Now we turn to a more direct example of the supposed conflict between economic work and spiritual health. This is from the fascinating study of Cistercian economic activities penned by Constance Bouchard.[i] Bouchard states the crux of her argument like this:
“Whereas modern scholars usually contrast spirituality and economic success, the Cistercian order in Burgundy, in its first century of development and expansion, was able to participate in the multiplying economic activities of the period and at the same time continue to be considered by its secular neighbors an intensely holy order whose monks had the ear of God.” (ix-x)
I note again that “secular” used above means what it has meant to older generations and still means to the Roman Catholic Church: those Christians who, in contrast to the “regular” (rule-following) monastics whose daily round focused on eternity, engage in the business of the world and of “this age” (the saeculum). Thus even priests were considered seculars. And certainly knights, peasants, and craftsmen as well – most of whom would have been trying to live as Christians, and had at least elementary understanding of, and agreement with, key theological sources such as the creeds.
Bouchard “use[d] the rich but largely untapped Cistercian archives to study economic exchanges between the monasteries and their secular, primarily knightly, neighbors,” reviewing records of over 2,000 economic exchanges, nearly two-thirds of them never having seen print, and only accessible in Burgundian archives. (ix)
Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here’s a fascinating article on a Manhattan network that funds Christian-owned startup companies. And not surprisingly (to me), Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church is involved, providing seed funding to a bunch of startups already.
A couple of snippets, then the link:
The scene at the Faith and Tech meetup group is part of a small subculture of the tech world that supports Christian entrepreneurs. In contrast to the hard-partying, get-rich-fast lifestyle portrayed in a new Bravo reality show on Silicon Valley, these entrepreneurs and investors not only pray together, but also give financial support to faith-based startups and discuss how to build religious companies that are both financially successful and socially responsible.
. . .
In New York City, Redeemer Presbyterian Church has funded 20 startups over the past seven years as part of its annual small business competition. The church sees its investments as an outgrowth of its mission to serve the city, said Calvin Chin, director of entrepreneurship initiatives at Redeemer. To enter the competition, the business founder must be Christian — a rule meant to ensure that each startup operates in line with church values, Chin said. Continue reading →
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