The Most Important Book About Money I’ve Ever Read – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition With Charles Eisenstein.

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I recently finished what I now consider to be one of the most important and transformative financial books I've ever read: Sacred Economics, Revised: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein.

The book traces the history of money—from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism—and the revised edition includes new material on cryptocurrencies and research findings that have emerged since the book's original publication.

In Sacred Economics, Charles shows how capitalism contributes to alienation, competition, and scarcity; destroys community; and necessitates endless growth at the cost of social and environmental devastation. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—and their collapse presents a golden opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.

Charles describes the deeper narratives beneath our economic system and how we can reimagine it to align with a new story. Applying a broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy, and practice, he explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local economies, gift economics, cryptocurrencies, and the restoration of the commons. Tapping into a rich lineage of conventional and unconventional economic thought, Charles Eisenstein presents a vision that is original yet commonsense, radical yet gentle, and increasingly relevant as the crises of our civilization deepen.

Charles is an American public speaker and author. His work covers a wide range of topics including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explored include anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture. His books include Sacred Economics, Climate: A New Story, The Ascent of Humanity, and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible, and my initial introduction to Charles and his writing was when I discovered his wonderful essay The Coronation, which you can read here.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What is “sacredness” and how humanity has strayed from it…08:27

-How a “gift economy” facilitated community in past ages…15:01

  • People shared the excess of the fruits of their labor; this resulted in other artisans sharing their goods and services with each other
  • Kinship, ritual determine who to give to, what, how much, etc.
  • Gift transactions always leave a “tie” between the giver and the receiver
  • Karma isn't just a spiritual principle; the most generous person is always the wealthiest
  • We don't have a culture of gifts, habits, and the resulting community
  • If one is stingy in a real community, they become ostracized
  • Charles has a gift system for his own speaking engagements

-How our own “inner compass” might dictate fairness and equity in a gift economy…23:48

  • People tend to rise to the level of the trust
  • The natural price of anything with zero marginal cost of production is zero
  • Bitclout
  • Make a way to make donations, and people will gladly reciprocate the service you provide for no upfront and arbitrary cost
  • Ben's Bitclout page
  • Gifting is done without expectation of any type of return; if it's not that, it's an expense or an investment

-Why did money come about in the first place?…33:11


  • It's necessary to operate a society with a high level of division of labor
  • Surplus means not everyone needs to be a farmer
  • Gift economics no longer works on a large scale in society
  • Money is a medium of exchange that everyone agrees has value
  • Things we currently source in money we can source in other ways such as gifts
  • Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graber
  • Exchange of money was a sign of a covenant or gift, but didn't always carry the intrinsic value we know today
  • Wedding dowries, blood money, etc. were symbols of the sanctity of human life

-How relationships deteriorate when money becomes the source of value, versus that which it once symbolized…38:22

  • Hoarding mindset
  • The more important money becomes as the source of happiness
  • Everything becomes a commodity

-Environmental implications of this loss of sacredness in the economy…40:43

  • When the value of an item is expressed in money, that's all it is
  • “Invaluable” items can't have a monetary value placed on them
  • Creatives miss their call when everything has a monetary value placed on it
  • The aim of profit stifles creativity—at least the creativity is needed the most
  • Living a life we're paid to live, not that we're meant to live
  • Fear of scarcity

-The problem with usury aka interest…47:12

  • Makers vs. the Takers by Jerry Bowyer
  • The one with money gets more money, creates inequality and scarcity
  • Promotes hoarding
  • Risk-free interest via government bailouts
  • Creates a consumption-based society

-How money is created by debt…51:15

  • There's always more debt than there is money when money is created by debt
  • Many debts are unpayable
  • Debt peonage
  • Student loan debts will never be paid off
  • Another financial bailout needs to be a debtor's bailout, not a creditor's bailout

-How to begin to shift to a more sacred economy…57:28

  • Make money so that like anything in nature it deteriorates
  • Gut instinct toward fairness, justice, compassion
  • Shift in morality, our perception toward others
  • Reclaim the commonwealth and the environment vs. accumulating money
  • Storing up treasure on earth would make sense if you were going to live forever
  • People go on accumulating money way beyond what's necessary for leisure and physical well-being
  • During these uncertain times, no investment is secure; not from the economy, not from illness, from sudden death
  • There are a lot of things that money cannot protect you from
  • Giving glory to God is to accepting and participating in the sacredness of his creation
  • Using money as an instrument of healing gives glory to God

-Why Charles' book may be one of the most important financial books you've ever read…1:05:11

-And much more!

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode: 

Charles Eisenstein:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Charles Eisenstein or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!


Ask Ben a Podcast Question


14 thoughts on “The Most Important Book About Money I’ve Ever Read – Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition With Charles Eisenstein.

  1. Alex Lowery says:

    Here is a step by step how to guide for BitClout:

    https://bitswap.network/blog/bitclout-guide

  2. Alex Lowery says:

    Ben,

    I’ve been manifesting like crazy lately. I’ve been pretty geeked about the blockchain and decentralization, especially since Cardano launched Smart Contracts this week What Charles Hoskinson and his team are doing is a game changer. I’ve been waiting for it for a few years. It sounds like a way to take the power back peacefully.

    Yesterday, I wrote myself a note to look into or ask about what are the capabilities and possibilities of moving podcasts, videos and social media to the blockchain. I was also wondering how this could benefit the health and wellness movement. Which is becoming so much more thanks to you and your fellow podcasters, writers, etc).

    Then boom! Today I heard this interview Charles Eisenstein about where we are heading with some of this very same ideas. When you mentioned Bit Clout, a decentralized social media on the blockchain, my ears and mind perked up. I just checked out yours, you’re worth more than some of the others on the price chart. You’re priceless! I like how you can post videos there too.

    Then I heard Kyle Kingsbury interviewing Justin Rezvani talking about Zion, a similar decentralized social media on the blockchain and all of the possibilities. They also mentioned hosting podcasts and videos on there as well. Despite all the craziness in the world right now, seeing great people doing great things and getting together to make the world a better and more free place really excites me!

    Bless you for this show! FYI: these shows were already loaded on my player, I wasn’t looking for them, I already listen to you. Thank you for tackling this subject and at the right time too.

    Do you upload your show to podcasterwallet.com? It is on the blockchain as well.

  3. Bryan says:

    Thanks Ben for bringing this to my attention. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I read the description and told myself I need to read this book. So I bought the book, and I’ll be back here for a discussion after. I just wanted say thank you, and my initial thought is that I feel like this is what I’m learning when I’m reading the New Testament out of my KJV 1611 Bible. Live in peace, charity, love, & forgiveness.

    1. Bryan says:

      BTW Ben. I know a while back you started training with Kettlebells. Have you tried Clubs or Maces? Have you checked out Mark Wildman YouTube Channel? I think he’d would be a great guest for your show. He recommends a Adex Adjustable Club. I’ve been using one for about a month now and I love it. I do 2 days a week KB’s, and 3 days a week Clubs with some form of cardio. Good stuff!

      Thanks Ben. Sorry it’s so long!

    2. You're welcome Bryan! May you also live in peace, charity, love, & forgiveness.

  4. Margaret says:

    Good idea for sure- a refreshing perspective. He has definitely not done his homework on research on Bitcoin. Decentralized money created for the people and by the people is the only true way we can regain our sovereignty.

  5. Kokeny Tibor says:

    Great content, reformist thoughts. Thanks for presenting the author of this book!

    1. You're welcome and thanks for the awesome feedback Kokeny, !

  6. Melisa says:

    Loved this. The way I envision a gift economy in today’s Modern world is that in stages it’s introduced, that each individual is able to contribute with their purpose, their strengths… into their local community. If we take the hotel example Ben was talking about.. imagine it be a block of apartments. There would be people that enjoy cleaning and do so for the block, there would be chefs that love cooking and do so for each other, there would be teachers, craftsmen and so on… everything being ‘paid for’ in service/value to one another. Something like this. I really like Charles point about sharing vs hoarding, it really is a culture shift that would be required for this change. The future of a more conscious world would entail a lot more community, unity, local gifting and gratitude, simply put, spiritual integration to physical lifestyle.. rather than pure consumerism/capitalism.

    1. Thanks for sharing this Melisa and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this episode :)

  7. Tom says:

    The gifting economy is alive and well with an exploding trend called https://buynothingproject.org/. There is a Facebook group in nearly every locale, where neighbors gift eachother items or services and build community. My wife is in love with this.

    1. Oh wow, thanks Tom, I'll check it out!

  8. Erin says:

    Ben + Charles together!! Epic.

    1. Appreciate the wonderful feedback Erin :)

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