection between' faithful' living and financial well being. But I shudder to think of believing such a thing.
But where am I? What do I think? I definitely consider myself financially fortunate at this stage of life. I have a pretty much guaranteed monthly financial income so that I do not have to earn more to pay the basic bills and I do most anything that is my present custom to do. I have well more savings than I would have imagined 30 years ago. ( Maybe not after this present market plunge.)So far I've not had to use that savings for daily living, so it pleases me that I might leave my children a significant financial gift. I can contribute what I choose to service and charitable organizations. I find myself surprised at this level of financial freedom and am regularly quite grateful to life and all Sacred forces. I wish every person could live a retirement with that much financial security. Do I think this is connected to my 'behaving well' and 'living faithfully and responsibly?" I could likely 'see' some connection , especially with the 'responsibly' part for I am fiscally conservative but I am convinced there are others who have lived just as 'faithfully and responsibly' who are not financially comfortable, who are in fact in dire poverty this very moment. So the whole idea falls apart when checked out in actual human lives. I just do not have any image that an Ultimate God decided that Jim should be given these things. I guess that is where I am with most of life's circumstances... that the Ultimate God does not sit back outside of the situation and DECIDE that a person should have this or that? Somehow that is just not where and what God is. I have had those times when some material need were met at just the right time and in an unimagined way. This would be an example of synchronicity which often generates a 'belief' that there are benevolent forces at work beyond any causal factors. But surely many humans have had needs that are never met in such a way, even resulting in their death. I am left with my hand over my mouth for I can think of nothing reasonable or compassionate to say. I think we need to transcend the image of God as a 'super powerful being' who is primarily located 'out there' and controls what happens to people and rewards those who 'do well enough.'
I think to a great degree we humans in our organized communities, nations and cultures have much to say through political policy whether the prosperity that comes to us from the Earth is to generally and equally benefit our fellows in human life, or primarily only those connected to political power. Right now that is totally out of balance in America with some 2 percent in charge of over 40 % of the produced wealth with its accompanying political power to decide the nation's future.
|The Country's wealth has shifted even more to the top by 2012.|
We do not seem to live by , 'we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor' as beautifully expressed in our American Declaration of Independence. We have become more of an 'everybody is on their own' nation politically and economically. America, through its government, in the past has shown much evidence of honoring such an ideal. And believing it is the role of a compassionate people, and their collective government of the people, to see that its citizens do no live the indignity of poverty with fundamental needs not being met. Who can argue that the Earth does not generate enough resources for that to be the case, if we want it to be. For example, before Social Security a high percentage of our elderly were in poverty. Together we've made a big difference in the well being of our nation.
So, great personal wealth likely shows little if anything about ones real character and soul. But what one desires and wishes regarding the well being of human brothers and sisters says much about character and soul. And what our collective institutions demonstrate in seeking such goals shows the character and soul of the nation. That 'care of each other' is the kind of 'Salvation' that is more important than the 'individual salvation' and 'gong to heaven' that has become so popular in today's Christianity. The same is true about the desire and longing to maintain the Earth, its ecosystems and its longevity.
I think the hypothesis that there are underlying 'archetypes of reality' through which a Sacred Divine voice and force expresses itself as part of shaping cultural and personal life which inherently moves to bring whole and healthy consequences is of great practical value. Cultural prosperity and personal well being could be rightly seen as a result of 1) individuals and groups attempting to live courageously, lovingly , honestly and as consciously as they are capable. Coupled with 2) the Collective Unconscious archetypes that promote life and inform human consciousness of such values as 'pledging our mutual lives, fortunes and Sacred honor to each other.' And poverty might be seen as evidence of the opposite of this dual cooperation of Human and Sacred..
So it helps me to imagine the economic blessings that potentially come to humanity through the fruit of the Earth as a combination of the life promoting archetypal forces coming to consciousness from what can be called Sacred, The Collective Unconscious; and our mutual human efforts to hear and live by those voices however they are heard. This is a cooperative effort of Sacred and Human. I think the blessings coming from this combination have much more to do with the 'blessing of the nations' , the people, the cultures than they do first only the individual. And individuals who find themselves with exceedingly more than needed access to the fruits of the Earth might be stirred by a sacred desire that attempts to create political and governmental systems(Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may be attempting to model such an attitude with their foundations.) that make it more likely fellow citizens of the world will experience living without the fear of basic needs not being regularly attainable.
It is just as important that equal considerations be made to assist and encourage each person to find the unique gifts s/he has that when practiced in daily activity benefit others. This requires social and religious leadership that helps people secure the education and productive ways to work and serve the community. These may be works and services that add directly to economic value or they may be services and work that provide appreciation for all that encompasses life and the spiritual/emotional well being of each other and cultural development. I see this perspective of 'how humans are financially prospered' as consistent with the basic teachings and actions of Jesus, the concept of the 'golden rule' and of the beautiful ways some of the apostle Paul's writings elevate the value of 'seeing' and backing the worth of each Human brother and sister. His famous ode to love of I Corinthians 13 could potentially be a human manifesto of relating to and serving 'the collective human good.' With such a vision the question of 'Does God prosper the faithful?' becomes irrelevant. This is the best I can do now at answering the complicated question the dream has posed for me. Jim