Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wealth in the Directed Middle

I have a question, what do you do with your money? Unequivocally, I am richer than 95+% of the people in the world. In America, I'm probably in the top 40%. I listened to an awesome speech about the wealth and power America has, and I know I'm AVERAGE, so that includes me. What is my responsibility to the world? Look at King Solomon, built a palace that required its own zip code. Then you have a couple who are struck down because they didn't share their wealth. From a Christian perspective, I think 2 Timothy wraps it up for me... "God gave you things to enjoy" How much joy should you have? If you spend $1000 on a new TV, you could have also floated a Bolivian for a year (ref. Mat 26:6-13). I know it's a guilt trip, but if it didn't make you feel that way, would you be a communal part of humanity or just here for yourself? Consider this, if "you" were living off of air dropped rice and wheat and get super excited about the prospect of catching a fish or killing a wild animal for meat, wouldn't "you" be pissed if you took a tour of your house? What did you do to make that money? Let's put it this way, you are AVERAGE. Yes, you may excel at sales, health care, management, etc., but as I said last week, it's just a gift and consequence that you're here instead of "there".

So, I have three questions for you to help me wrestle with this idea and that from the last few entries.

1) Where's the line?

For example, is it non-sense to refuse to eat that extra 1000 calories that could support a young child somewhere? I mean that in the broad sense, that is, if you didn't buy as much food, the prices would come down and they would be cheaper to send to places without such easy access to food. Maybe if we all did that, world hunger would at least have some of the pangs taken away. If you think that's too abstract, ask yourself is it too much to turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth, though it may only save a few gallons? Probably not for the latter, but they both save you money and should have a similar world impact. Obviously, since you cut a couple calories or turned the spigot off for a bit isn't going to single handedly change the global economy, but the situation is like voting... it only works when the masses participate.

Let's consider the other end of the spectrum; similar to the biblical examples given. Imagine you received a billion dollars via any means, (e.g., investing, real estate, multiple lotteries) and built yourself a 64,000 square foot summer home which cost $250 million. Now, say you felt like Mr. Buffet one day and gave away $750 million to charities. Was that a good moral decision?

Now for the middle, where most of us are (average for US). What's your responsibility? Do you shirk every level of gifting and leave it to the Buffet's, or feel guilty by not going all in. Do you use the mystical 10% as "I'm doing my part"? But you know as well as I do that giving 10% on a $125k income is much easier that doing the same on a $35k income due to the minimum cost of living.

2) Is the line different for different people? If it is laid on some people's heart to live meagerly and give everything above destitution and others to live in middle to upper middle class opulence and give some nominal easy-to-do dollar amount, can both be acceptable behavior? What if those two people share the same bank account?

3) Lastly, and in the same thread, is it okay to strive for more? If you work to have a bigger home, nicer car, more land, fatter retirement account, how much should you work? How far is too far, how little is too little?

Is the line the same for everyone? Does God make us specifically different so we have to deal with each other and create cosmic balance? Is there really suppose to be one way we should all be? Should we instead be complacent in our little niche however God directs us, but how does that fit with a bleeding heart toward the have-nots?

This is where the last few blogs have led to, be sure to pipe up.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Have you ever thought about average? The average American eats 2700 calories and throws away another 1000 a day, one person is born in the US an average of 8 seconds, the average American driver has 1.2 cars. How about more serious ones... the average American income is nearly 200 times that of Sierra Leone, the average US marriage lasts less than 8 years, the average American takes 7.5 medications spending a total of $200 billion, a child under 5 in Afghanistan is 32 times more likely to die than one in the US, I used 15 times more water today than a person in a developing country; however, only 40% of the developing country's water is potable which really translates into me using ~38 times more potable water; to boot, some of my water had to be purified via the most stringent filtration method THEN had minerals added back in to suit my taste and all that for less than a quarter a bottle.
Here's the truth, you are average. You are not above average, nor are you below. You may make more money than average, you may stay married longer than most, you may take less meds, and always have food in your belly, but there are other columns that bring you back to average. Take me for example, I may make more money than most people, but I pollute more than most people. I may have a sense of complacency, but I can find myself disconnected from friends by not investing time into those relationships.
So why do we feel special? Why are we somehow entitled to more and better? Why do I feel like I'm not talking to me? Why do you feel like I'm not talking to you? =)
Satiety, not in that funny phoenetic way, but in that realization that where you are at is good. Know why? Because average is good. How happy are you? Did you know that paraplegics rank more happy than normal Americans? Let me rephrase, paraplegics are happier than average. I have no idea why, but it says something about envy.
Let me ask a question, what makes you happy? Is it your good job, your 2.5 kids, that big TV receiving the Bengals in High Def? So if having that is your happiness, can someone who is homeless, child barren, or without electricity be happy? My opinion is that Christ came for everyone, not just overly blessed me, not just me a fortunate birth in well-to-do capitalist society. I'm not different than someone in Sierra Leone. Knowing THAT is to understand being Average. Also, tell me if you lost what you had, say because China calls in the US debt or you lose your job because your industry is slowing or a loved one passes on or a car accident disables you or terrorists make 20 million people on the West coast homeless because of dirty bomb, would you still be happy? Where do you hold your happiness? I'd like to think my happiness is in spite of my circumstances not because of them; though I admit to falling short on that every time I get disillusioned. What about you?

Friday, May 11, 2007

the green, green grass... over there

This topic is absolutely melancholy for me. I've been blessed to know complacency; what it feels like, tastes like, it's fullness and bubbling joy. But, every now and then, evil works its way into daydreams... You've probably had the same ones. The ones that you wouldn't share with anyone because they cut to the sinew like razors. You're pissed at your spouse and you drift off thinking about divorce... you're stressed with (insert your source here) and think about being killed in a car accident... you've cried either on the surface or deep inside from that pain whose wound gets scratched by a smell, ethereal de ja vous or untimely anniversary and wondered what would your life be like without it.
Have you ever even shared these things with the textured ceiling as it stares back at you or the tail lights of your traffic jam partaker? Probably not, but why? Is it the ridiculousness of doing it; "I must be crazy to consider speaking this horrific thing to the thin air"? The wall doesn't mock you like a monitor to a writer with block.
For me, Christ is that slow moving, flashing red light in the night sky. Sometimes, I tell it to Him... He simply listens, gives me refresh in that fathom of my mind, separating me from that thing. The trick for me is to realize that the only thing between me and reprieve of this burden is pride. "I can deal with it. I'm a big boy with broad shoulders." Truth is; no, I'm not. I'm a fleshy spare tire, an easily crushed spirit, 70% water. I'm average.
"The grass is not greener over there, just watered more" - fjwii. As a great friend similarly put it, "You are of no use where you are not". What does this mean? Take joy in those hardships because they are essential to character. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (1Tim.4:7). However, if you want eternal reward for these hardships, Believe! This probably requires you to know you are average, broken and not a consequence of your surroundings, but an error landfill. It definitely requires love for Him.

Where do you fall on this? Is it different depending upon your season? Are you driven to clear your head with drugs, alcohol, abuse, inanity or be quidnunc? Walk with me.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I have to admit... my wife has turned me on to blogging. I enjoy the therapeutic nature of blogging. It's nice to lay it all out in words; capture those random, ephemeral thoughts and place them pseudo-prudently for your circle of family and friends to share and advise on.
Let me introduce you to my blog, Wonder Bread. To explain, Wonder bread is a baseball saying we would shout out to anyone trying to focus in the field. When I would pitch, I could hear this phrase coming from right field, 3rd base and occasionally from the pine (that's the bench for you non-hardballers). I loved how it works. To test it, say the phrase out loud, "Wonder bread.... Wonder bread..."; it's relaxing, calming, mind-clearing=) I've always since associated it with serenity, complacency (because it counters anxiety), etc. Since my reinvention into a life with Christ, it's added a fathom of depth. I won't explain further, but leave the rest to your understanding wherever you are in your journey.
The URL contains the most important things to us; love and time. God is love (1 John 4:16) and He has bound us by Time. Herein these broad spectra will lie the topics of my discussions. Many will be light and airy, however, many more will be deep. Anyone who knows me can see the latter being more prevalent than the former, time will tell. Often, I'll request help, i.e. love.
So, let's walk together. "Wonder Bread!"