Hello again, gentle blog reader!
Have you ever considered what motivates you to give a gift? Here’s something from my Inbox by Chaplain Norris that’s worth pondering:
December 13, 2008
Know what motivates you to give
If you haven’t finished your Christmas list yet, you might consult another list written by Moses. No, not that Moses. This Moses was a Rabbi from the 13th century, Moses Maimonides.
His list — Maimonides’ Eight Degrees of Charity — describes eight levels that motivate our giving to those in need. Read the paraphrased list below along with my comments and ask yourself which one best describes your motives.
1. Giving to the poor unwillingly.
This is what a Tibetan Buddhist named Trungpa Rinpoche called “Idiot compassion.” It’s the kind of giving we do when we can’t bear to see someone suffer. That’s co-dependency and we only do it out of our own need to avoid suffering.
2. Giving to the poor happily, but inadequately.
This happens when the coffee barista asks whether you’d like to add $1 to help AIDS orphans in Africa. We smile generously, because smiles are cheap, and we reply, “Certainly” — even though we know a buck is a woefully “inadequate” for such a momentous task.
3. Giving to the poor after being asked.
This can either be giving pocket change to the homeless or writing a large check at a charity benefit. You do it because in some sense you had to be pressured before you “noticed” the need.
4. Giving to the poor without being asked.
Giving gets a bit harder at this level. You’ve got to be looking for needs. As Kaiser Cement Corp. used to say, “Find a need and fill it.” Truthfully, I usually hover about a “4.”
5. Giving to the poor without knowledge of the recipient, but allowing the recipient to know your identity.
This is giving to someone we don’t know, but we still “allow” them to hear of our generosity, perhaps because we are waiting for the applause.
6. Giving to the poor with knowledge of the recipient but without allowing the recipient to know your identity (anonymous giving).
Some see this as the highest form of giving. Perhaps you give your pastor $200 to buy clothes for the Jones’ family and whisper, “Don’t tell them who gave this gift.” It’s a high form of giving, because it concentrates on the need and doesn’t wait for applause.
7. Giving to the poor without knowledge of the recipient and without allowing the recipient to know your identity.
This gets much harder, because there simply is no “payback.” This might occur where a person runs from a restaurant without paying. You pay the bill and he receives the gift oblivious to your generosity.
8. Investing in a poor person in a manner in which they can become self-sufficient.
This giving is illustrated in that saying, “Give a person a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
This is extremely hard, because “the gift” is really you. It requires that you know your ABCs of charity — Assess the problem. Believe you can effect a change. And implement Charity.
These ABCs are best characterized in the radical giving Jesus introduced in his parable about a poverty-stricken widow who gave all she had, two coins worth half a cent.
In Mark 12, Jesus says, “This widow . . . has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury. For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in . . . all she had on which to live.”
Our current economy might be best benefited from this kind of radical giving. After all it’s the kind of giving that God best demonstrated when he put a baby in a Bethlehem manger 2,000 years ago.
Filed under: thoughts/piks/happenings of the day | Tagged: 8 degrees of charity, Christmas giving, giving gifts in tough times, Holiday giving, Moses Maimonides, radical giving, What motivates you to give? | Leave a Comment »
Hello, gentle blog reader,
As the US economy swirls further and further down the drain, Christmas stories from the Depression Era and other hard economic times might help put things in perspective.
My grandfather, an Italian immigrant, was lucky to have a job for the Union News Co. during the Depression. He sold newspapers and candy at the local train terminal and on the trains themselves. Imagine this: He was considered by his relatives and friends to be a saint because for Christmas, he was able to give an orange to each of the children in our large, extended family. Yes, that’s right–an orange in the stocking was a BIG deal back then. (Sort of the equivalent of getting an Xbox or the Wii today.)
Here’s another story from my Inbox and Chaplain Norris, who suggests savoring each gift and the wrapping paper enveloping it. He also recommends “sacrificial giving”:
By the time I was 13, our Christmas became more about a way to dole out necessities such as socks, underwear and pajamas than about surprises.
By my mid-teens, our family stopped buying Christmas trees. Giving was limited to the exchange of single gifts of necessity on Christmas Eve.
Since many of my childhood Christmases were likely celebrated a little above poverty level, my wife says I shouldn’t mention them in a holiday column. She remembers a different kind of Christmas. While her family wasn’t affluent, her parents – a minister and a schoolteacher – surrounded her and her siblings with multiple packages wrapped in fluffy bows.
I wasn’t there during her childhood, but I know what her Christmases looked like because she’s brought them into our family tradition.
For the past 25 Christmases, our combined families bring a boatload of gifts to the Christmas tree. Traditionally, the person opening the gift is obliged to note the beauty of the paper and comment on the mystery of the contents.
Once unwrapped, bows, paper and ribbons are placed in their respective recycle bins. The whole event can be such a gift-opening marathon that sometimes we’ve actually scheduled a break for lunch and a nap.
It’s not really such an overabundance – it’s just that her family appreciates the color and wrapping of Christmas so much that they wrap every item individually. Say, for instance, a grandchild is given a remote-control car. Normally, my mother-in-law will wrap the car, the batteries and the remote control in three separate boxes.
While my wife says my childhood Christmases sound a bit deprived, I don’t remember them that way. In fact, the recession we find ourselves in has caused me to more deeply cherish the most meaningful gift my father passed to me – faith.
It was a faith recounted many times during our frugal Christmases as my dad read and reread the story of the frightened village girl who heard the news of her pending pregnancy from an angel.
I love how “The Message” translates that moment from the first chapter of Luke’s gospel.
“God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin … Gabriel greeted her:
“‘You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
“‘Beautiful inside and out!’
“‘God be with you.
“She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, ‘Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.’ “
The simple story has a way of reminding us all that the reason for the season isn’t so much about receiving gifts as it is about the giving of ourselves.
For if you celebrate the Christmas story in its full meaning, you are obligated to follow it through to its finale of giving, Easter. For it isn’t until Easter that we can see the original Christmas gift wasn’t gold, frankincense and myrrh but the sacrificial gift of God himself.
So while this Christmas you may not be able to afford the latest game console or the largest diamond, we may want to consider the ways in which we might give of ourselves in sacrificial ways.
Filed under: economy | Tagged: an orange for Christmas, Christmas--Depression, Gift-giving in hard times, Gift-Giving When You Don't Have $$$, meaningful holiday gifts, Meaningful ways to give during the holidays, sacrificial giving, Sacrificial Giving--holidays | Leave a Comment »
“Ahhhhhh….there’s just one more thing”….Peter Falk has died
TV icon Peter Falk, best known for his role in the series “Columbo” has died of Alzheimer’s at age 83. He died on June 23,at home, in Beverly Hills, California, according to a statement released on Friday by Larry Larson, who is a family friend.
Peter Fak has been diagnosed with the most common form of dementia, Azheimer’s disease, in 2009. His personal physician had reported back then that Falk had slipped into dementia after a series of dental surgeries he had suffered in 2007. Dr. Stephen Read stated that is was not clear what the factors in the operation that triggered the illness were. It could have been the anesthetics or something else. The actor’s mental condition worsen over time. Read said that at one point he couldn’t even remember the character that made him famous, detective Columbo.
Click here for more information about Peter Falk’s life and death.
Columbo star Peter Falk’s daughter says her famous father, 81, has Alzheimer’s. So sad. Here’s more on his condition:
By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Last Updated: 12:08AM GMT 17 Dec 2008
Falk has enjoyed a successful Hollywood career with two Oscar nominations Photo: CHANNEL 5
The 81-year-old actor can no longer recognise “familiar people, places or things” and needs full-time custodial care for his health and safety, said Catherine Falk in papers filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Miss Falk is asking the court for a conservatorship, or legal guardianship, to protect her father from “fraud or undue influence”.
The elderly actor “can easily be deceived into transferring away property”, the court documents said.
Miss Falk said her father “forgets events that occurred and remembers events that did not occur”. He was involved in a car accident six months ago when he lost control while driving, sustaining a head injury.
A hearing on the matter is set for January 27.
Earlier this year, Falk was seen behaving erratically in a Beverly Hills street. He appeared disorientated and passers-by called police to help him. However, he was well enough to work until last year, when he shot a film with Diane Ladd and Val Kilmer.
The actor has enjoyed a successful Hollywood career with two Oscar nominations, for Murder, Inc in 1961 and Pocketful of Miracles in 1962.
However, he remains best known for his 35 years as the shabby detective Lieutenant Columbo, a role he began in 1968 and continued to play until 2003.
Other stars to suffer from Alzheimer’s include former US President Ronald Reagan and the actor Charlton Heston. Terry Pratchett, the best-selling author, recently announced he has been diagnosed with the disease. Dementia affects 26 million people worldwide, according to campaign groups.
Commenting on news of Falk’s illness, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust said: “It is tragic to hear that such a talented actor is living with Alzheimer’s, demonstrating that the disease can affect anyone. We must invest in research to find new treatments and cures now to halt this global epidemic.”
Read more about how dental surgery hastened his death: Did Trips to the Dentist Accelerate Alzheimer’s in Peter Falk?
Hello, gentle blog reader,
There’s no recession at Goldman Sachs London, where staff will receive $6.7 billion in bonuses even though the company posted more than $2 billion in losses in this, the last quarter of 2008! Amazingly, the bonuses total about 2/3 of the $10 billion payout the U.S. government paid Goldman Sachs earlier this year.
Why are American taxpayers like us funding Goldman Sachs’ huge bonuses in these hard times? And, how many billion will Goldman Sachs pay its US staff this year?
This is an outrage–I think the US government should demand every dollar (all $10 billion of them) back from Goldman Sachs ASAP!!!
What do you think?
Here’s more on the story:
Goldmine Sachs: As jobless toll soars, investment bank’s bonuses for staff are cut to a MERE £4.3bn
Goldmine Sachs: As jobless toll soars, investment bank’s bonuses for staff are cut to a MERE £4.3bn
By Karl West and Nick Mcdermott
Last updated at 10:50 PM on 16th December 2008
Comments (0) Add to My Stories Investment bank Goldman Sachs is to pay £4.3billion in bonuses to its City workers.
Despite the financial crisis and the spectre of soaring unemployment, staff at the bank will get an average of £142,600 each.
The international group, which is estimated to have 5,400 employees in London, is already nicknamed ‘ Goldmine Sacks’ for the large extra payouts it awards to its star performers.
Yesterday the firm posted its first loss for almost a decade. And earlier this year it was forced to accept a £6.5billion lifeline from the U.S. government after falling prey to the economic crisis.
Goldman Sachs is estimated to have 5,400 employees in London (Fleet Street branch pictured)
Now, an amount equivalent to two thirds of that aid will be paid to its workers as bonuses.
The news emerged as experts in Britain warned of a ‘middle-class recession’ with hundreds of thousands of white collar managers expected to lose their jobs over the next year.
Goldman’s bonus plans come as anger grows among taxpayers at the way banks – in particular those that have received billions in bailout funds – have failed to pass on cash or interest relief to customers.
Criticising Goldman’s, LibDem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: ‘It’s absolutely outrageous. It’s clear that these people have learned nothing from the financial crisis. It shows the greed and lack of sensitivity – and ultimately stupidity – in gambling behaviour which caused this crisis can continue indefinitely.
‘It is rewarding the taking of excessive risk and we know this caused the downfall of much of the financial markets.’
Labour MP John McFall, chairman of the Treasury select committee, questioned the wisdom of such a large payout during an economic crisis in which the banks played a central role.
Vince Cable says the bonuses for staff are ‘outrageous’
He said: ‘Is Goldman Sachs going to the taxpayer to get help in order to keep its staff bonuses at the same levels and prevent them from experiencing the problems that the rest of the economy – and normal people – are suffering during the current crisis?’
Goldman said its ‘pay and perks’ pool fell to £7.1billion for the full year, down from last year’s record £13.2billion.
The bonus portion of this, estimated at 60 per cent of total pay, dropped to £4.3billion but is still worth an average of £142,598 per employee.
Overall, each worker is likely to suffer a 45 per cent cut in average pay to £237,470.
Goldman began telling staff who would be getting what in their January pay packet as it revealed its first quarterly loss since floating on the Stock Exchange nine years ago.
Among those not included in the bonus distribution is chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and six deputies who gave up their additional rewards this year.
The bank has about 400 partners who typically share a bonus pool worth about 20 per cent of the total payout, which in good years can mean bonuses in £5million – £10million bracket for top performers.
However, big fee earners can make much more. In 2006, one star employee, Driss Ben-Brahim, is believed to have banked a £50million bonus – a record for a single City trader.
Those days are a distant memory now, however, as the big merger and acquisition deals have dried up.
Wall Street’s financial titans have been brought to their knees by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Goldman has had to take massive write downs on the value of its toxic investments in property and real estate.
The financial group made a loss of £1.4billion in the fourth quarter. Goldman said it had cut 2,500 staff in the quarter, bringing total numbers employed by the bank down to just over 30,000.
It is thought the bank laid off about 600 of its 6,000 workers in the City of London as part of the cull.