Archive for the ‘ Economy of Grace ’ Category

The Economy of Grace

– Topher Endress

Being at a school like Purdue (or Vandy, in my case) allows us opportunities to see some of the big hitters of the corporate world.  We get the chance to rub elbows with recruiters for major worldwide companies, meet with alumni who have seen wild success and listen to the frontline of information concerning the economy – both from those in the working world and those studying it.  Of course, our schools are big enough to offer several alternative options of study in case rampant capitalism isn’t your ideal field.  And, as I will argue through this post, it shouldn’t be – at least in terms of Phi Tau.

Solidifying my position as a non-technical nerd, I’ve been spending my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings in an early morning ancient Greek class (it’s ok, I’m jealous of me, too).  Among the few things that I have learned from this class are two words, which we love to join together in English:

oikon nomy: home name. Rendered in English as “echo nomy,” or economy.

The original conception of economy was not one of dollars and cents.  Economy instead meant considering the needs of a household or family unit.  I believe that it is worth our time to consider how we view ourselves and our brothers in the economy of Phi Tau.

Is the economy of Phi Tau one of capitalism?  Do we look to our brothers and our organization for personal gain?  Is the economy of Phi Tau one of Kenynesianism, where the desires of our men are held in check by the pragmatism of our bylaws? How do we consider the value and usability of the fraternity?  After all, we affirm that each man has inherent worth, and I think we can safely assume that the abstract parts of Phi Kappa Tau (Ritual, creed, the membership in something larger than oneself, having 90,000 brothers, etc.) and the potentials of Phi Tau (networking, opportunities for leadership training, chance to work at SeriousFun, etc.) all have value.  So, the men, the abstracts and the potentials all must be categorized into a coherent system, or economy.

I will say that I think this can be done better by someone smarter than I.  However, I will do my best to create a system that works and is true to our chapter.

The Abstracts of Phi Tau are tools for teaching

There is much to be learned from studying most things.  However, our Creed, our Values, our Ritual and any other writings or Phi Tau knowledge is intentionally shaped to hold more weight than a cursory glance would indicate.  We have some dense documents and studying them in depth will prove fruitful.  We as initiated brothers have an obligation to foster deeper understandings of Phi Kappa Tau, and that comes in large part by participating in and studying what has been handed down to us.  The tools for learning how to lead, love, serve, learn and grow are all before you now.

The Value of Brothers should be considered above all in terms of grace

America is known for it’s insistence on free-market capitalism as the way to prosperity.  I’m not going to argue that case on a macro scale, but I will certainly make the claim that too much of our lives are dictated by this thought pattern.  Based on the Abstracts of Phi Kappa Tau, I believe that when it comes to our interactions with our brothers, we should not be shaped by the free market, capitalist, quid pro quo mentality. The value that each man brings is not a commodity to be bought, sold or controlled.  First, recognize that you are only in control of yourself.  Then, give of yourself with zero expectations.  You don’t need anything in return for sharing your gifts with your brothers, your house, your oikon.  Instead, work to ensure the livelihoods of each are taken care of.  Our market-based perception is easy and readily permeates everything.  It is safe to give with the expectation of receiving an equal amount in return.  Grace means giving without respect to being repaid.  Men of Character are not safe.  Go outside of the system and give everything to community, charity and brothers.  The Economy of Grace is radical and shocking. Be radical.
I really like this song – this small section can be encouraging and galvanizing.  Don’t let the nature of how others run things keep your from growing. This is a war against the norm!  What are you waiting for?  Why don’t you break the rules already?

The Potentials of Phi Tau are rewards only reaped after experiencing the Abstracts and Value of Brothers

I have heard several men try to recruit others (myself included) into fraternities.  Their main selling point is potential – large alumni/networking bases, leadership training, seminars, etc.  Sure, these are great things.  But by focusing on them without recognizing that our basis for having any Potentials is understanding our Abstracts and valuing our Brothers, they did a disservice to the men they ended up recruiting.  Not only is fraternity life not simply a club to join in order better one’s lot easily, the Potentials available are really only available to those who understand the Creed and live it out through an Economy of Grace.  Who can truly learn to lead without first serving?  And who can learn how to serve within Phi Tau without a knowledge of what Phi Tau stands for?  Serving, learning and growing are important, but each is far more edifying when you have reason to base your actions on.

I believe that if we re-categorize what we can gain from Phi Kappa Tau and place those benefits more or less linearly into this model, we will see that the Economy of Grace – built off of our Ritual, Creed and other Abstractions – will lead you to a better experience during your time as an undergraduate brother and will help the Potentials that can better you as a Man of Character materialize.