Saturday, January 27, 2007

If I Had a Hundred Dollars . . .

My friend Al Hsu tagged me with an intriguing question, something along the lines of:

If I had a hundred bucks free and clear, how would I use it redemptively?

It's a tempting thought: that's something like twenty-five lattes, four hundred chances to rescue a fair maiden from Donkey Kong, four hundred shaves and haircuts (assuming, of course, that a shave + a haircut = two bits). But none of those microenterprises is particularly redemptive. So I've got to dig a little deeper.

Given my initial gut reaction, my first reasoned response is to get rid of the money as quickly as possible. Hand it over to Habitat for Humanity, or Doctors Without Borders, or the Presbyterian Church (USA). I know myself well enough to know that money meant for a redemptive purpose very easily becomes money I will use now for my own purposes and one day replace with money to be used for a redemptive purpose. The sooner I relieve myself of the burden of redemptive money, therefore, the better.

But it's also far too easy to buy myself out of the problems that plague the world around me, to say "Here's a hundred bucks. Now leave me alone while I tend to my blog." So I'm most inclined to use the money to facilitate a meaningful encounter between myself and a world in need. I heard the other day about a church in Oregon that occasionally takes offerings of "socks and smokes," which are the two most frequent requests from homeless people in their area. People from the church then hand out socks and smokes indiscriminately, leading them into experiences of solidarity with area homeless, and ultimately binding the destinies of the church and the homeless together.

Since the death of Pope John Paul II, I've been thinking a lot about solidarity, a political movement in his home country of Poland and a theological theme of his for the late-twentieth century. A hundred bucks is a small price to pay for an expression of solidarity with people it's otherwise too easy for me to ignore. So I think at this point I'd have to say that if I had a hundred dollars, I'd blow it all on socks and cigarettes.

OK, who to tag. I'll say Carolyn (like "Bono"), Mr. Steve and the Sarcastic Lutheran.

8 comments:

Rick said...

Didn't get tagged, but I'll bite. I think you gave the $100 worth of latte's the shaft. Either $100 worth of latte's one a day, to give you an excuse to hang out at the coffeeshop and start conversations? Or $100 worth of latte's for friends, maybe yours and one other at a time, and walking the city streets together pondering deep things of life? Never sell the redemptive power of good coffee short, sir.

Pete Juvinall said...

That's a good point. There's a redepemtive value to relationships and facilitating interactions with people that you want to get to know better would be redemptive; community is what we're called to after all right?

I'll go with that answer :)

Jenn said...

As a Sbux missionary, I say hear! hear! to all of the above. Glad to know some people "get" that coffee is missional.

Still, maybe I'd use $100 to partially fund a trip to somewhere like Louisiana so I could get my hands dirty helping out by doing something different than usual.

Anonymous said...

Did you catch the Oprah show where she handed out cash cards to the entire audience and the ability to film their use of the monies. It is really an impressive show. So much good was done throughout the country and beyond.

Amazing what one can do with a little and the incentive to do for others.

Mr Steve said...

Thanks for giving me an excuse for shaking the cobwebs off the blog. It was sort of like have a health club membership. I wanted to go but felt like I needed to get in shape before I could go. I wanted to blog, but didn't have anything that was really good to blog about.

Jenn said...

Speaking of $100, did you recently buy a Rodney Clapp book on half.com?

David A. Zimmerman said...

Was it $100 on half.com? That's crazy! Not I.

Jenn said...

Oops. More ambiguous wording. Money (train of thought chugging along) buying stuff (chug chug chug) half.com.

Okay.

I sold a book (for far less than $100--but that would've been nice) to some zimmerperson there, and I thought it could conceivably be you or one of yours.