Sunday, August 08, 2010

Funding Evil: A Fool and His Money

This Sunday presented me with a large sampling of lectionary edits to deal with. I think this would be a good time to read straight through the expurgated verses for a change to get a feel for what the average pewsitter is being protected from hearing.

The Old Testament reading was Isaiah 1:1,10-20. Listen to what was not heard.
Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.

Ah, sinful nation,
people laden with iniquity,
offspring who do evil,
children who deal corruptly,
who have forsaken the Lord,
who have despised the Holy One of Israel,
who are utterly estranged!

Why do you seek further beatings?
Why do you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and bleeding wounds;
they have not been drained, or bound up,
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate,
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
aliens devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And daughter Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a shelter in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we would have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
I am surprised they allowed people to hear verse 10:
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

Next, a large chunk of Psalm 50 got the ax. We read verses 1-8,22-23.

Hear again the missing verses,
I will not accept a bull from your house,
or goats from your folds.
For every wild animal of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the air,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

‘If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and all that is in it is mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’

But to the wicked God says:
‘What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
You make friends with a thief when you see one,
and you keep company with adulterers.

‘You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
The Epistle also got trimmed. We heard Hebrews 11:3,8-16. The missing verses were,
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.
There is so much good stuff in there that I have to wonder if we indeed are guilty of a great sin by omitting verses for whatever reason, be it in the interest of shortening the service, or trying to focus on one theme, or what I suspect, and that is to minimize people's exposure to talk about sin and judgement.

Given all of that confusion, it might be understandable that our rector chose to ignore those lessons and focus on Luke:32-40. Well, he actually focused soley on verse 34.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In his sermon, the treasure the rector chose to dwell upon was money. He told us about the depression era generation and how, in future years, they obsessed over money. After trying to shock people by stressing the word "fool" several times when talking about the rich man and his heirs in Luke 12:13-21 (last week's lesson), and then discussing his own discipline of tithing, he eventually came around to a theme of how liberating it was to give without questioning the outcome.

All of this brought to mind my choice to no longer fund the evil schemes of the Episcopal church. This is the church, after all, that funds pro-abortion groups, and seeks to destroy Holy Matrimony. The heart of this church is bound by the desires of the flesh.
"The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it"-Isaiah 1:5-6
I am afraid that I have found a treasure in the Word of God as delivered through the teachings of the Apostles and the Bible. I am sorry, but that is where my heart is right now, and I just can't see myself adding fuel to the fires that are consuming pieces of that heart verse by verse.

I also reflected on last week's news headlines about several billionaires who are promising to give away half of their wealth, not because of any Biblical wisdom, but because they have more than they can possibly spend. I pray that they give wisely, and that they don't create any monsters, but I am afraid that their treasure may not be the Word of God either.

The good folks at StandFirm posted a piece on how abortionist training gets funded and referenced a NYT article which highlighted a famous billionaire who has recently been in the news for his pledge to give large chunks of his money to "charities."

"Susan Thompson Buffett was married to Warren Buffett and served as president of the foundation that bears her name. She died in 2004. Two years later, Warren Buffett gave the foundation about $3 billion. He said that he expected the gift to increase the foundation’s annual expenditures by $150 million. And in fact, total giving by the foundation, where two of the Buffetts’ children sit on the board, increased from $202 million in 2007 to $347 million in 2008, according to tax returns."

"The tax records also show that most of the foundation’s spending goes to abortion and contraception advocacy and research. According to Access Philanthropy, a research institute that focuses on the giving preferences of foundations and corporate donors, family planning is one of the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation’s main purposes. The foundation’s nonprofit 990 tax form shows that in 2008, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates in the U.S. received about $45 million; the international arm of the organization got about $8 million. There is no line item for the Ryan program or the Family Planning Fellowship. But the foundation paid out around $50 million to universities with one or both of the programs."

"Warren Buffett has never spoken publicly about his views on abortion. But in the 1990s, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Buffett Foundation helped finance the research and development of the pills that induce abortion. The foundation also helped finance a lawsuit to overturn the ban on so-called partial-birth abortion in Nebraska, Buffett’s home state and the headquarters of his company, Berkshire Hathaway. (Susan Thompson Buffett moved from Omaha to San Francisco in 1977 but remained close to her husband. She took credit for introducing him to the woman he has lived with since 1978; the three sent out Christmas cards together.) In Thompson Buffett’s only television interview, which was broadcast after her death, she told Charlie Rose: 'Warren feels that women all over the world get shortchanged. That’s why he’s so pro-choice.'"
Buffett's actions above and words below point to some of the perils of his idea of charity. He is reported at as saying,
"He said the wonderful aspect about private philanthropy is that money can be used to experiment with new initiatives that governments might not be willing to try."
The word is out on the street. Social experimentalists are listening. Now is the time to get their pet projects funded. If billions are funneled into other destructive "charities," just think of the long term harm to not just this country but to the world.

John Tammy at Forbes may have it right in his article "If Charity is Their Goal, Gates and Buffett Should Hoard Their Wealth" that their money should be used as capital for business,
"There are no jobs without investment, and given the billions that Gates and Buffett control, if they were to hoard their wealth rather than give it away, their wealth-creation motive would boost the job market."

There may be room for both wealth creation and charitable giving, but Tammy has a point.

Today, I faced a decision, should I put money in the recor's plate (T.E.C.), or should I put it in the "Christians Feed the Hungry" plate.

I chose the latter.

Now, where did I lay that WSJ?

1 comment:

  1. Meaty stuff here, not the least of which is this:

    what I suspect, and that is to minimize people's exposure to talk about sin and judgment.

    That seems to be the trend these days, i.e. eliminate the "icky" stuff that makes us all feel bad and examine our lives in light of God's Word, which, alas, could cause a change in behavior and a rejection of our current shepherds' pronouncements.