It’s a funny idea, net worth. (Who says Capitalism isn’t a religion?) We decide what people are worth by what corporate executives and small-minded economics determine what they will be paid. We seem to think entitled, essentially worthless, inheritors of ancestral money are of more value than the workers who actually fuel the economy. Economics is called the “dismal science” for more than one reason. This system can’t help but to make individuals question their self worth, which, according to Capitalism, is different from net worth. (Net requires taking the cost of goods into account, and is less than the list worth.) And you must never tell anyone your net worth. Why do we still hold to this system that future historians will see as just as archaic and cruel as feudalism?
Nashotah House could hardly have claimed to be competitive with salaries. Still, to those hired the title “professor” indicated you were a cut above many other professions. Certainly above most clergy, the future cohort of which you were teaching. Even so, it took a dozen years in publishing for me to reach the salary level at which I was asked to leave said seminary. Net worth? I tend to think of it as idol worship. Many well-meaning colleagues congratulate me on my LinkedIn work anniversary. None ask “How are you doing there?” None wonder “Have you yet caught up with your net income of 2005?” We’re all too busy bowing at the altar of the Stock Exchange.
People are worth far more than money. For some, money, and only money (which is a symbol only), is worth having. Some run for president on that very platform. Holding up a Bible they’re careful that it doesn’t fall open to the place where it says love of money is the root of evil. There is no such thing as evil in the religion of Capitalism. Except Communism. Interestingly enough, the New Testament advocates for a form of communism, but Acts is easily overlooked on the way to Leviticus. I tend to stop about half-way between, at that comfortably uncomfortable book of Ecclesiastes. It’s there that we read that all is vanity. Money is merely a symbol of what we value. Looking at what those who’ve devoted their lives to it have done with it, net worth sends me back to the cynical old preacher wondering about the meaning of it all. It seems an appropriate place for the musings of a mere editor aware that his colleagues are valued much more by this “Christian” society. I think the “net” in net worth should be cast much further.