Friday, July 28, 2006

Christianity: A High Risk Investment

We undo our cufflinks and roll up our shirt sleeves and buy each other triple macchiatos. We speak in acronyms. We talk of ROIs and ROEs and ROCs and ROAs and EBITAs and EPSes. We inscribe complex paths for billion-dollar cashflows on the back of paper napkins. We exchange essential market gossip and discuss investment strategy. We broker deals and shake hands.

Business, even high-profile cross-border multi-gazillion-dollar business, seems a bit of a game; some Friday night entertainment over biscuits and hot tea. We laugh, we teasingly chide, we take risks for the fun of it and at the end of the night, we pack up, thank the host, help to wash up and go home to real life.

But back in real life, we have on our portfolio what appears to be a devastatingly high risk investment called Christianity. Contrary to prudent financial planning advice, we have invested everything we ever had in it: our whole life henceforth, all our decisions, our heart, our mind, our will, our money, our time, our hopes. These are assets we cannot afford to lose. And once spent thus, they are gone forever, never to be replenished or replaced. Also contrary to the rudimentary principle of portfolio diversification, we have put all our eggs in one basket, one God, one way of interpreting reality. Even worse, Christianity is a buy-and-hold-until-death investment. If we sell at any time, we lose all our investment immediately. Meanwhile, there is no visible asset appreciation and no palpable way of calculating returns.

So we live in the fear that one day, one terrible day, we might suddenly realise that we have been blinded by illusion and wishful thinking, that "we have lingered in the chambers of the sea/by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown" but "human voices wake us, and we drown". So we want to cut our losses as early as possible. We want to hedge our risk. We want to have a bird in hand than an infinite number in a bush. Why not have our little pleasures in the here-and-now? Why not limit our risks by reaping our little rewards (the praise of men or otherwise) immediately, rather than hold out for an unknown future?

But although Christianity seems to be high-risk now, it is also a sure-win investment. First, the returns are more than we can ever imagine, for "the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44-46).

This is important for non-investors as well because the kingdom of heaven is also "like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:47-50).

Not only are the promised returns out-of-this-world (literally), but we also know that the promisor has always displayed the type of covenantal faithfulness and graciousness that gives us reason to believe that he will always be true to his word. (See, like, the whole Bible. Most recently for ARPCians, 1 Samuel 9-10.)



At July 30, 2006 7:04 pm , Blogger Marcus said...

Hmm, i am not sure what other Christians will think of this but it is definitely an interesting angle to look at a religion, ie. from the investment point of view.

At July 31, 2006 10:48 pm , Anonymous ibanker said...

Heh. I laughed when I saw one of your deals in IFR. You think can win award or not????? Heh heh/...

At July 31, 2006 11:01 pm , Anonymous ibanker said...

Oh, my goodness!!!!!! So I’m sitting here typing my previous comment n I hear another deal of your’s on CNA!!!!!

Just like you to be soooo mysterious

At July 31, 2006 11:35 pm , Blogger paddychicken said...

Forgot to leave my trackback. Interesting!

At August 01, 2006 2:58 pm , Blogger shadow said...

Hey Marcus, yeah, I wouldn't push the metaphors too far but religion/a certainviewofreality is a sort of investment; an investment of our life. If we have the wrong view of reality, then we invest our time and life fruitlessly, to our eternal regret.

ibanker: Which one? The B deal? I did violently object to the poofy name but didn't have time to come up with a more macho alternative. Choy! Hope not! Although that would make our bankers ecstatic.

Is that what CNA said? Haha, yeah and the pipeline continues to be clogged... :-(

Paddychicken: Cheers!

At August 01, 2006 10:04 pm , Anonymous risk taker said...

i swear to God it's starting to feel like it's true. a mutual friend told me that he was in love with this girl in church. he was kind of in a low spot but he never made a move because he believed that marriage will only last for this life and he wanted to concentrate on serving God. i asked him if he was dead sure because it would be a freaking waste if it wasn't. it was kind of sad because now it is a relationship of what could have been.


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