Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Christian Rant with Unsubtle Hints About Funding

Am I ever longwinded today...I think I've got "blogorrhea." Here's another comment that outgrew the Link Log.

I have one quibble with this Christian rant. (Maybe if I were a left-winger's teenaged offspring I'd feel "triggered" to rush to a safe space and curl up and wail; since I'm a writer I feel "triggered" to add a rant of my own.)


It does not recognize, within itself, the seed of elitist bigotry against those who have less--that is, if I really want to believe that God is good and life is fair and people can earn whatever they want, then when I meet someone whose life is obviously not fair I'm going to have a need to suspect that that's the person's own fault. If the person did something and didn't get paid for it (which is my own personal story) that's because the person "should have" done something different--like knowing in advance that that person wasn't going to pay, or knowing about a loophole in the law that that person could exploit, or whatever; I've heard that many times from certain crippled members of the Living Body of Christ--"crippled" here meaning "in some way unable to give up fast food and cable television in order to support any good work that either individual Christians or their churches are doing." Or, if the person is unable to work, that's because the person "should have" been in a different place at a different time, or maybe chosen different ancestors in order to have been born with different genes. We have to beware of this line of thought, because what goes around comes around...the Bible says that God hears the curses of the widow and the fatherless, and I personally, being both widowed and fatherless, wish anyone who's blamed me for having been cheated out of money the full experience of losing everything and everyone they care about, most particularly including their health.

But, as far as +Andria Perry went in what she wrote...she's right. Someone else's having something is not the reason why you don't have the same thing, or better. If you personally agreed to do X in exchange for Y and your complaint is that a specific rich person is still clutching that Y that s/he owes to you, then you have a right to say that, e.g., Arvind Dixit should be foraging in dumpsters if he wants to eat until he's paid what he owes you. I have a right to say that, and I also have a right to say that my husband's estate, considered separately from me if the state of Maryland didn't want to recognize our marriage, owed me more than his estate was even worth and his ex-wife should have been put to work on a chain gang to make up the full amount. And anyone who wants to educate me after the fact about all the holes in the laws of Maryland that I learned about only as a widow should be required to study Maryland law, at their own expense and as a full-time occupation, until they've come up with a way to reimburse me.

(And, by the way, when women marry rich men for their money...there's no need to assume that the relationships were abusive in order to imagine that those women well and truly earned their money. Most of those men were ill before they died. Being a sick person's private "caretaker" is hard work. Not being that is a load of guilt that may be even worse than the work in the long run. But even when widows weren't their departed husbands'--or wives'--private nurses, another thing that's hard to imagine is to what extent they made it possible for the rich spouse to earn, keep, and invest as much as s/he did. My husband earned much more money than I did, but I was the one who gave him odd jobs after he'd gone bankrupt, so that he was able to earn that money!)

Otherwise...Joel Osteen has a big house because he's written a lot of books that a lot of people have bought. Has that done you or me any harm? No; if anything he's put some money into circulation so that it might, if we happened to be in the right place, have done us some good. Why waste any time or energy resenting him? If you find his books helpful, buy them, and if not, don't buy them; why blame him for the fact that a lot of people choose to buy his books? You could use the energy to write your own book.

I've never found it difficult to understand jealousy of someone's attention or affections, or competition to do something better than someone else. I can sort of imagine that someone telling a member of his virtual congregation, "I wouldn't send money to Joel Osteen, because he already has more than you have," might be motivated by jealousy or even honest disagreement more than by envy. I don't, however, get the point of a lot of the envy people express.

I think the whole Trump tribe come in for a lot of envy--and easy to hate though Donald Trump is, envying his money is hating him for the wrong reasons. He made that pile of money by doing some things that were unethical, yes, and also by doing some things that were legitimate and reasonable. He did not prevent other people from doing the same things, good or bad.

Paris Hilton may be an idjit and the whole Kardashian clan may be tacky and Nancy Pelosi may go down in history as the cheerleader for the worst single piece of legislation in the history of the English-speaking world, but does that mean they should give away all their money? Hello...none of them is all that stupid.

I'm all in favor of the thought pattern that goes "The best-selling book, record, fad item, whatever, has generated enough revenue for the celebrity author, musician, designer, whatever already. I'll buy the best-selling book secondhand and pay the full price for a new copy of this other book by this unknown, deserving new writer." That does make sense...but it's about supporting the person who you believe has done something to earn a little more, not hating the person who already has a little more.

I'm also all in favor of the thought pattern that goes "I'm already earning a decent income from one thing I do or have done. I also enjoy using money to help others so, if I do something else, I'll dedicate the proceeds to this or that good cause." Ayn Rand and her "Objectivist" personality cult used to be famous for attacking that thought pattern. I actually think, after careful study of her life and work, that Rand did send some of her own money to people who had less; her word for it, in her English As a Foreign Language, was honor. She wrote in favor of giving away money "for honor." She expected U.S. audiences to understand that phrase better than many of them did. If you perceive a difference between an "objective" morality based on honor as distinct from a "sentimental" morality based on cultural cliches, you should understand it, easily. You know you're giving someone something "for honor" because you're supporting what the person is doing, rather than enmeshing the person in a relationship of dependency.

I've known people, not all of whom were even rich, who managed to find quite a lot of ways to give away money "for honor." (Feels tempted to name names, decides that might embarrass a few people who've outlived the incomes on which they used to do this...self for one.)

The people who seem to have provoked Andria Perry's rant, however, aren't likely to know anything about those people who do give away money "for honor"--because they aren't likely ever to receive anything given on those terms. Anybody who might, e.g., choose to support this web site because you like something posted here, is unlikely to have money left over to buy more alcohol for somebody who sits around drinking and expressing envy rather than writing, painting, mowing lawns or even playing the blasted stock market for pity's sake.

This web site has called out, and continues to call out, rich people who appear (from here) as if they could be doing more to take care of their own in Michigan. (Helping people recover from a large-scale disaster does not even come under the heading of "giving for honor." It comes under "taking care of your own," because even if your house wasn't affected by the disaster, your local economy was.) This web site is not expressing admiration of everything Dolly Parton has ever done in her lifetime when we say that her response to last autumn's forest fires provides a good example to people like Michael Moore and Dan Gilbert.

If Dolly Parton or anyone else were just handing out twenty-dollar bills to every bum outside the local liquor store, that would not be a good example to anybody. That would be...about as stupid as the sheer bulk of the Welfare State causes it to be, only less sustainable.

This time last year I invited people to fund a book I wanted to write on Indiegogo. One e-friend who replied directly was Neil Gaiman, who is a rich celebrity writer and deserves to be one. His reply was an invitation to everyone to help fund another book project that might or might not have been better than mine, but was certainly closer to the spirit of Gaiman's own kind of writing. Obviously that wasn't the response I would have liked. It has not, however, caused me to hate or envy Gaiman. (Even if he were in the demographic toward which my book would have been marketed, I wouldn't hate him just for liking a different book project better than mine.) There are thousands of poor and obscure writers in the world; which one(s) a successful writer chooses to sponsor doesn't affect my reactions to the successful writer's work, at all. You're exactly as likely to find links to Gaiman's books or blog here as you were two years ago.

But some of the gripers aren't even looking for sponsors for anything they're doing. Sometimes they even try to suggest, or believe for themselves, that they're griping on behalf of other people and not themselves. "If I had Warren Buffett's money, I'd help all the needy orphans in [insert name of famine zone]." Would you really? Instead of helping people you actually know? You'd abandon your family and home town and move to that famine zone? Or would you sit around like the typical rich American and write a cheque for $25 a month to some organization that may or may not actually be feeding any orphans? How could you tell? These are not just rhetorical questions; some people do think about them and have valid answers to them...but most of the people saying "If I had his money, I'd do things my way" are merely feeding energy to the Deadly Sin of Envy.

So, this web site now recommends that you do two things:

1. (Duh.) If your income for the year 2016 exceeded $12,000, support this web site. There's an e-mail at the bottom of your screen. Send an e-mail to that address to receive the Paypal address to which you can send payment for a subscription. You can also find me on Fiverr and pay for a guest post, or sponsor a post here, through their system...and it's called Fiverr.com because gigs offered through that site start at US$5.

2. If you do get into that thought process that starts with "If I had George Soros' money, I'd give it to...", reflect on a few questions:

* Why are you even thinking about his money, instead of your own money that you're planning to earn?

* How are you proposing to earn the amount of money you would like to use in the way you're thinking about doing?

* The book linked below is mainly about donating time rather than money to charities that do international relief and humanitarian work. It took about five years for three primary authors, four writers' assistants, and several dozen correspondents foreign and domestic, to write. Last time I looked, the web site on which it was updated had fallen apart, so some of the information is out of date. If you seriously feel called to tell people which charities they should support and why, are you up for the challenge of continuing the work these writers began?

* If not that, is your project comparably cool? Is it something you imagine I'd fund if I were to inherit a few million dollars? (Yes, that's still possible.) Is it something you imagine some readers might want to fund, or something you imagine some of the writers this web site follows might want to fund? If not, how can you make it that kind of thing? That done, why not choke off the Deadly Sin of Envy and just tell us about your project?

Envy is such a tacky Deadly Sin. Unlike sloth, gluttony, lust, and anger it offers no payoff of pleasure...and it's easy to resist, just by going after what you really want!