It isn’t generosity when it’s required

Once again I was prepared to discuss the Higgs-Boson particle, which is essential to the mystery of Jesus (at least according to some blogs). But then Ann Romney spoke up. In the wake of the controversy about her husband's falsifying records about his stint at Bain Capital, she said Mitt was one of the most generous men she knows. Her example? Mitt gives ten percent of their income to the Mormon Church.

First of all, let me explain to Republicans and members of the Christian right why Romney's record at Bain is so important in an election that will be primarily about the economy. First, he lied to the government about when he ran Bain. When you lie to the government, you are officially, on the record, lying to the American people who are the government.

What did he lie about? His economic record as CEO. This should send a warning flag when he says that he will do as President what he did as CEO.

It should also send a warning flag since he oversaw massive layoffs and outsourcing to maintain profitability. This is the clearest indicator of his economic policy's effects since his policy is pretty much to cut corporate taxes and let them create jobs elsewhere.

It's hard to be upset about the lying part since we already know the Christian right has pretty much struck that off the ten commandments to make room for their abortion plank.

But I'm interested in Ann Romney's claim that giving ten percent to your church is generous. Jesus pretty much said the opposite. Tithing is not an act of generosity, it's an article of faith. You aren't being generous until you give more than asked.

Romney may be generous (even though his employees might not feel that generosity). But it isn't for paying his bills to God.

My family had a hard time getting a handle on this, but I was raised Baptist Preacher's Kid (BPK) so it may have come with the territory. My family loved to ask us to be generous with each other, so much so that we twisted each other's arm until the spirit of generosity overwhelmed us.

It would begin simply and innocently. With a suggestion like, “Wouldn't it be nice if you…?” Innocent to people who don't speak Baptist (or Stephens). To those of us who speak the language, it meant “You will.”

Nor was a gift really a gift so much as an obligation in its own right. The master of obligatory gift giving was my grandmother, who wan't Baptist but a conservative Presbyterian raised in the heart of John Birch country in Ohio. My sisters and I learned to keep our gifts still wrapped in our closets so we could return them whenever she said, “How can you be this way when I gave you such a wonderful present.”

Perhaps the best example of this was the fifty dollar gift an uncle gave to a family in need who were also in his employ. He had just hired the dad, so he floated him fifty dollars to get by until the first pay day. We learned about this gift at the next family dinner when he complained that he spotted the family at Kentucky Fried Chicken that very evening. Even worse, when he saw his employee in the grocery store later in the week, he was buying beer.

That ungrateful lout. It seems my uncle expected his employee to spend the money on baloney sandwiches and milk because that's what poor people should eat to stay on budget.

I thought it might be useful to touch bases on a few tips that you might not be a generous as you think. From what I read in the Bible, you aren't being generous if:

  1. You have an obligation to give.
  2. You give but you don't want to.
  3. You give less than you tell people you do. (This actually got some people killed by the Holy Spirit.)
  4. You do it because someone twists your arm.
  5. You complain about it.
  6. You have to tell everyone how much you gave.
  7. You have to remind them constantly that you gave.
  8. You have a plaque with your name mounted on the gift.
  9. They have to wear it or put it on display whenever you're around or you make them feel guilty.
  10. You expect something back.
  11. You expect it to be used differently than the recipient wants it to be used.
  12. You claim it on your tax returns

By my calculation, Romney's tithes aren't really generous by counts 1, 6 and (most likely) 12. Oh, and, by the way, it isn't generous if you feel you're being generous. That's pride. (So maybe we should add 13 to 1, 6 and 12).

And my hyperactive dog Pearl tells me it isn't being generous to give your dog a ride on the roof so she can share your vacation.

I don't claim to be a generous person myself, by the way. Generosity is difficult by any measure. Grace allows us to slide when we fail to be generous, and we shouldn't jeopardize grace by proclaiming our generosity.

Give us this day

Our father who art in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, because the Tea Party is having none of either.

I planned on not writing about the debt crisis, but the issue doesn’t seem to go away and we can lay the blame on the modern day pharisees and saducees , the House Republicans and the Tea Party (the Republican zealot wing). And make no mistake about it, holding the nation hostage to a political agenda and then claiming they are just trying to stop Obama from capitalizing on an election issue, is not WJWD.

Jesus was not, contrary to current belief, committed to extreme positions. If anything, he would always listen to those in need and find a way to help them. When a non-Jewish woman asked him to cast out demons and he said the law forbid it, she reminded him of the responsibility to at least feed scraps, and he gave her everything.

When the Centurion asked him to turn his attention from the needs of his own people to heal his own sick, non-Jewish daughter, Jesus did it. When the family of a sick man interrupted him by lowering a sick man through the roof, he didn’t get indignant or refuse. He healed him.

When he was accused of breaking the law to heal the sick on the sabbath, Jesus basically said, sometimes we have to ignore the law to serve those in need. He reminded us that the meek were blessed, and we should turn the other cheek when someone asked us to carry what we perceived to be an unfair burden.

The one time he truly lost it was when he discovered that the temple had been turned over to the service of greed (read K Street and wealthy lobbyists).

Jesus had two positions, treat others with love and your faith will make you whole. I’m no longer sure our faith in the political system will make us whole.

Jesus never ever held anyone hostage to his ideology. I would ask that House Republicans do the same.

One last request

And I would also suggest that Obama simply lift the debt ceiling with an executive order and kick it back to the Congress to overturn it.

Congress can overturn executive orders by passing legislation replacing the debt ceiling at its current levels, or by refusing to authorize money for payment to debts in excess of the ceiling. But of course, that would require House Republicans to actually agree on something, which they no longer seem to be able to do.

Righteous Indigestion launches May 21

In case you don’t know, the world will end on May 21. This is a fact. It is even reported by reliable news sources like MSNBC.1

I know this is true because it says so on a billboard about a mile from my house.

Okay, not the end of the world, but the genuine, honest to God, rapture. Evidently, the final end of the world is on October 31 when God comes for everybody else. This would mean God would have to move up his timetable because, as I recall, in the good old days of Hal Lindsay everybody would have to suffer a lot longer before God gave them what they really deserve. But since we have such a much shorter attention span than we did in the seventies (which is the last time I took Hal Lindsay seriously because he hadn’t changed the signs of the apocalypse so many times), six months is probably appropriate.

The new timing is also very good for God because that allows him to beat the Mayans (and Satan) to the punch. The godless, idol worshiping Mayans have declared that the world will end in December 2012 (precise date and time may vary), so this gives the Righteous more than a year to make sure there’s no more world to end in when the planetary alignment and solar flares show up.

So there you have it. May 21 is the rapture and that’s the day I will officially launch the blog Righteous Indigestion. I figure that since most of the Tea Party intends to go on that day,2 that will give us a good six months to finally get something useful accomplished.

You see, people who believe in the rapture believe that Jesus will take Christians up into the air so he can punish the rest of the world. By “Christians” they don’t mean Episcopalians or old school Catholics or Presbyterians, half of the Methodists and anyone who voted for Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or other posers who only pretend to be Christians.

Especially not those of us who voted for Obama who will single handedly usher in the end of the world after the 2012 elections. Or would have had God not beaten him to the punch on May 21.

In fact, you have to wonder why the Tea Party cares about slashing the funding to NPR and Planned Parenthood, or wants to decimate Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security when Jesus is going to rapture them anyway?

And now that Obama has made it clear that some of the deficit reduction has to come from raising taxes, they will be up in arms even though it won’t be their taxes he’s raising. After all, they won’t be here.

But it strikes me, after listening to the religious right’s spin machine for more years than I can count, that these Christians are the stingiest people I have ever met. And so willing to rush to judgment. It’s almost as though they took the New Testament and the Jefferson version (which they hate) and then cut out all the passages Jefferson kept and clutched what was left to their breasts as though these were the real words of Jesus without the liberal Democratic bullshit that got added by the liberal Democrats over the past two thousand years.

For instance, that verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” was liberal crap spliced in after the fact. And remember, this was supposed to be a summary of the most important commandments anyway. So here are the real commandments the liberals so completely rewrote with the “golden rule.”

  • Expect the government to give you everything you want without paying taxes in return.
  • If you don’t think it’s important, nobody else should get it from the government either
  • The poor don’t deserve shit and they’re using the government to steal from you.3
  • Keep everything you earned for yourself because, by God, you earned it.
  • Resist tax increases for the rich because Jesus wants you to be one of them one day.
  • If anyone disagrees with you, they’re wrong, unChristian and totally unAmerican.

Nor should we forget that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar” and Paul said that God gave us government to serve our best interests, they were just kidding. Especially in America where we actually are Caesar and the government. This means our support ultimately is support we’re giving to ourselves.

Now I’m not going to quote chapter and verse to you because being raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I’ve heard chapter and verse cited by advocates of both sides of any argument (sometimes the same chapter and same verse by both sides of an argument) only to be used to support why those same people changed their minds a few years later (all the while insisting they would never have believed something as stupid as what they used to believe).

But here’s the Gospel I always read. God cares about what’s in our hearts, and giving (willing and glad giving I might add) shows your heart’s in the right place. Even if you don’t personally benefit.

In fact, it’s better if you don’t benefit because gracious giving with no hope of material reward adds to eternal reward.

It bothers me most when Christians say they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support education, Social Security or health care because they aren’t paying for their own health care. Jesus taught me that (yes, me personally) that it doesn’t matter if my taxes don’t pay for my son’s education because someone else’s taxes did.

My taxes did pay for my niece’s educations since they went to school in our district. Joy ended up becoming a counselor and Kelly (who’s Catholic) a law student at Baptist Baylor. My nephews got great educations and graduated from A&M. Thanks to taxes. One’s a physicist and another a software engineer. So I’m grateful to the people who paid for their educations and am perfectly willing to pay for someone else’s education in return.

And even though I’m a pacifist (because I’m a Christian) I don’t mind paying taxes to support a military because those taxes helped pay for my son’s years in the Marines and continue to pay for the benefits from disabilities he suffered.

Do I want to pay for fighter planes that never fly, troops in every country and three wars I don’t support? No, I don’t. But I also know that when you give, you immediately lose control over how that money is spent. It’s part of giving. If you give with the expectation that the money will be spent exactly the way you spend it, it’s no longer a gift but a purchase. And that requires a contract.

Whenever the person you give to becomes obligated, it ceases to be a gift.4

Jesus made this pretty clear when Mary took money that had been given to support his ministry and the poor and spent it on oils to pamper him.

So, guess what? It isn’t just Obama who’s telling me to give tax money to help get America out of debt without dismantling Social Security, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and NPR. It’s Jesus, and he’s telling me to give willingly and gladly.

And I will continue to do so even after May 21.


Key topics

It seems the search engine bots aren’t that smart. They look for exact matches to key words in the text. If you look for words that would direct you to the topic but aren’t actually included in the text (because the actual keywords don’t really fit the text being written), the bots kick you out of the search and refuse to list your page. I know this because I used to write for web sites and had to skew the text by including every possible variation of the key words, even when adding them created bizarre, banal or just plain bad prose. So I’m including them here. If you feel I’ve misrepresented the post with these key words, please complain to WordPress, Google and Bing.

Tea Party, rapture, May 21, taxes, Obama, Barach Obama,Social Security, Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Public Radio, Medicare, Obamacare, religious right, golden rule, search engine bots, generosity, giving


1If it was Fox, you might have cause to doubt it, at least according to the liberal elite. But this comes straight from the liberal press itself.back
2It is a proven fact, proven by the same sources that Rush and Glenn Beck use to fuel their fantasies, that Tea Party members are the primary readers of the Left Behind series. back
2 …even though you’re probably one of them, or will be if the Republicans have their way. Okay, I added that part.back
2Derrida wrote an entire book on the subject, but since he’s French, which means not a Christian by definition, I’m going to bury this fact in the footnotes where only people who would read writers like Derrida would be looking anyway.back

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