Should your investment portfolio as a follower of Jesus look any different from everyone else’s? Do our Biblical values have implications for our 401K? Robin John and Finny Kuruvilla founded Eventide Investments because they believe the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” They join Curtis to explore how we as Christians can pursue a kind of financial investing that “makes the world rejoice.”

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity. 

CURTIS CHANG: I chose to invest in Eventide because I was so intrigued by the tagline, “Investing That Makes the World Rejoice.” So Finny, let me start with you. What does that tagline mean? Why did you guys choose it?

FINNY KURUVILLA: Yeah, it comes from a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.” When God’s people prosper financially, that’s supposed to overflow to bless the communities, the cities, the countries they live in. So we decided to use that verse and adapt it to investing and say that a person should invest their overflow of resources into something that blesses their own city. 

ROBIN JOHN: Yeah, I think our purpose statement sums things up pretty well. Eventide strives to honor God and serve its clients by investing in companies that create compelling value for the global common good. We’re seeking to pursue  what we call values-based investing rooted in a biblical worldview, investing in companies that promote human flourishing and the global common good. And ultimately we do that through a framework that we call, Avoid, Embrace, Engage. We want to avoid investing in what Proverbs 1 will call ill-gotten gain or plunder. And we want to pursue investing in companies that are loving their neighbors, their stakeholders, including customers and employees. And we also want to engage with these companies to serve the needs of the world even better.

CURTIS CHANG: I love it. Finny, how is all this different from the standard world practice?

FINNY KURUVILLA: Yeah, so let me begin to answer that question first by laying out some groundwork here. Every person is expressing something when they invest. You’re expressing something about what you want – not just what you expect – to happen in the market. There’s a marketplace of ideas happening in the marketplace of business. And the way you spend your money is a statement of your values. 

A lot of people will say, “Just buy the whole market and don’t worry about trying to filter which companies you choose.” And there’s a particular value set in that. There’s another set of values that thinks more carefully about the impact. And so how do people who steward capital shape the world around us? And this is very important historically in the Christian faith, thinking about how we, as stewards of capital, can influence the world around us for good or for bad. We’ve heard the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Well, the dollar is even mightier than the pen. There’s something about money that is very, very formative to the world that we live in. And I think that’s pretty widely recognized.

And we would say that the values you express while investing should be the same values you express on Sunday when you’re in church, in your small groups, or in your families. There ought to be a coherence of your value set.

There’s a second dimension to understanding what happens when we invest: businesses also shape us. I would make the case that businesses are some of the most powerfully formative institutions in our discipleship. Think about the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, the shows you watch, the cars you drive, what you think is funny, what you think is not funny. Almost all of that is shaped significantly by the businesses that you are patronizing. So we can multiply examples here, but it is a huge element of what forms the church and what forms any given disciple. 

The church has had this blind spot for a long time. We need to think more deeply about the role of corporations in forming our sensibilities and beliefs about everything from God’s character, to sexuality, to how to relate to refugees… you name it. They’re tremendously shaped by these institutions. And so we as investors have the ability to shape companies. So there’s all kinds of voting mechanisms and shareholder resolutions. There’s a lot of different mechanisms that are built into the market by which an investor ought to be shaping what he or she owns. And so this is an underutilized source of leverage in the world today. 

CURTIS CHANG: Yeah. That sounds wonderful. It also sounds a little abstract, Finny. So, Robin, flesh this out. How does Eventide do this? How does Eventide actually create a different value set that Christians are expressing and also being formed by? What are you guys investing in that reflects a set of Christian values in this exchange of formation?

ROBIN JOHN: Yeah, so for us, the first step was understanding what Christian values are. So Finny and I spent, along with a few others, six months prior to starting Eventide fasting and praying. We would do that once a week for six months, and we would meet in Finny’s house and pray together. Romans 12 talks about not conforming to the patterns of the world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. So we asked ourselves what of the world’s stories we have bought into. And we decided it was the story the world tells us about business and investing.

Even in Genesis 1, God is a creator who calls good what he creates. Then the Bible says, “God created us in his image, in his likeness.” It basically says that we could have dominion, right? We also know that the greatest commandment is, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” So what does all that mean? 

Well, I mentioned the Avoid, Embrace, Engage framework. We want to avoid things that plunder and harm the world, things like abortion, pornography, tobacco, weaponry, violent video gaming, environmental harm, gambling. There’s a whole list of things we avoid investing in. And then we had to determine what promotes human flourishing. Ultimately, we want to find the best examples in a given industry of value creation, as opposed to value extraction. 

For example, we invest in a trucking company that really focuses on having their drivers sleep in their own beds every night. That’s an example of how that company is seeking to create value by loving their employees. They also do a wonderful job with their customers – on-time delivery rates and things like that. So they’re serving both their customers and their employees well. So we look for companies like that within a given industry. So we’re looking for companies that love their neighbors neighbors – their customers, employees, supply chains, host communities, environment, and society.

CURTIS CHANG: Got it. Well, let’s break that down a little more. Finny, Robin’s laid out the avoid part of the framework: avoid doing harm, avoid plundering the world. In what ways do the standard world practices of investing lead people to fund exploitation and how does your investment avoid those things? If I’m just putting my money in a S&P 500 index fund, I could say, “Well look, I’m not actively investing in exploitation or plunder.” I think you guys would say, “Actually you may be unthinkingly participating in those things.” Break that down for me. 

FINNY KURUVILLA: Yeah, so I’ll give you an example without naming the specific company. We actually wrote a piece about this several years ago about this company and I’d guess 20 to 30 percent of people who have any kind of investments have invested in this company. It’s a tobacco company. And we ran a piece that I thought was very, very interesting. 

It began by talking about a boy in Indonesia named Haddi and how he was stealing money from his parents and from other people in order to fund his tobacco habit. This little boy, this eight year old boy, started smoking at four years old. And you might say, “Okay, that’s some crazy anomaly.” Well, as it turns out, it’s not at all. The whole industry of tobacco is highly regulated in the US. but it’s not so regulated when you go into the developing world. And the average age for starting to smoke in Indonesia has fallen from 19 years old to seven years old.


FINNY KURUVILLA: And yes, I said seven. And it’s because there’s this blitz of advertising and easy accessibility of tobacco. So we asked, “Who owns this particular company that makes many millions of dollars from Indonesia in particular?” And we found that the largest owners were, in fact, American 529 plans. So for those who don’t know what a 529 plan is, it’s where you save for your children’s college education. And here, it was the Virginia 529 savings plan. And in fact, the top owners of this particular tobacco company, out of the top six, all but one were 529 college savings plans. So think about that for a moment.

You have American parents trying to save for their children’s future And how are they doing that? Well, one of the sources is the dividends which come from putting children in Indonesia into a form of bondage, right? The irony is tragic here. So that’s one example of where somebody in a typical ETF or index fund would be owning this company and profiting from it. 

And so we said that we don’t want to be profiting from these types of stocks. And it is pervasive. I mean, it is absolutely pervasive how much you will find tobacco, abortion, gambling. Some of the most addictive behaviors that are out there are being sold in these ETFs, in these mutual funds. And then, as I said, the typical American is profiting from this type of activity. We find that to be absolutely tragic and something that we ought to turn away from.

ROBIN JOHN: Yeah, remember is that, when you invest in something, you’re rooting for its success. You want to see this thing proliferate so that your profits will keep growing. 

So what are we rooting for in the world? Should it be for more tobacco or something else?

Photo by Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash

Should your investment portfolio as a follower of Jesus look any different from everyone else’s? Do our Biblical values have implications for our 401K? Robin John and Finny Kuruvilla founded Eventide Investments because they believe the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” They join Curtis to explore how we as Christians can pursue a kind of financial investing that “makes the world rejoice.”


Redeeming Babel is hiring! Check out our openings here for a Director of Development and a Manager of Partnerships and Projects.


The article the guests cited on the connections between pornography and the sex slave trade can be found here. Their article on how common mutual funds are complicit in fostering childhood smoking can be found here.


Also, read about the work of the Justice Defense Fund in exposing how publicly traded companies – and investors in those companies – profit from pornography and sex abuse.


B2THEWORLD: Join the Christian effort to rebuild high quality schools in war torn parts of the world.


George Fox University: Check out the offerings of one of the premier Christian universities in the country.


What happens inside us when we suffer or those around us suffer? What happens in our brain? In our soul? Curtis is joined by “the other Curt” — Dr. Curt Thompson — to talk about his new book, The Deepest Place: Suffering and the Formation of Hope. Their conversation explores questions such as: What is the connection between our desire for beauty and our vulnerability to suffering? Why do we avoid others when we are suffering? Why do the sufferings of others make us so uncomfortable? Most of all, the they probe for the invitation of God amidst suffering.

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.

CURTIS CHANG: So Curt, when you invited us to join with others in their suffering, and when you described that experience for yourself when your brother died, you got emotional. And I felt like I was hearing about something beautiful and also something profoundly terrifying. The depth of feeling that listeners could probably pick up, even remotely, in the timbre and pause and the break of your voice – that’s beautiful and that’s terrifying. Can you say more to those of us who are near people who are suffering? Part of us wants to draw near and share suffering in the way you describe. And then part of us feels terrified by this. 

I’ve got a friend in our church who has a rapidly progressing neurological disease such that he’s a shell of himself. He’s barely functioning, barely conscious. He’s not really mobile. This is a 40-year-old guy who, up until two years ago, was playing basketball. And tomorrow on my Sabbath day, my wife and I are visiting him in his care facility. And I am terrified of doing that. I mean, every time I go, I’m terrified. And all this dread: it’ll make me feel uncomfortable, it’ll make me feel sad. It will make me feel… 

I think it makes me anxious for myself and my future. What will my demise be like? I mean, so many things come up. Can you help me – and listeners who also surround the suffering – work through our own experience of the suffering and combat our impulse to avoid it?

CURT THOMPSON: Well, the first thing I want to say is I’m just really sorry. I’m sorry about your friend and I’m sorry for you because, when we lose any part of something or someone we love, we lose a part of ourselves. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. That’s death trying to put its hand on our shoulder – the death that God warns Adam about in Genesis 2. 

And I think we become afraid of ourselves.I become afraid that I’m going to feel something unpleasant. I’m sensing that I’m not going to be able to tolerate what I’m feeling. I’m worried that I won’t be able to tolerate me. And that feeling comes from my own experience somewhere. Some part of my story is coming into the room, some part of my story when something happened to me that shouldn’t have, or something didn’t happen to me that should have, where there’s been a rupture that hasn’t been repaired and I was left to deal with this sadness, grief, anxiety by myself.

Those emotions of distress were never intended to be dealt with in isolation. They were intended to be co-regulated with someone else. “It’s not good for the man to be alone.” These are the primary mechanics of attachment. When an infant is in distress, the parent helps the infant learn to co-regulate their distress. 

And so we bring our own stories to the table when we are sitting with our friend who is suffering. And it becomes an opportunity, if we are open to it, for Jesus to bring comfort and healing – not only to our friend via our presence, but also to us and the parts of our stories that are invited into the room because we chose to move toward the suffering.

And this is Jesus saying, “It’s not those who are well whom I have come for. It’s those who are not well.” And we all have, myself included, parts of us that are not yet well that we have tried to keep out of Jesus’ sight line. This is like the woman in Mark 5 who has the bleeding problem, who comes with a plan, right? Get in, get the job done, get out, tug on His robe. And then He has a completely different plan. He’s going to come for everything – things she might not have thought He could address. But this is what happens. 

We want to come and be a presence for healing for our friend in distress only to discover that Jesus will heal everyone in a five-mile radius of this. Jesus wants to be in the room with you with those feelings. He’s in the room and He’s not looking at you with any disdain or any sense of, “Why are you feeling this?” He’s looking at you in the room when you feel all this and He’s going to wink at you and say, “I know.”

And if you’re able to name these things, you can be sure that your friend will know that you feel what he feels – all the worry, all the fear. He can feel like he’s not alone by virtue of you naming your pain that, for sure, is part of his story as well.

When two or more gather in my name, the Spirit is going to come to the room and do things that you all are not in charge of. The wind blows where it will, and it’s going to come and do its work. 

And little do we know that, all these things that I’m feeling that I would much rather leave those things at home, Jesus says, “No, I want them in the room. I want you to be curious about this. I want what’s happening with your friend to be an opportunity for me to do work with you in parts of your story that you didn’t know would come into the room.”

CURTIS CHANG: That’s beautiful. And that is a profound invitation. And just to restate it for myself, if not for our listeners, you’re saying that, when we draw near to suffering and feel that resistance, that avoidance, that’s actually Jesus’s invitation for our growth and healing. We are not mere delivery vehicles of healing for others, but in that process we are recipients of healing for ourselves because, in that resistance, something in our own story is being triggered. And it’s an opportunity for Jesus to touch that part of us.

CURT THOMPSON: Absolutely, if we are open to it.

“Founding friend” David French returns to address with Curtis the visceral question in many hearts and minds, “When will things return to normal?” They explore all the questions behind the question, such as “What exactly is ‘normal?” Does it differ for different people? What picture of the past undergirds my longing?” They compare this political and social moment with past eras in American history and church history. Most importantly, they ask, “Is this the right question that God would have us ask – or is there a better question to pose in this particular moment?”

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.

DAVID FRENCH: This is the new political normal. And maybe what I used to consider normal was, in fact, an aberration. I’ve thought a lot about that in the context of my conservative political ideology. The conservatism I grew up with might have been the aberration and the modern American right that we’re experiencing right now is a return to the norm that existed. And that’s one thing that I’ve been kind of turning over in my mind quite a bit.

CURTIS CHANG: Well, give us a glimpse of that turning over. 

DAVID FRENCH: Yeah, so I’ve been really influenced by an excellent book: The Right, the Hundred Year War for American Conservatism by Matthew Continetti. It’s really good. It takes, as the title says, a 100-year-long look at the right. And what you see is that, beginning ideologically with Goldwater, but then moving to Reagan with both the combination of ideology and disposition, was the creation of something different. It was very different from Nixon, the previous Republican president. And that this combination of an ideological libertarianism, social conservatism, and then also – I think this is very important – this hopeful, optimistic look at the American experiment in American life. You combined all of those things into a particular package at a very specific time in American history. They landed at a time of very low confidence. They’ve landed at a time of very high alarm about the future of the United States.

That’s what I grew up in. I experienced this as a movement alive with ideas. And I’ll give you an anecdote that illustrates this. 

When I was in law school, Jack Kemp came to our conservative group at the law school. And he spoke to us about enterprise zones, his effort to bring economic revitalization to America’s inner cities, his effort to expand the Republican intent to include more black voters. And he talked to our group, Curtis, for three hours. And I felt like I was at the beginning of something special, if that makes sense.

Then during that time, the Berlin Wall fell during my sophomore year in college. Then the Soviet Union collapsed not long after that. And the world felt alive with possibility and you felt that you were part of a movement that had really accomplished something concretely good, even if you’re the tiniest little cog in the machine. Sure, you can’t even measure your involvement with an electron microscope, it’s so small. But you still felt a part of something. And to me, that was conservatism.

So when I saw the bad apples pop up, it was easy to say, “Every movement’s got some bad apples, but this is who we are. We’re trying to build a bigger tent. We’re trying to liberate the creativity and the industry of the American people. We have confidence in American strength and that it’s, on the whole, a force for good in the world.” 

I didn’t fully grasp that the moment didn’t reflect the American right, by and large, over the course of American history. Now, I’m not going to say the American right was fully a malignant force over the course of American history. But we weren’t that far removed from a very corrupt and authoritarian version of the right in Richard Nixon. We were not that far removed from a very paranoid and authoritarian version of the right in McCarthy.  So I’ve come to realize that what I was living through was the aberration, and this sense that I lived through an aberration was reinforced by how quickly the right shifted. Because if the right was thoroughly what I thought it was, it would not have shifted.

CURTIS CHANG: Well, you’re making the political version of the same point that Jesus and John Wayne makes about the church – that we are getting this resurgence of chauvinism and misogyny in recent years because that’s just a return to the historic norm in American Evangelicalism. 

Iit does really point to the fact that our definition of normal is highly contingent on when we came of political age. Like you said, the 20-somethings that are growing up have a completely different sense of what normal is. We’re not even talking about the same thing when we ask when things will return to normal.

DAVID FRENCH: Oh, totally. A perfect example happened in the debate last week when Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley over foreign policy.  Nikki Haley is speaking the language I have understood and have grown up with. Vivek is speaking a totally different language. It’s both new and old. It’s new in the sense that that is part of the new right, much more isolationist. But it’s also old. There’s a reason why that view is also, until recently, called paleo-conservative because it’s an older view. So it’s the melding together of old and new. And my version is stuck right in the middle between those two.

CURTIS CHANG: We forget that historically, the 1990s were an extraordinary period of time. It’s when Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History, that we’ve reached some culminating point in ideology that actually ends ideological division. And it turns out, boy, that it was just a blip and the extreme ideological conflicts may actually be more the norm in our political history.

DAVID FRENCH: Yeah. And I think his book is often misunderstood.He was talking about the triumph of the liberal democracy model, but he also talks about what happens when liberal democracy has triumphed. They’ll fall in on themselves.

CURTIS CHANG: Yeah, he does warn that.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
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