Monthly Archives: December 2007

Maybe "beggars" can be "choosers?"

Wendy posted this news story earlier this week, and I’ve been meaning to write about it:

Mom insulted by hamper short on holiday fare

What was supposed to be Christmas dinner sat on Karen Morin’s kitchen floor Thursday. The disabled single mother of seven didn’t know what to do with the canned, wrapped and boxed food she received in a Salvation Army Christmas hamper this year.

[...]She eagerly awaited the hamper’s arrival on Wednesday.

But this year, she says she received food from someone’s “root cellar.”

Inside the boxes that arrived was an assortment of non-perishables that were way beyond the expiry date.

“Mom, this expired before I was born,” one of her kids, who is 12 years of age, said after pulling a can of soup out of one of the boxes.

There were 15 Halloween candies, a medium-sized ham, 10 packages of macaroni and cheese, 10 lbs of pasta and nine boxes of Pop Tarts — not what Morin calls Christmas fare.

Read the rest of the article here, where it also lists what else was included in the food box.

I was intrigued by this article and the responses that Wendy and some others had to the woman complaining about the food donation. Who’s really the “grinch” in this story?

Some would say the role of the green-eyed monster belongs to the woman who received the charity. After all, why is she complaining about a gift? Shouldn’t she be thankful for what she’s received, and in turn, be resourceful with whatever her food hamper contains? By her complaining about the contents of her food donations, is she diminishing the charitable acts of the givers? Is she too busy acting entitled to better material goods rather than being grateful for what she received?

I don’t think so.

I’m not out to lambaste the efforts of community organizations and groups that work together to produce these Christmas hampers of food. I’m sure none of the organizations would willingly condone this type of donation, and would also work to rectify any wrongdoings to the recipients.

However, I do think that this woman had a right to be disappointed and complain about what she received, despite the fact that the hamper was considered “charity.” (I’m still not sure that going straight to the presses was the most ideal way of resolving the issue — but at least this way the issue would get some public attention and hopefully wouldn’t be repeated again for another family next year)

I don’t think that complaining about the contents of her hamper shows a materialistic dark side to her or her family — I think the “grinch” role is more deserving to whoever or whatever group put this hamper together and allowed dented cans and expired food to be included within its contents. Those contents alone send a message not of love and giving, but one that is both insulting and uncaring.

I don’t think that any charity is necessarily good charity. If I give money to homeless people, knowing that they’ll use it solely to buy drugs and/or alcohol, then I’m not really helping them out of the situation they’re in. If, instead, I buy them a meal, work in a soup kitchen, or financially support a local help agency, then my giving of charity is doing what it’s supposed to — help, not harm.

The woman who complained about the contents of her holiday hamper had some legitimate concerns about the contents of her “gift” — and because she had received this type of service before, she knew what type of standards to expect in whatever was included in her food collection.

I think the fault here lies not in the protesting woman and family (who some may label “ungrateful”) but rather in the people who put this basket together. What’s the point of helping someone out if you’re only willing to give them your leftovers (or worse yet, items that even you wouldn’t consume)?

I think this could be a really good learning opportunity for different groups who do take the time to donate items to the community. Rather than painting this scenario in an ungrateful, grinchlike light, I think we should talk about what it means to give to someone else in need — and discuss what authentic giving looks like.

I feel it in my toes?

Happy Christmas!

Please rise for our Sunday hymn

The most wonderful Christmas card of the year

So far I’ve gotten 2 of them on Facebook, one from my sis and another from a friend. I suppose they know my sense of humor!

Ichthus, redefined?

Rupert Brooke

Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat’ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.

Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!

One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.

We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud! — Death eddies near –
Not here the appointed End, not here!

But somewhere, beyond Space and Time,
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,

Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.

Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;

Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.

And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.

[encountered in The Varieties of Scientific Experience, by Carl Sagan]

Christmas Rhapsody

“’cause Christmas really matters…”

Queen meets Christmas: Christmas Rhapsody by Pledge Drive.

Jerry says it’s his new favorite carol.


A New Kind of FAQ

For the last few months I’ve been reading an interesting blog called Leaving Eden. It’s written by an atheist student who is finishing up his/her degree at Wheaton College, a popular evangelical school in the states (and also, I think, where Billy Graham is an alumni). The student’s identity is incognito on the blog, as he/she hasn’t decided to be publicly outed in the Christian environment.

I’ve enjoyed reading her blog (from now on I’m calling the author a “her,” because I’m tired of his/her), mainly because I can remember my school days at the two Bible colleges I attended, years ago. Whenever I revisit those days in my head, I try to position myself (ideologically) as I am now compared to where I was then. Somehow I don’t think I would have been able to play the part as well as Leaving Eden is (in writing papers from a Christian perspective), if only because I didn’t necessarily fit the part of Bible college, even when I was still a Christian! There were always issues of doctrine and theology that I could never fully embrace, all of which helped to shape my eventual lack of belief.

Anyway, Leaving Eden recently posted a FAQ to answer some of the same questions that often get asked about her deconversion. As I read it, I was reminded of the fact that these are often the same questions/attitudes that are directed toward me and my own unbelief.

Examples of some Leaving Eden’s FAQ:

  • Were you turned away from Christianity because of the Christians you encountered? Christians are sinful and don’t always represent Christ, you know.
  • Were you really a Christian?

A few of my own questions/sentiments to add:

  • You’ve never truly experienced God/You’re unable to know God/That isn’t MY God you’re critiquing
  • Why are you so angry?
  • Why do you keep talking about religion and faith? You’ve got no right to criticize. Just get over it (read: shut up) and leave us alone.
  • If you don’t believe in God, what is your basis for hope and/or morality?
  • So, you must think I’m stupid for having belief.
  • You shouldn’t celebrate Christmas if you don’t believe in Christ.

These are just a few of the questions and attitudes I’ve run into since I’ve outed myself as faithless. However, what I find even more interesting than above is how some of my past friends have completely dropped our friendship after my personal revelation. It’s almost like I’m now some type of enigmatic pariah, where some friends (and even some family) are afraid to personally broach the subject of faith with me. Which is sad, but I suppose understandable?

Regardless, the freedom and authenticity I’ve personally felt since “outing” myself is something I would never turn the clock back on — no matter what questions, attitudes, or lost relationships I’ve experienced as a result of it.