A Money Coach in Canada

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Gulp.

My hands tremble whenever I shell out over $300 at a time.  Today I swiped out $605.00 to our local sports shop.  If it wasn’t for the fantastic service by Acki, I don’t know that I could have done it.

No more cotton t-shirt, wool cardigan, Roots hoodie and feather vest for this winter runner hopeful!  Now that I know I’ll be in Yellowknife a couple more years+, I took an icy breath and bought the following to handle running in the coming -30C.

  • Merino wool sports bra
  • Base Layer (merino wool)
  • Jacket (fleece lined windbreaker)
  • Thermal running tights
  • Salomon runners (gortex)

There are two problems though.

1. The jacket doesn’t have an inside pocket.  This means my iPhone (indispensable) will be in an outer pocket which will kill the battery in our -20C not to mention is more vulnerable if I fall.   Any suggestions for me on this?

2. The shoes, alas, I think must be returned.  The heel fits just a bit loosely and they slip up and down ever so slightly.  It’s ok for a brief bit but 30 minutes would turn into a real problem, I’m sure.  Or, when it’s cold, will I welcome the looseness for extra socks?

Photo Credit:  Teo

Word. The particular story and thoughts that follow derive from my faith tradition, ie., Christianity. I’m writing with my fellow Sojourners in mind, primarily. Those of other persuasions may also connect to the broad theme of the post (and I hope you do).

*****

The question was so loaded it was life-threatening and Jesus knew it.

“What do you say, Rabbi?”
“Is it lawful to pay this tax to Caesar?”

The offence of the tribute tax went deeper than just having to cough up money when you were already the oppressed. The currency in which the tax had to be paid inherently served as imperial propaganda before the age of advertising: Its imagery of Caesar made devastatingly clear who had the power and who was the vanquished. It was scorchingly and humiliatingly personal too, an item you held right in the very palm of your hand.

You have the coins and it means you are colluding and integrating with the Empire and the cult of emperor worship. You don’t have coins and you are outside the economic system and you probably don’t survive.

To be asked by the religious leaders “Is it lawful [by God as the Hebrews understood him] to pay the tribute tax?” is damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Answer “yes” and as a Jewish Rabbi you are now colluding with the Romans against God’s people. Answer “no” and the politicos in the crowd who helped frame up the question would legitimize killing you.

You know how Jesus answered the question. He first asked them to produce a coin (think of the implications of that), then asked the counter-question, “Whose image is on this coin?”. If you don’t know the rest of the story, it’s here.

What does this story say to us, two thousand years and a few cultures later?

Our coins, of course, are different. “In God we Trust,” some even read. Nonetheless coins, currency, money, are a construct of the empire (or world, if you prefer) in which we live. This empire does not crucify people or crush dissidents by leaving corpses rotting in our streets as a message to our families and communities or fund circus-spectacles featuring grotesque slaughters of men and beasts. But it is other. It is a construct. Unlike water, air, grain, milk, items all freely given to us as the necessities of life, money is a medium we humans created.

For some time now money hasn’t even been coin per se, nor even a representation of coin, but rather electronic blips and bytes representing ideas so complex and convoluted and separate from pretty much everything we know and understand that, frankly, we’ve pretty much lost track of it. It represents empire.

I argue this then. A healthy (holy?) stance towards money involves an internal distancing from it. I don’t mean negligence. I don’t mean rogue attempts to bypass currency with bits of silver or gold. Like it or not, we are as integrated with our empire as the Jews were in the Roman Empire. But let’s understand that money is no less a thing of “Caesar” now than back then.

Questions.

What does it mean when we assert our right to our “hard earned money”?

Are we consorting with the empire?

Photo Credit: HowardLake

I’d been trudging Yellowknife streets dejectedly knowing the entire rest of the planet is enjoying pumpkin spice lattes EXCEPT US UP HERE when my blogging buddy posted this homemade option. Suddenly, life is lookin’ up. My weekend project:

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Pumpkin Spice Lattes – Cook Like a Champion.

Photo Credit: Dalboz17

Dear Vancity,

When I worked for your subsidiary, there was much, and worthy, soul-searching going on:   Who were we and How would we show up in the marketplace?

If ever there was a time to stake your ground, surely it’s now!

It’s now, when a handful of your gutsy neighbours (who may even bank with you?) walked straight into the heart of your turf, the financial powerbrokers on Wall Street, and raised their 200 or so fists defying what financial institutions have become. And sparked a movement.

It’s now, when thousands  – millions?? – of Spaniards (oh!  those Spaniards!) spilled into the streets for 15O, indignant ones, speaking against the savage consequences of capitalist structures unchecked (uncheckable?) by political will (euphemistically speaking)

It’s now, when thousands of Oakland folks have tasted tear gas (including this woman in a wheelchair) for insisting that people come first:

It’s now, when this kid PWNS Fox News (for once, thank god, for once):

and when a Pulitzer Prize winner PWND Kevin O’Leary, Canada’s own lame-ass apologist for the worst of capitalism:

and when young mid-riff baring, cardboard placard bearing girls are corralled into red netting and then peppersprayed

So. In light of corralled girls and teargassed wheel-chair bound women and articulate youth and the hashtag #occupy showing up here, there, everywhere, does Vancity have something to offer? Yes, this vid gives a glimpse of a better way. It’s inspiring.

But it’s not a manifesto, and if ever a ballsy manifesto (nothing pretty, please! and no slick marketing!) was needed from a financial institution, one whose DNA is still gritty and radical even if tamed over the years, it’s needed now. Is a credit union something more than a kinder, gentler bank? I’m listening. And I hope about 99% of Canadian citizens are too.

Photo Credit: Net_efekt

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