December 25, 2008

Strange Thrift

A reader sent me this response to John’s essay on Christians and Thrift and my follow-up snipe:

There’s a reason Christians have stopped being thrifty that you didn’t mention. The churches teach them not to. Most churches want people to spend lots of money on the church, increase giving, etc. In the Calvinist churches a generation ago, people were encouraged to be stingy w/ themselves & their families so as to free up money for the kingdom of God. And a hundred years ago, you might sometimes have seen like sentiment in the mainline denominations. Today you don’t, because you can do better by reinforcing the cultural con game.
And of course we must not forget the evangelical money magick, tithing. God wants you to tithe; if you don’t, & you have money problems, well, there you are. If you do, then you have the ASSURANCE of the very WORD of GOD that all will be well financially. If tithing doesn’t straighten out your finances, then you must have done something else to piss Him off. God responds to faith, and real faith means giving generously. I remember seeing a nasty expose of crooked televangelists from some ministry I’d never heard of. There was a blurb telling how they got into the expose business. It seemed they were an outreach to the poor w/ a soup kitchen & homeless ministry. They fed & did things for homeless people, hooked them up w/ social services, etc. They decided to study the decisions & mistakes that had gotten people thrown out on the street, and did a survey. One of the questions was “what was the last thing you spent a lot of money on before you got kicked out?” The appalling answer in many cases was “I sent in a faith promise donation to the televangelist, because he PROMISED that God would meet my needs if I gave generously & sacrificially.” Of course said ministries did nothing if the poor suckers asked them for help.

Anyway, ‘thrift’ is plainly a dirty word for such people.


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