Invest in Yourself through Others

I recently spoke with a colleague in the investment field. I thought that he said he was investing with God. That, I remarked to myself, could seem to some fairly presumptuous if not proven prescient, which I suppose I doubted at every level could ever come to pass.

Some weeks later, I was channel-surfing (yeah, I’m old school, we’re talking TV—and not even cable-programming let alone streaming video), when the phone rang and I abruptly stopped on some non-descript (or better off not-described) commercial, as we used to call them rightly. Now I suppose the term would be enter-tisement or adver-tainment—I don’t know or care.

When I returned, the regularly-scheduled programming was a show I’d received incessant internet promotions about, especially noteworthy given the lack of any demographic that could be pinned to me data-profiling-wise to justify it.

I since discovered that this new CBS’ God Friended Me debut episode was only slightly less popular than the Facebook phenomenon it was based upon. For lack of any reasonable explanation, save maybe my friend’s unabashed statement, I watched a bit…then some more…then the conclusion. I really don’t know why.

Maybe to be open-minded, which I pride myself on beyond just mouthing “tolerance” like so many.

Maybe as a nod to my friend-piqued curiosity.

At any rate, somewhat saccharinely-nice and less-uncivilized enough than most reality these days, it told the story of an ardent atheist millennial would-be viral podcaster seeking syndicated fame and fortune. After receiving a friend request from the “God” account repeatedly, he finally relented and accepted, mostly just to find out who was behind the cyber-stalking so as to expose the troll and attain his rightful throne in social media heaven.

He began receiving requests to help others who didn’t even yet know they were in need or danger. When these very same individuals started showing up in his path despite his ignoring “God”, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that something was weird, and sought to develop real friendships with those he encountered. He helped several, even saving a doctor’s life who in turn saved another’s when our hero proved inadequate. I won’t give away the ending, but it got me to thinking (it doesn’t take much with an author and a story, folks).

I got in touch with the investment guru and asked to review his book (after all, I am an avid reader, too), though I felt I might be sorely lacking in the scripture I understood it to be based upon. When he corrected me on my mistaken memory of the title, despite feeling a bit sheepish, I persisted anyway.

While I would not characterize myself as a believer necessarily, I am not one in rampant coincidences either. It turns out in the conversation, he asked about a book I had referred him to. He graciously offered to give of himself and his time to assist strangers and indicated an interest in still another we spoke about. That’s when I had my epiphany. You might say, Investing IN God would have made a better title.

Whatever the reason, you—as both my friends now can attest—would be well-financially and otherwise advised to read on. After all, investing in oneself by investing in others can’t be a bad idea, even for millennial atheist podcasters.

The Truth on Investing, by Joshua S. Hall

With this book, author Hall takes direct aim at the popular concept of the wisdom of crowds relating to investment success.

Building upon his own belief in God’s guiding hand in the marketplace, not simply the perennially quoted yet unproved “invisible hand,” Hall painstakingly ties many investing principles to familiar Bible parables and lessons in order to argue that morality matters in our financial dealings, too.

He challenges what he labels “man’s financial religion,” describing it as having “impotent traditions, errant dogma, ineffective intellectual mystiques, corruption, and so on, resulting in wholesale distractions that work against simple truth…yet the mass of people just accept it as the way it is.”

For those investors who are as devout Christians as Hall and looking for specific guidance, his book provides examples ranging from the rationale of pegging currencies to gold and silver to the risks of indebtedness of both individuals and governments. He also walks new investors through basic concepts and consequences of investing based on greed or fear, and instead recommends following the path of God, irrespective of mainstream opinion.

This book is clearly meant as an alternative source to Bloomberg or MSNBC talking heads, or the even more recent introduction of robo-advisors via a convenient smartphone app. With a 10-year career at well-respected investment firm J.P. Morgan, Hall knows better than most what happens behind-the-scenes on Wall Street, and how decisions are made by the ubiquitous fund managers we trust with our hard-earned retirement savings. He left the House of Morgan to establish his own investment advisory service, and is a chartered financial consultant.

Hall is well-grounded in many traditional and historical references used to justify a belief in randomness or luck determining an investor’s success or failure. His take: if no one has a better answer than that, shouldn’t we consider a different possibility—that of a greater intelligence or purpose guiding our investing decisions?

And he has a point.

Too often the words of wisdom bandied about to justify current-day policies and decisions are misstated. He shares the example that the full quote from the Bible is that “the love of money is the root of all evil”, emphasizing that money is simply a medium of exchange to trade goods. Yet man’s “covetous desire” for it causes nations to waste away morally and thus economically.

Hall also highlights a very basic premise of investment choices. People’s actions reflect how they invest in themselves, and whether they choose fair, just, and honest measures for their business, their employees, and their stated goals. Whether you have dollars to invest or simply your own time, choosing to surround yourselves with people of character and integrity ultimately will lead to your success on Earth and in the afterlife.

This latter is a key conundrum for many, including Hall himself, as God’s Word is to love all his children as we would ourselves, which in trying times can be difficult. For the current generation of millennials facing an uncertain future, Hall describes their actions as understandable but misguided: “They really are not rebelling but are following the herd that has rejected God.”

For those of us who have lived through countless booms, busts, and expert analysts proven wrong, perhaps Hall’s kind of religious fervor applied fairly and freely as God clearly intended and in Hall’s demonstrated kindness to me, does indeed have a place in prioritizing what exactly we are trying to accomplish with not only our money but our lives.

For some at least, that might include loving (and helping) others as we do ourselves. And that’s more than just a millennial meme one doesn’t have to be familiar with scripture to realize.

For more from Ann Bridges, visit her website: authorannbridges.wordpress.com

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