|Worshiping Yenom and Serving Knab|
|From "SHARING" #006, December 1996
WORSHIPING YENOM AND SERVING KNAB (Some American Gods)
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money." (Luke 16:13 NAB)
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV)
"Americans were split 6-to-4 as to whether or not they agreed with the saying, "You cannot serve both God and money." (The Lutheran magazine quoting a 1994 Harris Survey)
In another survey (1995 Times Mirror) quoted in the magazine, 83% of Americans said they believe "we will be called before God on Judgment Day to answer for our sins." The same survey quoted in bold above revealed 70 percent of Americans consider their "financial situation to be a reflection of God's regard" for them. Since Jesus was the one who said "You cannot serve both God and money," it strikes me that Americans in general, and American Christians in particular, could very possibly be in for one hell of a surprise if those responding to the Times Mirror survey are correct (pun intentional).
It's hard to think of money as a god, or even as a false idol, so for my purposes I have renamed it Yenom. Sounds a little like Yahweh, so it becomes a little easier to think of them as competing gods. In the past two years, since leaving my career with State Farm, I've had to answer a lot of questions and challenges about finances. Everything from "is that why I got married?" to the standard "how do I expect to pay my bills?" to the cliché "God expects me to work hard" as if I don't, for lack of a paycheck.
So I have a few survey questions for Americans myself:
When you decided on the job YOU now have, did you think more about Yahweh, or Yenom?
The decisions you make at, or about, your job. Do they relate more to Yahweh or Yenom? How about at home?
It's almost Christmas. Will you spend more time thinking about Yahweh, or Yenom? How about your activities?
If Yahweh hasn't provided for what you think you need. And, Yenom hasn't been able to give you all you want. Will you turn to that plastic alternative that the god Knab enticingly offers? Did you know his primary objective is to enslave you?
I've been thinking a lot about Yenom lately. He seems to creep into practically every decision I am considering. As a god he's a real downer, and very depressing. It doesn't matter whether you're in big with him already or simply chasing after him. That is when I truly become grateful that Yahweh called me out of my State Farm career. You see, if I was really going to put Yenom as my first or only God, that was the very best opportunity and place to do so. I need to remember that.
(My poem "Justification From The Source" was included as a part of this newsletter)
It occurs to me that those of you not involved with Christianity or Judaism might be wondering at this point who or what is Yahweh. Along with Jehovah, Yahweh is one of the traditional translations of the name of God (given in Hebrew in the Scriptures).
Every time I get on the topic of money, I usually have someone who questions; can't a person have money and also practice Christian principals? In theory, yes. There is nothing wrong with money as a tool. But, for most of us it has become more than just a tool. We think about it, even agonize over it, chase after it, compromise our beliefs for it, and try to accumulate it as if it were the life force itself. There are both jokes and wise sayings about the relationship of money and happiness. Yet, for all our wealth (and even the poorest among us reading this letter is wealthy by world standards) our society is in as big a mess as it ever has been. The one thing we don't do very well with money, or the things it buys us, is share it. Oh yes, Americans are always touted for their generosity. But as a percentage of what we have and consume, it is truly paltry. It's the perfect example of the poor widow and her coins compared to the Pharisees on a grand scale. I've included a copy of A THANKS GIVING CHALLENGE as a part of this newsletter. I understand it is already past Thanksgiving, and I wrestled with Jesus' admonition not to make charitable acts public, but I want to make a point with it. I left this challenge on the pastor's desk at my church over three weeks before Thanksgiving, with an unsigned note to present it as he thought best. The sole reference to it in the ensuing four weeks was a brief reference the week of Thanksgiving that someone in the congregation had given half their food to the food bank. I think the world of my pastor, and think he does an excellent job. But his is a common reaction. People seem to respond as if I personally am asking them to do such things, and that it is asking too much. Far from it. I tone down most of what I put out, from the strong words I hear in Scripture. The words, the instructions, are from Jesus, the Christ, the One that Christians profess to be following. Unless we are reading from different bibles, something is out of whack. That kind of a ThanksGiving should be commonplace among Christians, not unusual. Food banks should never be running out of food, as ours was, in a "Christian" community. The shelter program helping the homeless should never have to wonder if it will survive financially in the next year, as ours in Eaton County does.
If Christians will instead start trying to live a little of what they say they believe; the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoners would all become living examples of what Christianity can do when accepted and lived. One that would be worth more than all the rhetoric of individuals and organizations combined.
Invariably, when I start talking like this I am confronted by someone who challenges that I am standing in judgment of others, or thinking that I am better than others. Sorry, but no go. I am not a saint. I am not even an exceptionally "good" Christian. I struggle with how to relate to money. With hospitality versus personal space issues. I struggle with what is valid God given sexuality versus worldly distortion. I struggle with anger, and prejudice, and yes even judgmentalism, and materialism, and so much more, just like you. Indeed, if anyone visits the center expecting to find a holy man, they are going to be sorely disappointed. Yet, I see there is so much that can be done with even a little change in attitude. And a little obedience to Jesus' instruction. I am dumbstruck at times that people see my choices as unusual or extreme Christianity, when I see they are just listening to what Jesus really said.
FROM MY MAILBOX
Dr. James Dobson's Focus On The Family newsletter came recently. He was talking about findings of the Barna Research Group surveys of young people. Some revealing stuff like: three out of four teenagers say there is no absolute moral truth. Suicide is viewed as just one of the many viable choices available to a healthy, functional young person. 82 percent have had sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex by the age of 19, and one-fifth of all students will have had at least four sex partners before graduating from high school.
In a prior newsletter Dr. Dobson suggested several eternal questions everyone must deal with eventually. It doesn't matter if you are an atheist, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, a New-Ager, an agnostic, or a Christian:
- Who am I as a person?
(Not included here as an excerpt is a lengthy introduction to Ledges Specialty & Wholesale, another name and business avenue which was added to try to generate some income for the various ministries. At one time there were seven DBAs under which I was functioning. LSW lasted just a couple of years, along with Solutions, the herbal and natural products piece, before I decided to eliminate them.)
There are a couple of reasons I am exploring these avenues (other than the sheer obedience of seeing what God might have in mind. Or, possibly learning another lesson about temptation.) One, is that there are expenses to what I do pertaining to my mission statement. And my State Farm income will run out. Contributions may develop as an avenue but they haven't (significantly) so far and I cannot count on them as a main source. I need to test all the avenues I seem to be given. Second, one of my mission statements is to help others break out of the boxes the world would keep them pigeonholed in. Some of you have booths, and/or stores of your own with which you are already trying to break loose from some of those boxes. Others may be able to develop income supplements buying and selling in their own circles, parties, etc. Still others may just benefit from spending less for gifts, or other items they might already purchase. I don't know. This is all in it's infancy. But I remind you that this is not what a touch of william is ALL about. I'll work with whoever is interested, but this is not my primary objective. That has not changed.
As a result of some of what's happening I anticipate the possibility that there may be some interest in how to become a poet's circle member. In the past, poet's circle membership was given to anyone (for a minimum of twelve months) who made any kind of contribution to a touch of william or a focused mission. If I haven't already mentioned it, I now require that the first contribution be at least $13. The reason for this is to discourage those who have no real interest in the philosophical or spiritual nature of a touch of william but just see an easy way to buy something cheaper that they want to purchase. That's the official program. Between you and I, I'll let you know that those who truly show an interest in the teaching side of things will not be excluded for lack of money. Prayer, helping out, and other options are all valid ways of contributing.
Although I have been given no official word, it looks like the front two rooms of the downstairs will still be made available to me. I am in the process of moving the library forward and reorganizing Cherokee Bill's Trade Center. I'm hoping to have it done by the first of the year, but most of the stuff can be accessed now. Let me know if you need something. I'm going to keep the keyholder program around, but it will be real low key (started with a pun, might as well end with one). It'll be $50 per month, or $500 per year (savings of 2 months). I still consider this as a possible avenue to stabilizing the space situation, so it's not so iffy where the Center will be. I have placed some of the Enrich products in the Trade Center so they are available for trade as well as purchase for those who might want to try them. Plus, I now have a fairly decent inventory of products upstairs for those who don't want to send in their own order, or only need an item or two. It's 8:40pm and I'm still at the church (I don't have my own computer), I've been here since 1:30 or so. I think it's time to wish you:
A HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND GOD'S PEACE