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Is Charity Even Possible?

health and wealth gospel imagesWhile Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland and others fill our minds with feel good self-esteem and reaping God’s riches, the truth of reality is a bit tougher to swallow. In the Philokalia, Evagrios the Solitary is speaking to those which desire the monastic life. However, his words should be heeded by people lured into the trap of “planting a seed” in megachurch budgets and televangelist bank portfolios.

Be careful then, and do not desire wealth for giving to the poor. For this is another trick of the evil one, who often arouses self-esteem and fills your intellect with worry and restlessness.

True charity doesn’t seek a reward from God or any other source. One of the principle virtues is long-suffering and perseverance in the time of trial. We aren’t supposed to persevere to get more stuff in support of an economy that runs on the fuel of debt and consumerism. We are supposed to persevere because it is the unselfish and right thing to do.

Temperance and chastity aren’t exactly the strong-suits of US citizens. As Andrew Greeley says in this must read piece on our greatest sin,

The most serious spiritual problem in the country today is reckless and untrammeled greed.

Giving only to get. If that’s what life is all about we will suck each other dry of resources and end up fighting over what is left. The sad reality is that the wealthiest bureaucrats are fighting over rich resources while spreading the debt over the public. Government is another vehicle for an economic system that is morally neutral. This economic system is about investing money to make money. That’s all it is.

I’ve always said that if you want to measure the ethics of any corporation even a church, just look at the budgets. If life is an investment in material comfort, then perhaps we are spiritually dead or dying.

The good news is that we can choose to be charitable to one another. How about today we try to do one thing:

Do something for someone else without telling them or anyone else about it and expect absolutely nothing in return. Record how that felt and share it if you want to.

Imagine a culture where we all acted this way towards each other not because we had to, but because we wanted to. Now that’s an economy with some moral fiber.

About Andrew Tatusko

Secularization, critical pedagogy, sometimes agnostic, politics, and a ton of running. Penn State is definitely not responsible for what I say.

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