BEING, DOING, HAVING
THE STRANGE AND BEGUILING COMPLEXITIES
OF MONEY BY ROD WILSON
Even though it was written in 1913 by Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, this is an incred- ibly accurate summary of the way
Canadian churches approach money.
While we will mention dollars and
cents when there is a building campaign
or special offering, years can go by before
a sermon will be preached, a Bible study
led or a Sunday class convened around the
dark and light sides of money.
These days in Canadian churches there
is a lot of talk about sexual matters, and
in the process money and its attendant
strengths and weaknesses get sidestepped
and receive little attention. And power,
the insidious dynamic undergirding all
struggles with money and sex, is rarely
dissected, unearthed and exposed.
An extra challenge for Christ
Christians are struggling with the extra
challenge of relating money to our commitment to God and the way He works in the
world. What’s money to those who want to
bring the perspective of the heavenly to
every aspect of our life now on earth?
Christians are not only concerned
about whether we have or do not have
money. We are more concerned with who
we are, who God is and what that might
have to do with money.
One way we might get to the heart of
issues around money would be to understand the distinction between being, doing
• Being is about identity and essence, and
is a response to the question, Who am I?
• Doing is about behaviour and performance, and is a response to the question,
What do I do?
• Having is about acquisition and consumption, and is a response to the
question, What do I have?
Let’s talk grammar for a moment – sub-
ject, verb and object. When I talk about
In the counselling office the husband
and wife fight about money, not because
they have or do not have it, but because it
becomes a symbol of their inability to
communicate. The retired couple sitting
with their financial advisor both nod at all
the right places, but if the truth were
known, they might not fully understand
the economic strategy being advocated.
For many of us, reading an online news
report about disintermediation risk, hedge
funds, bond yields, subprime loans, preda-
tory lending and what Greece’s economy
has to do with the rest of us is a lot like
trying to read Greek.
“Money questions will be treated by cultured people
in the same manner as sexual matters, with the
same inconsistency, prudishness, and hypocrisy”
– SIGMUND FREUD, “ON BEGINNING THE TREATMENT” (1913)