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September 08, 2006


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And yet Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine. He was portrayed in the Gospels as forever partying with tax collectors and harlots. The joke is on those who insist we substitute grape juice for sherry in the cup of his blood. Many years ago, I also drew inspiration from the nature writings of Aquinas, of all people. He wrote about the natural world in a way that might have inspired Francis’s love for his “sister birds” and “brother moon.”

I’d say the god you describe likes his meat rare. Philanthropy is the libation we pour anticipating the moment when he will come and empty our cellars. If we’ve been successful in life, we might, in our pangs, have enough time to drag our SUVs and home entertainment systems with us into our graves.

Thank you, Albert. This was a personal post launched out on the net. I almost dreaded the responses. Thank you for amplifying the thoughts so empathetically. I worked once with a self made person, blue collar, who had made it hugely in a marketing business. He gave away tens of millions to a school he had not attended, though his daughter was enrolled. Asked why, here was his answer, spoken on a golf course.

"God gave me this. If I don't give back it will piss him off, and he will take it back."

Giving was a libation, propitiation of the vengeful God he worshipped. I think that impulse is very deep. Grace and good fortune impose an obligation to pass the gift on, to meet a gift with a gift, or give back. "To thos e to whom much is given, from them much is expected." "Those the gods would destroy they first make successful." God demands sacrifice, an offering. A sacrificial gift. And money is just one example.

This whole primal or mythic or moral element in giving is totally neglected by those who prate about metrics, or results, or double-bottom lines, or the joy of giving, or self-expression, or even "family values."

"He gave his only begotton son." And He won't settle for some sophistry about how getting rich is good for others. He wants your right lung, and will take them both if you want to keep the first.

When I see you guys exchange like this, I wonder, "What is it like?"

Maybe it's a jazz. Maybe.

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