The Genius of Money

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The Genius of Money: Essays and Interviews Reimagining the Financial World

“To understand money in the deepest sense is to journey inwardly to grapple with the ‘money self,’ to become more conscious economic participants in financial transactions with the world, and last but not least, to work to meet the material needs of others so that our economic needs are met through others’ work. This formulation describes a three-fold virtuous cycle, one that represents a radical transformation from our current world circumstance, which tends to revolve around and end with self-interest, unsupportable accumulation, and fear born of never-enough.” —John Bloom

Coming to terms with money is one of the great transformational challenges of our time. This collection of essays and interviews is an invitation and inquiry addressing that challenge on a systemic and personal level. The book presents an engaging worldview that emerges from the intersection of money and spirit. Practical, spiritual, and unwavering, it investigates the financial world as it plays out in daily life through our transactions.

The first section, called “The Poetics of Money,” is framed on historical and contemporary works of art that reveal some of the cultural history of money. From the Renaissance to Pop Art to the Conceptual, artists have recognized the iconic power of money. They have moralized through it, played on its replicability, and suggested some of its archetypal power. The author explores these modes to better understand how our own attitudes about money are formed—unconsciously and consciously—through our culture.

The second section, “The Topography of Transactions,” explores the inner landscape of financial transactions. By looking at the various qualities of money and how we work with them inwardly and in our relationships, the connections between money, human development, and consciousness emerges. Faith, hope, and love—powerful forces in our lives—are central to our financial well-being.

The third section, “A Wealth of Transformation,” consists of interviews with individuals who have transformed themselves as they transformed the world through social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, philosophical inquiry into money, investing, and spiritual practice. These exemplars represent the many who have recognized that the financial world needs to change if we are to have peace in the world.

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction: Money Being Transformed


1. Tribute Paid: At the Intersection of Spirit and Money
2. Coining a Myth: Titian—Danae and the Shower of Gold
3. Trumped Money: Value and the Eye of the Beholder
4. The Other Invisible Hand: Money and Its Subtle Influence on Social Life
5. Reforging Adam Smith: Beyond the Gates of Self-interest
6. An Inventory of Polarities: Quentin Metsys—The Money Lender and His Wife
7. Begging to Differ: Charity at the Threshold
8. Economic Chiaroscuro: Georges de La Tour—The Payment of Taxes
9. Money and the dance of Death: Hans Holbein the Younger—The Rich Man
10. Mercy in Mercantile Times: Gabriel Metsu—Usurer with Tearful Woman
11. Judas’s Dilemma, Giotto’s Rendition
12. Free Market Money in a Pop Iconomy
13. Money and the Modern Mind
14. The Touchstone and the Labyrinth: A Step into the Mystery of Money
15. The Transcendentalist and the Immigrant: Two Views of Money in America


1. Economics and the Presence of Philanthropy
2. A Window into Transparency: The Desire for Connection through Finance
3. Just Money and Social Finance
4. Consuming Identity
5. Real Virtuality: QQ Coins and the Quandary of Complementary Mercantilism
6. A Degenerative and Regenerative Economics of Philanthropy and Gift
7. Culture—for the Price of Admission
8. Toward a Topography of Financial Transactions
9. Faith, Hope, and Love: Elements of an Appreciative Economy


An Interview with Jacob Needleman
An Interview with An Anonymous Doner
An Interview with Charles Terry
An Interview with Krystyna Jurzykowski
An Interview with Paul Mackay
An Interview with Michael Spence
An Interview with Lynne Twist
An Interview with Betsy Taylor
An Interview with Wangari Maathai

Epilogue: Money Weighs and means

About the Author

John Bloom is Vice President, Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco (, where he has developed innovative philanthropic programs and contributed to the organization’s thought leadership in the field of social finance. As part of his work at RSF he has been developing and facilitating conversations and programs that address the intersection of money and spirit in personal and social transformation. He writes frequently for RSF’s Reimagine Money blog on aspects of the new economy, and has fostered collaborative dialogues on the topics of: Money, Race, and Class; Money and Intuition; and Money and Biography. He has worked with over 100 nonprofits over the last seven years in the areas of capacity building and culture change. John has founded two non-profits, served as a trustee on several, including Yggdrasil Land Foundation (, an agricultural land trust, and worked as the administrator at San Francisco Waldorf School for eight years before joining RSF in 1998. He was part of founding Live Power Community Farm, the first CSA west of the Mississippi (1988), and has been actively involved with helping to develop the CSA model and awareness of biodynamic agriculture across the US. He was appointed as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America in October 2016.

Additional information

Weight 18 oz
Dimensions 7 × 0.75 × 9 in




October 2009






Steiner Books


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