Posted by: Dan | June 7, 2007

Responses to Reflections on Sharing

In my (unfortunately, still ongoing, but not recently updated) series on “Christianity and Capitalism,” I made an appeal for Christian to rethink the nature of sharing, and I encouraged Christians to think about charity in ways that would move charity outside of forms of economic exchanges that are encouraged within the structures of capitalism (cf. http://poserorprophet.livejournal.com/109249.html). Thus, I encouraged Christians to give to all who ask of them, for example, to those who ask for change on the street.

I would like to highlight two of the responses I received from that post.

The first was from a fellow, “Craig,” who saw my post as an opportunity to get something from me. If I saw it as my Christian duty to give to all who ask of me, Craig figured that he would ask me for $500. Consequently, if I didn't share with Craig, that would allow him (and others) to toss my argument out the window. Unfortunately (perhaps for both Craig and I?), I didn't have $500 to share with Craig, but I sent him $20, while noting that I could never remember any person on the street seriously asking me for such a sum of money (why is it, I wondered, that those who already are among the “haves” demand so much more than those among the “have-nots”?).

The second response I received was from a young woman who requested anonymity. Although my community house has never made requests for money (we are self-sustaining at the moment), this young woman decided that, rather than asking for money, she would share some of her money with us and, after some dialogue (both with her and within my community), this woman sent us a gift of $500 — ironically, the exact amount that Craig had requested. The money, she said, was to go towards our community dinners, or gifts for the working girls (she even used the example of buying them smokes! It's pretty rare to find Christians who think that giving out smokes is an act of love — but it certainly is a fantastic way of connecting with people in our neighbourhood). Needless to say, my housemates and I were all rather floored by her generosity. And so, I thought it best to publicly acknowledge her gift and say, “thank you!”

It is interesting putting these two examples alongside of each other. One person reads a reflection on sharing and thinks, “Hey, maybe I can get something in light of this argument,” and another person reads the same reflection and thinks, “Hey, maybe I can give something in light of this argument.”

However, I suspect that both responses are a bit exceptional. I tend to think that the majority of us read such reflections and arguments and think “Neato!” …and that's about it. I suspect that reflections on sharing generally don't impact what most of us do in any way at all.

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