It’s Thursday morning, November 9, 2006. It’s ten after nine. I’m at my desk, working through Ecclesiastes for a book I am to write. The verse I’m working on goes like this: “Better a handful with quietness than two fistfuls with toil and a chasing after wind.”
Scholars say the title "To the Hebrews" is not a part of the original
manuscript: the author of this early Christian letter—a written sermon,
really—doesn’t waste time on salutations. He gets right to it, straight
to the point.
Martha Tidwell sat before me wearing a blue pants suit and a weary face. Four years ago she left her high-paying job as an accountant after having discerned, with her church’s help, that she was called by God to begin the process of becoming a pastor. Her husband, Ted, was supportive and quit his job as well so that they could come to Pittsburgh to begin her studies.
During the day, her mother’s confusion was manageable, more or less.
They would wake up, have their tea and toast and walk around the house,
noticing which flowers were waxing and which were waning. After their
mid-morning nap, they would have lunch and then settle into a long game
of cards or—her mother’s favorite—dominoes.
When adjusted for inflation, the dollar amount for charitable giving in 2013 nearly reached the peak for charitable giving before the Great Recession. For 2013, giving in current dollars increased by 4.4 percent. However, giving to religion in the same year was flat and even down slightly when adjusted for inflation. Giving to the arts, health, the environment, and education has been increasing the last three years. During the Great Recession, people tended to give more to organizations that were addressing immediate needs, such as food pantries and homeless shelters. All sectors of giving were up in 2013, except for corporations, with giving by individuals up the most (Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).