Here comes that man again, running up to Jesus with a question about eternal life. We can hear those dreaded words on Jesus’ lips even before the man approaches: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Even before Mark tells us so, we know that the rich young man will turn away grieving, for he has many possessions.
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Richard Posner mocks the British father-son pair Robert and Edward Skidelsky for wondering about the balance between work and leisure in contemporary society.
In his influential Theory of Justice John Rawls speaks of a "difference principle," a way of legitimizing social differences. He imagines people in "an original position" in which they do not know their ultimate social positions.
This week, a former Google
executive asked President Obama to raise his taxes so that more people will
have the chance to succeed as he has. It was nice to hear the president defend
the idea that individual wealth is built in part by collective investment--even if he didn't state it as forcefully as Elizabeth Warren, and even if he mostly
avoided the word "taxes" itself.
United for a Fair Economy was started 15 years ago in response to the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S. Mike Lapham joined the organization in 1997 to head its Responsible Wealth program, which mobilizes the voices of people who want to use their money to create a better society—through their own tax money.
The Christian faith is never lived, taught or preached in a vacuum. There is always an alternative to it: another philosophy, another religion, another ideal. “I see that you have many gods,” Paul noted when he looked around first-century Athens, and indeed the Greeks had a god for everything: for wealth, beauty, fertility, immortality, warfare and more.
When I was nine years old I dreamed of being Bobby Feller. I forget about that dream for long stretches, but then something comes back to remind me of it. Recently that something was Tyler Kepner’s profile of Feller in the March 7 New York Times. I learned that at age 88 Feller still suits up every day, and that he is often called a hero because of his World War II service. He responds to this term by saying, "Heroes don’t come home; survivors come home." What good did that baseball dream do? For one thing, it's a bracing alternative to the dream talk that afflicts us now.
Luxury, the dictionary tells us, is “the use and enjoyment of the best and most costly things that offer the most physical comfort and satisfaction.” In a special advertising section on luxury autos, the New York Times (June 21) updates us on the concept: