Sacred Economics… money, gift in a community in the age of transition

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Author Bio

I will give you some of my background, although the intense transitions of the last few years have left me feeling like a new person. I was born in 1967 and was a very sensitive, intellectual and dreamy child. I was always consumed by questions like, “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” so of course, embedded as I was in a culture that sees science and reason as the source of truth, I tried to “figure out” the answers. I graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but my development of reason and intellect brought me no closer to any truth I really cared about.

I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I knew that none of the usual options life presents a Yale graduate attracted me. I went to Taiwan, learned Chinese, and soon found myself working as a translator. I spent most of my 20s there, educating myself broadly in Eastern spiritual traditions. I also read voraciously: books on health, nutrition, globalization, physics, and biology. Translation led to other business opportunities, and I became familiar with this dimension of the human experience. In Taiwan, I met my dear friend and ex-wife Patsy, with whom I have three children, all boys.

In my late 20s I entered what was to be a long period of intensifying crisis. It started when all my professional work became intolerable. It became excruciating to do work I didn’t care about. Even though a million reasons told me why it was irresponsible, impractical, and foolish to quit, I eventually could not make myself do it anymore. An irrepressible feeling, “I am not here to be doing this!” took control of my life. So I entered a long period of searching. I spent time teaching yoga, learning about herbs, and teaching at Penn State’s department of Science, Technology, and Society. All of these endeavors have contributed to my present and future, but none were really me.

The next five years were much like a birthing process. The old world dissolved, and the contractions birthing me into the new took the form of a collapse of all that I once held onto. Crises in health, marriage, and money forced me to let go of a “life under control”. In my helplessness, I accepted help, discovering a generous universe that has always met my needs, somehow, in unexpected ways. I have never made much money, but I have become rich in connections to other people. Friends and strangers from all over the world write to tell me how my books have affected them; they sustain my faith and nourish my passion for my work.

In addition to writing books and essays, I have been doing more and more public speaking, both at conference and smaller events. This has been a welcome addition to my life. I find that my thinking stagnates and my heart atrophies when I am in front of my computer too much. I need to interact with real people, face to face. Until recently this need was met by a part-time position on the faculty of Goddard College. It was a beautiful job while it lasted: I really treasured my relationships with the students and my colleagues.

I am now remarried and still living in Harrisburg, PA with my three children, two of whom are now teenagers. My life seems to be entering a new phase as my work intensifies and my home life stabilizes. I used to answer every email and say yes to every offer to speak. Now I can’t always do that, although I still try to respond to everyone who contacts me, in part because I consider this to be an important part of my work, and certainly among the most enjoyable.

At this point, I have no specific plans for the future. The world seems to be in a state of such flux now, that I cannot make any plan but to ride the wave. I do intend to keep writing: essays and articles for the time being, and then other books. I will probably write another book soon on gift, and perhaps a short book on degrowth economics. My next major book will probably be about the world-creating power of story, and how, on a personal and collective level, we can exercise that power to participate in the building of a more beautiful world.

Read his book online