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Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition
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Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  484 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more c ...more
ebook, v3.1, 496 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by EVOLVER EDITIONS (first published January 2011)
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Bill O'driscoll
Terrific, even visionary argument that the way we think about economics, and specifically about money, is fundamentally flawed, thus inevitably leading us to bad decisions, bad living and an increasingly damaged planet. Eisenstein traces much of the problem to interest, and the dilemma that "wealth" -- that is, money, the only kind of wealth we recognize -- can "grow" even while it is idle, yet our true wealth that resides in the land, air and water is finite. This all leads us to an artificial ...more
Elmaneca Cabrera
I hope with great earnest that this vision becomes reality.
Liz
Einsenstein presents new ideas about possible economic futures -- new to me anyway. The move away from the money economy itself isn't new. Nor is the idea to create a new money system -- most students of history could tell you this and then recite a list of examples as long as my arm (and written in tiny handwriting).

I give this two stars because while the book itself is easy to read and understand, it doesn't delve into practical realities -- we will still have jobs people don't want to do and
...more
Lisa
I absolutely love this piece: while the end result is highly idealistic, the ideas and approach within are nevertheless applicable on a local scale today and should be strived towards. Eisenstein is remarkable in his approach to the topic of economics and optimistic in his view of what we could become as a people. By stripping back all of history to come to a general understanding about the generative nature of economics and then rebuilding it in a way that exemplifies the possibilities and nec ...more
Miles
Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics is a radical book penned with a lot of passion and the best of intentions. This treatise on alternative economics serves up some very worthy ideas that are compromised by a handful of the author’s less rigorous tendencies and intellectually insupportable positions. As a whole, the book had a decidedly divisive effect on my psyche.

Even for someone reticent to call anything “sacred,” there is a lot to love about Sacred Economics. Eisenstein is one of many earl
...more
David
I was first introduced to the work of Charles Eisenstein through the website Reality Sandwich, brainchild of Daniel Pinchbeck. In fact, I think the passage I read was an excerpt from this book! The entirety of Sacred Economics is hosted in bits and pieces on Reality Sandwich, so if this piques your interest you can check it out at no charge. Following that introduction, I read Eisenstein's book "The Yoga of Eating" which I really enjoyed, and helped me make the decision to read Sacred Economics. ...more
Nick Stibbs
Eisenstein is a contemporary philosopher, who has penned several tomes - after The Yoga of Eating and The Ascent of Humanity, this is his latest book, addressing economic issues. He upholds a spiritual perspective, albeit one which locates spirituality in the heart of matter, expressed through our lives, bodies and relationships on and with the earth. Seeing the body as an expression of soul and not in a dualistic opposition, he continues a tradition going back through Blake, the Hebrew traditio ...more
Chris
In the opposite of Mr. Eisenstein's writing style, I will keep this succinct. Largely a Buddhist vision of money and exchange, Sacred Economics does offer some interesting and hugely important insights into the possible future of the global economic system. An important read for the chapters on negative interest and the backing of money with the things we wish to preserve.
Eileen
Charles and I wrote our books concurrently, without awareness that we were both exploring the same concepts. What a pleasure it was to discover a kindred spirit, and to consciously work with Charles to "build a field" of awareness around these ideas. Beautiful book; beautiful man. I highly recommend this one!
Bakari
I’m halfway through Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition, and I couldn’t wait to share a little of what it’s about. This is one of the few books I think should be required reading for every college student. Given the economic crisis we have been facing for well over two centuries, it is highly important that we stop, yes stop, and really think about the origins, purpose, and impact of the monetary system on our lives, and indeed the plant.

This
...more
Leland Beaumont
Author Charles Eisenstein begins this bold and well written book examining why innovation, labor saving devices, and all of the earth's bounty fail to deliver prosperity to most of the people. “After centuries of technological advances, why do we find ourselves working just as much as ever?” he asks, before observing: “For centuries, futurists have predicted an imminent age of leisure. Why has it never happened? The reason is that, at every opportunity, we have chosen to produce more rather than ...more
Jason
Sep 09, 2014 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!
Recommended to Jason by: Sarah Linneken
Brilliant!! This book explores the history of money and gifts in society. It underscores how money is devouring the Commons (which used to be free for everyone) and how our system of usury is perpetuating infinite debt which will result in the complete destruction of the Commons, unless we change. Capitalism is a system based on infinite growth in a finite system--this means our current economic system is UNSUSTAINABLE!! Read this book to learn about other possibilities, you won't be sorry and I ...more
Shuhui
It is a beautiful book about transforming the basis of our economic system from self-interest to giving. It's very philosophical and poetic, yet at the same time it is clear that the author has done research about economics and the history of money.
However, at times he strikes me as a romantic. He talks about how hunter-gatherers enjoy marvelous health, compared with our own health. He seems to forget that today we are able to live long enough to have diseases like Parkinson’s or cancer, wherea
...more
William Crosby
From the start, the author tries to embody his philosophy of the gift economy by making this book available as a gift via a Creative Commons copyright.

And, in doing so, he is showing that this is one of many examples in the book of how our economy and culture is already changing to what he considers to be his more ideal economic system.

Essentially this is a discussion of money and gifting and the sacred and profane. He starts with what he perceives as the problems with our current system and goe
...more
Oliver
If you're like me, you entered the "real world" and looked around baffled. Why do we all live this way? Working jobs we don't like, to buy crap we don't need... You feel disconnected from your neighbors, from your health, from nature, or from yourself even. Your youthful passions and love for life have been stiffled by the need to get a job, to pay your student loans, to save for later, to buy a house, but in your heart, you don't trust that story. Another world must be possible. It's from that ...more
Cyndie
Mar 26, 2014 Cyndie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cyndie by: Stevo Johnson
Shelves: own, non-fiction
At its core a hopeful, albeit slightly idealistic book. Dense, but filled with important insights our people and our planet need.

My heart ached several times when the author was discussing the importance of gifts and how our current economic system has stripped our exchange of resources of their important relationship building potential. When we can buy anything we need, find all our information online, what happens to the bonds that are created by asking others for something we need that they
...more
Emily Mellow
Well... I WANTED to like this book. I tried reading it online and couldn't get into it. I was inspired by a book group to try again, so I got it from the library and still, it is just not written in a way that works for me. Sad, because I love his ideas and have really enjoyed watching his videos.
Harlan
Charles is publishing it serially at the webmagazine Reality Sandwich, you can read it as it comes out weekly or so here: http://www.realitysandwich.com/homepa...

So far, it's beautiful. I can't imagine it getting less so as it goes on.
Steve Malins
Jan 09, 2014 Steve Malins is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claudia Hays
although too big picture, optimistic about his particular theory, and a bit slow in the beginning - I do agree with considerable portions of his outlook on sharing/gifting styles of economy.
Melissa
This book is loaded. It is not often that I read a book for free from the library, then order my own copy before I have even finished it. This book is loaded with many ideas to ponder and food for thought with regard to the future of money, commerce, society, the planet, and human interactions. Warning: it may also possess some inconvenient truths that will unsettle long-held beliefs, such as "It's better to give than to receive"...well, as it turns out, not necessarily...

This book covers an arr
...more
Andrew Long
A towering, shattering, monumental work of scholarly synthesis. A deeply peaceful work of contemplation. Impractical and brilliant. Obvious.
Mark Findlater
There is no question Eisenstein is smart but his writing is immature and his eulogy is aimed hard at the converted and by definition they need no conversion.

The history of money was fascinating, the economics simple, the ideas beautiful, the potential infinite, Eisenstein's dreams fantastical and the research, proof points and hard science, lacking.

It would be easy to dismiss the ideas as impossible, but if there is one great takeaway it is that through a little introspection you will realise ho
...more
Theresa
I found some of the principles set forth to be appealing but was disappointed at the lack of research provided to support broad claims.
Kiril B
"Sometimes it is necessary to live a lie to its fullest before we are ready to take the next step into the truth." The Earth's resources are being depleted faster than ever, the majority of people are enslaved to servicing their debt for a lifetime, small local businesses struggle competing with big international corporations. Community spirit is nearly dead, society has shifted from a state of mutual trust and aid into a state of permanent competition and 'survival for the fittest'. We are more ...more
Jon
Truly amazing book, a beautiful work of art really.

Eisenstein skillfully creates a rich in-depth and comprehensive perspective on the deeper under-current which never gets talked about in the most mainstream circles.

He illuminates the foundational beliefs and "story of separation" which allows us to create an economy where the most dangerous sociopaths are rewarded for destroying natural resources by monetizing natural and social capital.

He outlines how we can change our "story" and allow mon
...more
Julita Vassileva
Excellent philosophical book that changed my view of the world.
Daniel
Excellent. Finally, an author who is "de-SantaClausing" the economy.

"If the system breaks down to the point of hyperinflation, then the institution of property—as much a social convention as money is—will break down too. In times of social turmoil, I can’t imagine anything more dangerous than possessing a few hundred ounces of gold. Really the only security is to be found in community: the gratitude, connections, and support of the people around you. If you have wealth now, I recommend, as your
...more
Jenny Zhou
Jun 22, 2014 Jenny Zhou marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
I'm only 20% in but I have to say this book is paradigm-shifting. I love it. The last time I loved a book so much was Thinking In Systems, a book that I've reread over and over because the ideas ring universally true and shape the way I think.

The author here is idealistic and imaginative but grounds that with thoughtfulness and specific examples/research. A typical anti-capitalism book is received in this way...A) The dreamers of a peaceful loving world tend to love these topics regardless of h
...more
Elizabeth
Mar 26, 2012 Elizabeth is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
from the library.... a lot of pressure on this book



Table of Contents

Introduction xi
PART I THE ECONOMICS OF SEPARATION
1 (156)
Chapter 1 The Gift World
3 (16)
Chapter 2 The Illusion of Scarcity
19 (14)
Chapter 3 Money and the Mind
33 (16)
Chapter 4 The Trouble with Property
49 (20)
Chapter 5 The Corpse of the Commons
69 (24)
Cultural and Spiritual Capital
70 (5)
The Strip-Mining of Community
75 (4)
The Creation of Needs
79 (9)
The Money Power
88 (5)
Chapter 6 The Economics
...more
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Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. His writings on the web magazine Reality Sandwich have generated a vast online following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts. Writing in Ode magazine's "25 Intelligent Optimists" issue, Da ...more
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“When everything is subject to money, then the scarcity of money makes everything scarce, including the basis of human life and happiness. Such is the life of the slave—one whose actions are compelled by threat to survival. Perhaps the deepest indication of our slavery is the monetization of time.” 18 likes
“When we must pay the true price for the depletion of nature’s gifts, materials will become more precious to us, and economic logic will reinforce, and not contradict, our heart’s desire to treat the world with reverence and, when we receive nature’s gifts, to use them well.” 13 likes
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