Conversations About Money and Meaning

Each week, the radio announcer invited people to listen. “Are you seeking meaning beyond work and consumption?” she asked. “Does it sometimes seem that money rules the world and runs your life? Listen to ‘Faith and Money: Making the Connection,’ with host Mike Little.” And people listened—more than 2,000 people each month from DC to Oregon, from Brazil to Indonesia, tuned in to interviews with people sharing their spiritual, holistic perspective on life’s money issues.

Our relationship to money and material possessions helps to define who we are, what we value, how we live, and even what we believe. Yet we often go on auto-pilot, embedded in our money-obsessed culture, and go about life not connecting the material with the spiritual. That disconnect can leave us feeling trapped in our money choices and separates us from our dearest values and from the wider human community.  The radio programs were developed to remind us of the ways we already connect our money and our values and to explore new ways we can create those connections.

As made explicit in the name, the programs were designed for faith-based listeners, but most socially and environmentally responsive investors would resonate with the guests who probed the questions we face in our everyday lives.

  • We know our stress levels are related to our money choices, but can we escape the work-more-spend-more cycle?
  • Are our relationships distorted by money’s power dynamics?
  • How do we give and invest our money to make a difference in the world?

  • Can we cultivate and sustain a profound sense of “enough”? How do we make money decisions from our best instincts and deeply-held values rather than out of fear?
  • Is it possible to raise children with a sense of their place in a healthier economy than the one presented in our media-driven world?
  • In both obvious and subtle ways, how do our financial choices affect our ecosystem?
  • Does our relationship with money and the privilege of our wealth prevent us from a genuine solidarity with people around the world?

In short, how do we transform our relationship to money to be true to our full humanity in a world of great need and ecological crisis?

“I was surprised and touched at how open and honest the guests were with their struggles and joys around money,” said Little, the programs’ host and director of Faith and Money Network.

NI advisors Andy Loving and I have, for several years, served on the board of Faith and Money Network, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that equips people to explore and transform their relationship with money within the grounding of their faith and values.  I spent much of the winter collaborating with Little on the programs, shaping interview questions, writing each program introduction and closing, and more.

Andy and I were also program guests. On the segment entitled, “The Money We Don’t Give Away,” Andy and an NI client prompted people to think critically about where they bank and invest and to choose the options that put capital to constructive use in building a more just, sustainable world. I was interviewed for “Kids and Money: Mom, Can I Get That?” to stir a conversation around raising our children with values so different from the values they are bombarded with by our culture and economy.

Originally broadcast on web-streaming radio from January through March 2014, all 12 programs are now available as digital downloads or on CD through the Faith and Money Network (FMN) website, www.faithandmoneynetwork.org. They are a resource for people who want to take a next step in their own relationship with money. “The programs have a good balance of push and support,” Mike describes, “with a mix of philosophy, theology, and everyday living.” Action steps are included, as well, not as what people should do, but as ideas or prompts for what people can do to deepen the connections between their values and their money.

The programs have been good news to a number of listeners, like the one who responded that “Faith and Money Network’s radio show is so inspirational and practical that it will make you want to delve into your money concerns. Through the interviews with an amazing array of people, Mike leads us into an understanding of our money that begins with the numbers and moves on to the soul.”

Susan Taylor

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