The End of Religion? September 29, 2009Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: Christianity, church, decline, money, recession
According to a recent article, the current recession is having a hugely negative impact on organized religion. Due to a lack of financial resources, many congregations and religious schools have been forced to close and, according to researcher David Roozen of Faith Communities Today, we may see as many as 10-15% of congregations in the U.S. (Roughly 35,000-50,000) saying that they are in serious financial trouble. According to the article, the effect in Christian circles has been most pronounced with the Mainline churches, though there have also been effects on the Catholic Church and Evangelical groups.
Isn’t it ironic that money is the cause for the fall of churches? Has mammon finally triumphed?
What do you think? How may this change religion in America?
An Unchristian Christian August 20, 2009Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: Christian marketing, Jesus, Mammon, money, poor theology
Does anyone else find themselves perturbed when companies or products advertise themselves as Christian?
Maybe I’ve developed some sort of deep-seated prejudice against such organizations, but I always find myself turning my nose up at any sort of business entity that plasters itself with Jesus. I despise contemporary Christian music and their abysmally bad radio station that plays here. I steer clear of any sort of movie or television show that markets itself to a Christian audience, for I’ve always found that the only thing poorer than their theology is their artistic value. I don’t shop at businesses that trumpet their Christianity or bookstores that specialize in their badly written fiction and terribly dumbed-down theological concepts. I don’t wear Jesus t-shirts or cover my car in fish and poorly thought out bumper stickers. I have no use for any of it.
I guess I’m just very cynical about the whole Christian industrial complex, about using Jesus as a marketing tool in order to sell stuff.
So, I’ll just be an unChristian sort of Christian.
Redefining Success… March 25, 2008Posted by Matt in random.
Tags: money, success, the root of all evil
Did you ever think about what it means to be successful?
Lately I’ve been really noticing something quite bothersome as I talk and listen to those around me – whether they be co-workers or friends or family (don’t worry Mom and Dad, I’m not talking about you). I’ve come to the conclusion that these bits of conversation are not merely words meant to fill the space and chase away the dreaded silence, but rather they seem to be like some endemic plague upon our society.
Why is it that we equate money with success?
Is it a byproduct of living in a capitalist society where greed is looked upon as a virtue?
Is it the rampant materialism and its empty promises of happiness?
Why is it that so many of us measure our lives by little pieces of green paper?
Money, It’s a Gas March 3, 2008Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: corporation, investments, Mammon, money, work
Saturday we were invited to and were able to attend an eighth birthday party for the newly adopted son of some friends of ours from church. While the kids were having a great time running wild in the backyard as children are wont to do, the attending men were relegated to the living room where we were able to converse in relative peace. Two of the attendees’ interests and work were weighted heavily to the financial side, so naturally the conversation quickly turned to matters of dollars and cents and investments and other monetary concerns of that nature.
It did not take very much time for me to figure out just how admittedly ignorant I am to all things financial. Heck, we are less than five years removed from unemployment, government cheese, and using credit just to get by. At this point in our lives, we have no savings, no retirement fund, no investments, but we are doing just fine. Of course, that’s not to say we will never have any of these things, but I think after several years of financial difficulties we’ve come to a realization.
Money is not that important.
Sure, you have to pay your bills, you need to put food on the table and clothes on your back and a roof over your head, but, outside of that, it sort of bothers me to even think about it. I’m thankful for the monetary blessings that we have, but many times it feels like they are just another millstone hung about our necks, dragging us down.
Now that I’ve worked for a good sized corporation for a while, their ultimate motivations have become more and more of a concern. I enjoy what I do – at least when it comes to researching and breaking down numbers, but, it seems as though everything in the corporate world revolves around profitability and defeating our competitors – two things that often cause me to wonder whether or not there is room for someone who identifies themselves as Christian. It weighs on my mind a lot and I often ponder over it – if the company I work for serves Mammon, does that mean I do too?
Eventually, when much of our debt is paid off and we can afford for me to take a major pay cut, I think I want to leave the corporate world. Perhaps the nonprofit arena would be a better fit for my worldview. Or maybe my inner muse will spark me to try and write something of longer form – perhaps even something publishable…
Get Your Wallet November 13, 2007Posted by Matt in politics, war.
Tags: money, poverty, war
According to this article on Yahoo, the economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently sitting at $1.6 trillion. The current population of the U.S. is 300 million, so to date the war has cost $5,333 for each American man, woman, and child.
Meanwhile 36.5 million Americans live below the poverty line and 47 million are without health insurance.
And it goes on and on….
Get Rich or Die Tryin’….for Jesus! September 14, 2007Posted by Matt in god, poverty.
Tags: heifer project, Jesus, money, poverty, prosperity
add a comment
Originally posted 9/14/06
There’s a show on FX that I occasionally catch called 30 Days. Each episode is a sort of mini-documentary done by Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” fame, where he either puts himself or has somebody else live in an uncomfortable situation for 30 days. He has survived on a minumum wage job, lived with illegal immigrants, and lots of other things. One episode in particular involved a woman who was an avowed atheist put into a staunchly conservative Christian home for 30 days. After I watched the episode and pondered on it a little while, I realized that I tended to side with the woman on much of what was talked about over the family. One of the issues in particular had to do with, you guessed it, money and Jesus.
She faithfully attended worship services with the family and was involved in weekly Bible studies throughout the episode. After her first trip to this mega-church, that was not only housed in a multi-multi-million dollar building, but also had ever amenity you can imagine, she came away with one major question – “How could a group of people that claim to follow Jesus justify spending so much money on things like this when people were going hungry in the world.” The husband in the family’s answer was something like, “What, just because we’re Christians we can’t have nice stuff?”
Here in suburban Memphis where we live, there are monstrous churches on seemingly every corner that had to have cost millions upon millions of dollars. There’s one congregation that I know of (and it’s not even one of the biggest ones) that is currently building an $11 million expansion.
I don’t mean to be judgemental, though I know I am too much of the time, but couldn’t all of the money have gone to a better use? There are great charitable organizations out there like Heifer Project that are working to bring some relief to the 1.1 billion people in the world that live in extreme poverty (defined as those living under $1/day). $11 million dollars would buy 22,000 heifers or 88,000 goats or even 44,000 water buffalo for the poorest in our world.
The older I get, the more I realize how screwed up Western thinking really is – especially when it comes to this prosperity gospel that is infiltrating churches of all types.
Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News July 29, 2007Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: doctor, health care, insurance, money
add a comment
Originally Posted 7/29/07
In the last few days, we received the three separate bills for Bekah’s 15 minute procedure to have tubes placed in her ear canal and to have those pesky adenoids removed. First of all, we obtained the fee from the surgeon with amounted to $1,600. Next came the anesthesiologist’s bill for over $400. Then lastly the invoice from the hospital arrived, which added up to a whopping $2,500. So, altogether this short action to improve the quality of life for our 2 year old came to the sum of over $4,500. Now, the good news is that at this time we have great health insurance and our part of the expenses “only” come out to around $700. With another, slightly more extensive surgery, on the near horizon for our other daughter, Rachel, I’m sure that the total of the medical bills owed after insurance by our little family will be at least $1,500. While this would normally be quite a hardship for us, the fact that a neighbor committed vehicular homicide against one of our crape myrtles and then was forced to pay the $1,600 that the 15 year old tree was appraised at came in especially handy.
But this caused me to ponder a bit more on the cost of health care cost in this country. Those people, like us, who are blessed with excellent insurance have little to worry about when it comes to health care. Also, the poorest among us, though they may not always get the best care, they are able to be covered by programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
It’s the ones in the middle who suffer, those who have health insurance that lacks the coverage that may be needed. Though it may be helpful in the case of a catastrophic illness or accident, other unforeseen medical problems are left completely up to the afflicted – which will most likely leave them penniless. We know a little about poor insurance, high costs, and the consequential problems caused by them.
When I finished my undergraduate work back in 2000 and was still living in a delusional world in which the field of education loomed largely in my future, I took a position teaching at a poor, city school that only paid slightly over $20,000 a year and offered an insurance plan that left a lot to be desired. During a much longer seeming year-long tenure at my next stop on the educational employment carousel, my compensation increased a bit, but our insurance coverage was still left lacking. These two years nearly brought us, a young couple just out of college, to the brink of financial disaster mainly due to unforeseen medical costs. During this time, D severly injured her back and we quickly added up $5,000 in medical bills to pay for the steroid shots prescribed by her doctor. Then, soon after that, she was told at the age of 24 that she sorely needed braces and had probably needed them for years prior, so that swiftly added another $5,000 to the amount owed (dental insurances will generally not pay for braces after the age of 18). Then, not long after that debacle, I was feverishly searching for work and,in a very surprising turn of events, we discovered that D was pregnant with Rachel.
So, naturally, we were more strapped for cash than we had ever and hopefully will ever be again. But, the good news today is that, through new higher-paying employment, we have begun to finally dig ourselves out of that deep hole that we were thrust into years ago. We’ve still got a lot of debt built up from these earlier medical misfortunes and from later periods of unemployment as I tried to find a career path in life, but we can see the light today and perhaps someday in the near future we will finally be free of these chains that still bind us.
But not everybody is able to shrug off the albatross of debt placed upon them by unscrupulous people in high places who wield their scepter of power with an unrelenting tyranny – crushing those poor souls unable to pay the rapidly escalating price of health. Maybe Michael Moore isn’t so far off base after all…