For several months during my time as a seminary student I worked the night shift at a local mirror factory. My title was prism inspector, and for every hour of work I was expected to check about a hundred car rearview mirrors for possible defects. But I was also required to take a ten-minute break each hour, to rest my eyes from intently staring at mirrors for the previous 50 minutes.
"Politics pulverizes,” observed the elegant, white-haired editor as she looked at me across her mahogany desk. She knew about such things, having grown up a bishop’s daughter, single-handedly raised several children, lost friends to war, managed a farm and worked for the last decades of her life in journalism and publishing.
“Social entrepreneurship" involves innovators who address problems in society and advance a particular social mission to serve a larger good. We Christians have long had people who fulfilled this role, people who founded the Salvation Army, Goodwill and many hospitals and universities.But in the last few decades churches and denominations seem to have lost their steam. Have we Christians lost our sense of social entrepreneurship?
Several summers ago, I visited the early medieval monastic site of Glendalough with students and faculty from a seminary in Dublin. The site dates back to the sixth century, when St. Kevin (led by an angel, according to tradition) founded a monastery there.
The reason I am still in the ministry is because of the night I decided to leave the ministry. It was my day off. The phone rang, and it was the chaplain at a nearby hospital. Usually we would exchange pleasantries, but all she said was, “Come to the hospital—now.” I trusted the urgency in her voice and arrived in about ten minutes.
In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those in the top 20 percent of earnings—gave only 1.3 percent of their earnings to charity. Those in the bottom 20 percent donated 3.2 percent of their income. Several theories exist as to why the wealthy are inclined to give less: by their very nature they are driven to look out for their own interests, and they are less likely to be exposed to real human need. Wealthy people tend to give to institutions from which they benefit, such as universities, museums, and arts organizations, while the poor tend to give to social service charities and religious organizations (Atlantic, March 20).