Category: Money

What TurboTax Teaches Us About Lent

There's something liturgically appropriate about the alignment of Lent and tax season. Both are solemn occasions for discipline and self-reflection, and both anticipate the promise of new life—well, at least for those expecting a refund. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that many in our congregations will likely spend as much time on the TurboTax website as they do in church during Holy Week. Like many…  [more]

Grace for the Rich and Powerful

The woman sitting next to me wore a lovely pink dress and had well-sculpted blond hair. She was quiet and unassuming, patiently waiting her turn to share in the group discussion. When she finally spoke, her voice was modulated. “Hello. I’m the Queen of Belgium.” It took a mighty effort for me not to look surprised. I had heard Belgium’s queen would be at the World Economic Forum (WEF),…  [more]

National Returns Day and the Consumer Liturgical Calendar

Any savvy consumer knows the shopper’s triduum of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the relatively recent addition of Green Monday. How many, though, have heard about National Returns Day? Last week, on Jan. 5, shoppers returned 1.3 million packages. That’s only the number forecasted by UPS. Other carriers like Federal Express and the United States Postal Service will add their own returns, creating a…  [more]

Donald Trump and the Trouble with Taxes

If taxes are in the news and it isn’t early April, then the story must have something to do with politics. The slow boil of controversy surrounding the tax returns of presidential candidate Donald Trump has now bubbled over into a hot mess of hubris, greed, and grasping for power. And while the odor of political and economic machinations may be enough to turn one’s stomach, there are legitimate and…  [more]

Is Apple Designing Your Future?

On the eve of Apple’s rollout of the iPhone 7, in which the earphone port has been replaced with wireless AirPods, a design firm unveiled a spoof product of its own: the Apple Plug, meant to cover the headphone jack on your old iPhone. The parody led Atlantic tech writer Ian Bogost to wonder whether Apple wants to forcibly dictate the future, or simply gently lead us there. Bogost’s verdict is mixed, but…  [more]

Mark Zuckerberg, the Rich Young Man

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced last week that they intend to “give 99% of our Facebook shares — currently about $45 billion — during our lives” toward a mission “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” The occasion for the announcement was the birth of the couple’s first child, a daughter named Max. While some have accused Zuckerberg and Chan of…  [more]

What if your feet aren’t ready for their Toms close-up?

Last week marked the ninth birthday for Toms shoes. Since 2006, Blake Mycoskie’s “One for One” company has, for every first-world purchase of its shoes, given a pair to someone overseas in need. Now the company sells coffee for clean water, sunglasses for eye-care, tote bags for maternity kits. Given how much they talk about gift-giving, it’s no surprise Toms also has a One Day Without Shoes…  [more]

Wealth in light of the Apple Watch

The announcement this month of the Apple Watch raises a number of perplexing challenges for Christians. A dominant theme of much commentary has had to do with the top-tier Apple Watch Edition, with options ranging from $10,000 to $17,000. These models feature rare crystal screens and precious metal cases. Apple products have never been cheap, but this new level of luxury represents the company’s recognition of…  [more]

The ascetic appeal of tiny living

We Americans love our stuff. No doubt about it. Consumerism is as American as supersize fries. Any excess naturally brings counter movements toward the opposite extreme. One recent response to wanton consumerism is “tiny living,” a philosophy that emphasizes environmental awareness, adventurousness, self-sufficiency, simplicity, fiscal soundness and - its most visible outward sign of the lifestyle - tiny…  [more]

Is buying an experience the way to buy happiness?

It turns out money can make you happy - if you spend it on the right things. Recent consumer research has shown that people feel happier spending their money on experiences rather than on material objects. This intuitively makes sense. If I think back on my most memorable purchases this past summer, they’re all highly relational: holding my wife’s hand in Paris for eight days; attending an Arcade Fire…  [more]

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