Friday, February 20, 2009

Abundance and Scarcity

I've been doing a lot of thinking about abundance and scarcity. I attended a superlative institute at Temple Emanuel today that brought me back to these terms. The general topic of the institute was the chosen people and looked at Hebrew, New Testament and Qua'ran texts about God's chosen people. At the panel discussion and Q & A over lunch, there was much discussion of who does the choosing -- does God choose us or do we choose God -- and what does chosen mean -- are we special or are we chosen for a task. As may be unavoidable at an interfaith gathering like this, there was some undercurrent of Israeli-Palestinian relations (or lack thereof). While I was listening and, I hope, absorbing all the discussion, I was also thinking that these are all questions of abundance and scarcity.
While the terms are commonly used in a financial sense -- these days we hear more about scarcity -- they can as easily be applied in a more theological sense. If we see God as total abundance -- unlimited, unbounded abundance -- we will not worry about who is chosen, who will get, who God loves most. We will be freed to give abundantly of the gifts our abundant God gives to us. If we view things from a scarcity perspective, we worry about who will get the limited resources available. We take it upon ourselves to ration God's resources -- to determine who is "in" and who is "out," who is saved and who is not saved, who is chosen and who is not chosen. We offer ways to restrict the community of the chosen through Biblical interpretation, through what we term sins and through what sins ban us from an afterlife.
Is that not at the root of the Israel-Palestine discussion? How about ordination of women and homosexuals? Is that not the root of the marriage is between one man and one woman movement? Is that not at the root of how fundamentally or literally we interpret the Scriptures?
When we forget that God has no limits, when we forget God is pure abundance, we get ourselves in trouble. Imagine with me a world where we live in abundance, not in scarcity...

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