When I volunteered to read and review Heather King’s Loaded: Money and the Spirituality of Enough, I did not quite know what the book would be about. Money, obviously. And perhaps something about a Catholic approach to living simply, the beatitudes, or Jesus’ teachings on not worrying about shoring up material possessions.
And yes, all these things were mentioned in the book. However, King’s work is about so much more than that. It is about our relationship with money and how, for many people, that relationship can be somewhat to severely unhealthy and even debilitating. King explores her own rocky relationship with money throughout the book, sharing stories from her life as well as those of others, and experiences of severe underearning, unrealistic expectations and an unhealthy fixation with income. At the start of the book, she describes herself and her situation this way:
My bottom came in the acknowledgement that the way I lived invited me to be “brave” in some ways that were foolhardy, and in other ways not to be brave at all. My primary goal had become not to give all of my gifts but rather to conserve all of my money” (23).
King walks through her steps to recovery in a straightforward, sit-you-down-and-stare-you-in-the-eyes kind of way. You can feel her talking to you, even if you don’t share her same exact struggles. At the end of each section she offers actions and tools to help you work through that portion of the book and the recovery process.
My biggest takeaway by far doesn’t necessarily have to do with money, though that is one of the overarching themes. Rather, I was moved by King’s honesty regarding how we can hoard our gifts the same way we can hoard money, sweaters or collectables. We all have been put in this world with something(s) to give. King observes: “I might not have owed anyone a penny. But I was taking more out of the world than I was putting in. That’s a form of debt: not only to others, but to ourselves” (27).
Loaded is about far more than money, though many lessons can and should be gleaned from it regarding a healthy relationship with both earning and spending money. Loaded is a passionate text which implores the reader to look deeply into their life to discover their inherent self-worth, their capacity for generosity and their God-given dignity as a human person.