Friday, July 25, 2014

Book 11 of 2014 -- The Generosity Factor

This book was suggested by a member of my Ministry & Personnel committee, I think when we were talking about the need for the congregation to do some work around stewardship (because that is what the book is about).

The premise is that a rich, make money is what counts, stockbroker reads an article about a CEO who believes strongly in the value of giving.  At the same time the Broker is highly successful and yet wonders about significance.  So he goes and spends a weekend with the Executive to learn the secret of how giving and generosity brings happiness.

I am really tempted to get folks in the church to read this book and then have us discuss it.  It gives a good basis for a discussion of Christian Stewardship.

On the surface it is a novel, but the claim is that it is based on the attitudes and practices of one of the authors....

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Great Idea...BUT....

I am a firm believer in the law of unintended consequences.

Today I am wondering how that law will play out yet again.

In the mail today was our GST Credit statement.  As I might have expected had I thought about it.  But what caught my attention was a notice on it that all Government of Canada Cheques are being phased out by April 2016.

Not a problem for most people.  Indeed I haven't gotten a cheque from the government for almost 15 years.   All our tax refunds and credits come via Direct Deposit.

But will that work for everyone?

To get Direct Deposit you, obviously, need a bank account.  Generally to get a bank account you at least need a home address, some accounts may even require a minimum balance.  There are people who live without a bank account.  What happens to them when the government assumes everyone can do Direct Deposit?

As it happens there are many people who miss out on government payments to which they are entitled because they fall through the cracks.  They may not file a return because they have no income.  They may be so mobile that they forget to inform the office of a change in address (which will even cancel Direct Deposit payments--as we learned one year when someone at CRA mis-entered our Postal Code and then insisted we had moved without telling them and THAT was why they had the wrong address and mail was returned to them).  To require that one has a bank account to get money to which they are entitled is merely one more hurdle that will cut money away from some of the people who most need it.

I get it.  It is cheaper to not print and mail cheques.  It is more convenient for many of us to just have the money appear (which is why we do Direct Deposit).  But a cardinal (IMO) rule in public policy is to not create structure that harm the most at risk in the society.  Unless there is some other plan in place--this change will harm some of those who live on the least.

The law of unintended consequences at work....

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Book 10 of 2014 -- When "Spiritual But Not Religious" Is Not Enough

When I was in Seattle a couple months ago I heard Lillian Daniel speak and was very impressed.  And I had looked at this book a couple of times and pondered buying it.  So I finally pulled the trigger and got it.

First I have to say that I miss the days when I could read and retain stuff.....I seem to be getting worse at that.  And it is really frustrating.  But I digress.

I liked this book.  There were pieces of it I want to use in preaching later (assuming I remember--see above).   I am thinking of suggesting it as a Book Study for next winter, as I think there could be some great discussions out of each section. 

I am never sure how best to use a book like this.  You can, as I did, read it like a "normal" book, in order.  But because it is a collection of stories and reflections you can pick and choose and jump around.

In a culture where we have too often lost the ability (in and out of the church) to talk about where we find God and why we feel God's presence and how we "know" God this book gives us a start for the discussion.  I think it is good reading for those in and out of religion.

And I am seriously tempted to just read the chapter on Valentine's Day the next time Feb 14 is a Sunday (which should be 2016).