Sunday, October 12, 2008

Economy of abundance

Normally, this would be nestled in a post with a collection of other notable morsels, but my life is so hectic these days, I thought I'd put it out there for all who are interested: If you're a fan of Paul Newman (or just good writing), the obituary in a recent issue of the Economist is not to be missed. It begins thus:
THE eyes were blue. Cornflower blue, steel blue, ice blue. They smouldered through the soft-focus foliage in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as he swayed on a bicycle with Katharine Ross on the handlebars. They stared beautifully in his middle-aged lawyer’s face as, in “The Verdict”, he was handed an enormous cheque which he refused to take. They were so blue that they registered even in black and white. As he stepped out of the ranch door in “Hud”, casually buttoning his shirt, or as he woke himself up in “The Hustler” for another frame with Minnesota Fats after 25 hours at the pool table, you could have sworn they glowed with the colour of some deep, distant sky.

Paul Newman himself thought little of them. . . .
Now, I don't normally read this magazine (in fact, it's my husband's subscription), but I happened to pass by it opened to that page, and I was instantly snared by Newman's baby blues staring up at me. And once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The writer of this one has a way of working his words to draw you in and gently pull you right along with him (or her--I couldn't find a by-line, go figure).

Along the way, the writer makes note of Newman's philanthropy--"the most generous individual, relative to his income, in the 20th-century history of the United States"--and, near the end of the tribute, talks of Newman's appreciation for the luck that permeated his career, including the role in his breakthrough film:
. . . . The film was called “Somebody Up There Likes Me”. Mr Newman agreed; all his life, somebody did, from the blue eyes onwards.

His urge to give something back grew out of that. . . .
I don't know the specifics of Newman's faith (it appears he had interest in Unitarianism) but I'm pretty sure he got at least one thing right: Newman, it could be said, operated out of an "economy of abundance."

Somewhere (for the life of me, I can't remember where--was it here?), I read about how the world around us operates according to an "economy of scarcity" (in which we make decisions and treat our possessions and live our lives according to the idea that there isn't enough of anything--from love to money--to go around) but the biblical worldview and God's kingdom operates according to an "economy of abundance" (not only is there enough, but there is more than enough to go around). The basics of this idea really resonated with me and my own experience of the kingdom; God's kingdom--overflowing with his goodness, life and right-ness--is abundant, and my experience of that changes the way I approach the people and world around me.

And this piece about Newman's life reminds me of all that, perhaps even puts an image to the concept. And that challenges me yet again to examine what economy I'm operating under and how I treat the stuff I've acquired and the people around me.

But even if you think I'm reading too much into it, the piece is still worth the read. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Lauren W said...

Those who follow the rule of "Economy of scarcity" need to go on a missions trip pronto. Miss you. A lot.