There Am I Among Them - Greed - WNCT

There Am I Among Them - Greed

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There I Am Among Them, A WNCT Roundtable on Faith is a special 6 part series that takes a look at the hot topics of the day, viewed through the lens of faith.

A panel of 6 faith leaders from different sides on the religious spectrum shared their opinions and insight.

On this night before Thanksgiving, 9 On Your Side is talking about a couple of issues appropriate for the day.

Just Tuesday, Pope Francis made headlines with a stinging commentary on capitalism and trickle-down economics. He pointed out, success is based on the assumption those in charge of our economy are good and honest.

And seeing what we've seen in the news, we know a large number of them are not.

How does our desire for money affect our lives?

We see money pouring through our country, but little of it makes it our way. What happens when faith and money collide?

“We have stock market collapse, Ponzi schemes, we have people at home who can barely feed themselves. Yet we see corporate America raking in the dough. I mean, from a faith perspective,
let’s just throw it out there, greed,” announced host Jeff Varner.

“Well, it’s universal. It’s not just corporations. I think it’s all of us. And that’s one of the biggest struggles of our lives,” reckoned Pastor Jason McKnight.

 “How do you mean,” asked Varner.

“It seems like the less successful you are at fighting off that greed, you tend to take advantage of folks, put yourself in a position where you have more money and power, and are able to do it even more than you have in the past,” explained Rev. Mark Sandlin.

“I would think in the Capitalistic system, you know, it takes money to make money and it totally separates the people who are involved in it, especially the laborers and when we take the human personality out of it, greed takes on a life of its own,” Father Bill Quigley reasoned.

“Would you consider that to be evil?  I mean, to want more and more and more,” questioned Varner.

“And I think we make a distinction between wealth and greed because just someone who’s wealthy doesn’t mean they’re evil or they’re greedy. They just might have had great success in business and so forth. Greed is when you always want more, and then, I think that is an evil, at that point it moves into being very evil, and it at least puts you at a place where you not able to be in full relationship with God,” confided McKnight.  

“So it’s this thing that builds on itself.  I mean money is the root of all sorts of evil, right,” asked Sandlin.

“Well, the love of money is. Yeah, that’s exactly it,” McKnight replied.

“Greed is in the, uh, nature of the humans. So Islam, it teaches now how you can curb that. It discourages the accumulation and the concentration of the wealth, whether it’s individual or corporation. And also the richness is not really based on the money.  The richness is when you have the contentment in your heart and that never happens, because the millionaire, the billionaire, the multi-billionaire is still trying to think of how to make (more) more,” explained Dr. Saeed Dar.

“And not just the millionaire, the thousandaire,” joked McKnight.

“You’re right,” chuckled Dar.

“We can’t put the full responsibility on big mean corporations that lay people off, because when I go on credit and buy a big screen TV and a brand new car, but I don’t have the money to pay for that, I’m not making a good choice.  Now, I’ve got the freedom to make the choice, but I’m not doing it well,” McKnight suggested.

“I say, yeah, we actually do need to blame the big corporations who employ people, who are choosing to have CEO’s make more and more and more money, but letting their everyday employees be stuck with what you were stuck with 10 years ago,” said Sandlin.

“And the question is how do you get at that? Do we do it for regulation or do we do it from the heart and it’s a hard thing to know and it’s probably both,” McKnight asserted.

“Corporations putting money into politics, is democracy in danger because of greed,” asked Varner.

“Here a person like me who doesn’t have financial means, but still may be an ideal person, servant of the public, cannot really be a part of that. And the reason is because you have to have money. You have to have support of the special interest, support of this group, support of this group to give you money, money, money,” explained Dar.

“Democracy is at risk when we don’t have a thinking public, when we have a public who’s not willing to consider all the angles on things and is not willing to stand up and demonstrate or to stand up and be part of whatever needs to be, because that’s where you can have democracy, when people are engaged thoughtfully,” commented McKnight.

 “What do we do in our homes,” Varner inquired.

“To combat it a little is a very basic custom in Judaism called “Sedaca,” but it’s a mandatory giving.  It’s not just charity. As wonderful and important as charity is, charity is voluntary. If I want to give, okay, I’ll give, but the Sedaca is mandatory,” explained Lay Leader Marsha Luhrs

“We should have a charitable aspect of what we’re doing. Giving is a part of it. The more we can do that, the more we can be able to help more people. We have gotten away from why were really doing this, we’re helping to meet the need of mankind we’re trying to better the society that we live in,” assured Pastor James Corbett.
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