I hear a fearful refrain coming from church leaders, from every denominational level. They twist their fingers into knots as they say: If we don’t have our endowment, we will die. It’s our job to protect the endowment for future generations. Our future depends on a healthy endowment.
I knew life was a gift to be shared, not a possession to safeguard, even before my wife collapsed on the kitchen floor. But it was abstract knowledge then.
There is a prevalent idea in culture that pastors are money-grubbers. I think I have met one of those. Maybe. But, for the most part, we hate asking for money. The majority of church budgets go to salaries, and we feel bad about that, even if we make less than a third of the average person in our congregation. So we can get embarrassed during stewardship time.
We know about all of the shifts in communication and technology, but there are also huge changes when it comes to giving money. Younger generations often think much differently when it comes to finances and budgeting, and we should think differently as a church as well.
The passage (Mark 12:41–44) about the poor widow who put “everything she had” in the temple treasury was among the lectionary readings a few weeks ago, and it’s a frequent text for stewardship sermons. The example of the widow’s generosity seems clear enough, and it’s part of the church’s standard repertoire about sacrificial giving.
But Fergus Kerr suggests that the story is about not generosity but exploitation.
Docetic offertory prayers imply that the money inside the envelopes in the offering plates is unimportant, even embarrassing.
by Dean Snyder
The new Century editorial
offers that if the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum for president,
his regular rhetoric about poverty might challenge President Obama to
engage him on it--giving voters a chance to hear two different analyses
of the problem instead of, you know, not hearing about it all.
Somewhat more quixotically, I've found myself wondering whether there's an opportunity as well in Santorum's recent claim that environmentalism amounts to a "phony theology." Stephen Prothero's reaction is to challenge Santorum's desire to draw who's-a-real-Christian lines; Rachel Tabachnick's is to trace the "phony theology" line to the influence of the Cornwall Alliance.
points both, but what interests me here is that Santorum's comments
point to one of the basic theological questions for Christian
eco-engagement: Is the emphasis on human membership in the wider
creation or on human responsibility for it?