I am thinking a lot about the place of generosity and the gift economy. I was checking out the writings of Marcel Mauss (1925) this morning, alongside passages of the bible that speak of gift-giving, and i found a community of thinkers in France called MAUSS (after Marcel Mauss). All of them are helping to rethink the current economic philosophy. A Mauss quote from “Give It Away“
“Work could be co-operatized, effective social security guaranteed and, gradually, a new ethos created whereby the only possible excuse for accumulating wealth was the ability to give it all away. The result: a society whose highest values would be “the joy of giving in public, the delight in generous artistic expenditure, the pleasure of hospitality in the public or private feast.”
The writer of that article argues that Americans only want to read French pop-philosophers and they can only be found in the 70’s and 80’s. French thinkers in the past 15 years have been deconstructing selfishness and greed, and Americans don’t want to deal with that. Interesting argument.
Jesus has much to say on generousity and gift giving:
“To everyone that has, more will be given” (Mt 25). Why do they have in the first place? Because they are generous.This is the way Google rates websites and gives favor. Those that give gifts attract hits, and a trail of hits increases google rating, which attracts more hits from other sources, and the website that has most is the same site that is giving most, and it gets even more. So Jesus teachings about giving are very appropriate for understanding the web. The internet was started as a way to give gifts, and gift-giving seems to work on the web. Those that try to violate it through greed suffer in the long run.
This is also how one downloads DivX movie files through the bit-torrent system. The one who is giving (allowing uploads of stored data) is the one who can download data the fastest. Try to stop others from uploading (taking from what you already have) and you will slow down your own download. The givers receive more.
– The hacker ethic is also based on gift, with reputation replacing renumeration. “A good name is better than riches” is says somewhere in Proverbs.
– Orkney, where we are now based, has been a gift-economy in the past, and still functions this way beneath the surface. We were given a piano this week. And we gave a gift back. People here give gifts, all the time. Its the way things function.
Keith Green would agree- the guy GAVE AWAY his records to those who could not afford them. We started the day with Keith Greens records playing on my old Hitachi record player. The favourite song for my kids is “Run to the End of the Highway”. I dont know why they like that one. but the lyrics are written on the album cover and my kids can sing along. I really need to create some Keith Green Kareoke – with video and cheesy words scrolling horizontally, even if only our family will enjoy it. But in the meantime, we will do Keith Green singalongs.
– It snowed 2 days ago. Christmas is coming and we are playing Christmas carols. Christmas is where the church comes out of the closet to remind the world about how close gift-giving is to the heart of the Father. Hope you have a great day!