VOW OF POVERTY

I was listening to a psychologist on TV. One woman had $300,000 and lost $100,000 in her investments. Another woman had $100,000 and inherited the same amount. Even though they both wound up with the same amount of money, the first woman was alternately angry and depressed, while the second woman was ecstatic.

The monks I’ve met at New Mellery Abbey don’t even own their habits. They, of course, take a vow of poverty. That, however, doesn’t mean they live poorly. Sometimes they have good wine with their dinner. Sometimes they have steak.

Their vow of poverty doesn’t prevent them from enjoying some of the good things in life. What their vow of poverty does is prevent them from thinking that they own, that they possess any of the things they enjoy.

I can’t help wondering if this economic downturn is painful because we think like the first woman. I wonder if what the politicians say they are going to defend?#34;i.e. “our way of life”?#34;is really something we think we are entitled to.

If that’s true, it means that the important recovery we as a nation need to make is more attitudinal than economic.

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Tom Holmes

Tom's been writing about religion – broadly defined – for years in the Journal. Tom's experience as a retired minister and his curiosity about matters of faith will make for an always insightful exploration...