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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Putting my money where my mouth is

I did a lot of magazine reading over the weekend. When I find my camera, I'll tell you all about what we did this weekend.

Anyway, two in particular are stuck in my craw, so I thought I'd share. One I'll name, the other you don't get to know because I'm about to bash it. As far as the one I'll name, let's just say if you read my blog and you like what I have to say, you need to be reading Relevant Magazine. A lot of great content there.

So, the real point I wanted to make is this: As I've matured as a Christian, I find myself seeking to live out life fully as a disciple of Christ. What does that mean? Um, I don't know. Really. I don't. As I often say, I don't have the answers. Mostly, each answer I find only brings more questions. One thing I do know is that we're called to care for "the least of these." We're supposed to reach out and care for those around us.

When I read The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, it really rocked my world. God really used that book to show me how much more open and giving my life could (and should!) be. Friends like Lisa Samson continue to inspire and challenge me to do more to promote justice in the world I live in.

It's in this frame of mind that I picked up a magazine in a waiting room while on our weekend excursion. One of the "articles" featured things we can do to help make the world a better place. Part of the feature had celebrities highlighting the things they did. I almost vomited. One of them was a famous actress that everyone (except me, I've never liked her work) loves. Her solution: she only takes five minute showers, because she once read that every two minutes of shower time is enough water for a person in Africa for a day. Or something like that. I think it's great that this celebrity cares about the water crisis in Africa. And I think it's great that she's chosen to conserve water in her showers to help the effort. Every little bit helps. But...

I am completely unimpressed with a woman who makes more money per movie than the average African community will see in a lifetime, and her solution to the problem is to take shorter showers. Do I think we should all take shorter showers? Absolutely. I admit, I fall short of the bar on this one, as I'm still at about ten minutes. But how can the wealthiest people in the world pat themselves on the back for making a difference in the world when they are doing NOTHING compared to what they could do?

Interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." I think about this and other verses on wealth a lot. On one hand, I don't necessarily think that the rich have a higher obligation to the world than the poor. On the other hand, I'm angry that they could do so much more than they are doing, and yet they choose not to. But then I have to ask the tough question: Am I any better?

Last night I walked to the Chinese place to pick up dinner, and on the way back, a young man stopped me and asked me for change for the bus. I told him I didn't have any and walked away. I actually had plenty of money, having just gotten back from vacation. But my arms were full of the dinner I'd just purchased and getting to my wallet would have been difficult. I also got a creepy feeling from the guy that had me looking over my shoulder the rest of the way home. I was torn between guilt over denying someone money that I knew I had and the fear of being a woman alone in a back alley with a creepy guy.

Often when we critique the behavior of others, it's because there's a layer of that same bad behavior in ourselves. Maybe not to the extent of being a multimillionaire who says that her solution to the world's problems is only taking a five minute shower. But it's there. Staring us in the face and asking us if we're willing to take the next step.

What I love about reading Relevant Magazine is that each issue has articles or blurbs illustrating real steps we can all take to make a difference. Yes, a five minute shower is a good thing. But I love how Relevant takes it a step further.

One of the blurbs this month talked about Andy Warhol and that while we remember him as an artist, he was also a devoted Christian. He didn't need to stand on a big stage and say, "look at me, I'm such a great Christian," he just lived out his life in the manner he thought best befitting Jesus.

As I browsed through the Relevant site, I came across this article that nicely sums up where I'm hoping to go with the money thing in my own life. I pray that God will give me the strength to remember to put my money where my mouth is.

6 comments:

Tori Lennox said...

I'd like to know how taking a shorter shower in the United States is going to help ANYBODY in Africa. That makes no sense whatsoever. If that actress is so interested in helping people, why doesn't she donate money? There are lot of charities that help them a heck of a lot more than a stupid shorter shower would.

Jana said...

"Often when we critique the behavior of others, it's because there's a layer of that same bad behavior in ourselves."

Okay, so you just totally kicked my butt on this one. I just left a rant about other folks' finacial behavior and how they relate it to me, over on my blog. It just hit me when I read the above quote that my griping was just as bad as the offence I accused them of.

*sigh*

Still learning, I guess. Thanks for sharing your insight.

Dapoppins said...

Okay, you surprised me there. I have never heard that Andy Wharhol was a devoted Christian.



here by way of Gatorskunkz..

Delia said...

I hate to judge and I feel like I'm judging here but... what in the world does somebody need with millions or billions of dollars? What good are they getting out of that money? After a while, even blowing it would lose its appeal and then it just becomes a matter of collecting more and more. Why not give it away to those who truly need it?

And it irks me to see a celebrity on television trying to get people to donate to a certain charity when yes they may donate some but what about the other millions they have? Wouldn't it be better put to use buying food for starving children than just sitting in a bank somewhere?

Suzanne said...

I'm never gonna be able to do that shower thing..... That was a fabulous post, Danica.

Danica/Dream said...

Tori, you got me.

Jana, I'm so guilty of it so often.

dapoppins, that was the first I'd heard of it. I thought that was pretty interesting.

Delia, I totally understand. It makes me really mad to see all the excess. We're not the richest people I know, and we're not the poorest, and I know that we could do more. So these people who are hyper wealthy who think their short shower is making a difference really make me mad.

Thanks Suzanne! I'd have a hard time getting there with the shower too.