Money, Meet Meaning: Introducing a New Podcast

Tom Levinson Life with Money

Money, Meet Meaning

April 15, Tax Day: the culmination of our annual season of data-gathering, number-crunching, and spiritual reflection.

What’s that? You don’t use tax season as an opportunity for self-examination and renewal?

OK, fine – me neither.

Tax Season is a time-intensive, laborious grind, and you’re no doubt in good company if you offer a grunt of thanksgiving when it mercifully wraps up.

In many ways, taxes fall outside our sacred considerations.

And yet — our religious and spiritual traditions (they’re sometimes also called our “wisdom traditions”) locate in taxation a chance to reflect on the delicate, often precarious balance between ethical individual action, just leadership, and the redistribution of resources to meet ever-present social needs. For example:

  • Jesus and the Gospel narratives are intentional in discussing taxation, spotlighting individual values like integrity and generosity along with big-picture aims like an economically just society.
  • The primary form of wealth distribution mandated in Islam – indeed, one of the five pillars of the faith – is Zakat. Zakat isn’t synonymous with tax – but for Muslims meeting a baseline level of wealth, it’s obligatory and serves the same end of social welfare. Beyond that, it’s viewed as a kind of worship – a way to purify wealth by providing for those in need.
  • The same goes in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. Public services, priestly work, sanctuary construction, care for the poor: all were funded by broadly assessed taxes.

Of course, there is room for healthy, constructive debate about how much taxation is appropriate. Regardless of one’s opinion on that topic, our wisdom traditions generally agree that the process of preparing and paying taxes offers individuals a platform for ethical conduct. We can direct attention to the needs of the neediest in our midst, while supporting a stable and just social order. Indeed, given the very human temptations we all confront in the tax prep process – think coveting and cheating, to start – tax season may in fact be one of our most potent spiritual proving grounds.

• • •

How do we make our life with money more meaningful? Partly, through how we use it. And partly, through how we think and talk about it.

Today, the week of April 15, we launch our new podcast, Money, Meet Meaning. Each episode promises energizing conversation and insightful reflection – on topics like spending and budgeting, lending and giving, ancient teachings and new technology, not to mention child-rearing and consumerism and coveting.

Join us as we continue the conversation, together, on Money, Meet Meaning – available wherever you find your podcasts.