Monday, October 5, 2015

Realities of College Freshmen

Every year Beloit College publishes their mindset list of what the typical freshmen entering college has always known, or never known, and each year I feel a little bit older.

Here is this year's list:

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:
1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.
2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible.”
3. They have never licked a postage stamp.
4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.
6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.
7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
8. The NCAA has always had a precise means to determine a national champion in college football.
9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.
10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Go Read a Banned Book

Just found out that this past week was Banned Book Week (it ends today).  As you can see from the lists of books I have read this year on the right side of the blog, I love to read.

Looking for a book that might challenge you, and that have certainly challenged others? Here are the most commonly challenged/banned books from the years 2000-2009 from the American Library Association.  (Books in bold are ones I have read)

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Friday, October 2, 2015

4th Downs, Pitching and the Blame Game

Gregg Easterbrook, who used to write for ESPN until their purge of people critical of the NFL, now writes about football for the New York Times.  One of his constant complaints is about coaches punting on 4th down, especially when it's 4th and short, and definitely when they are on the opposition's side of the field.  It is Easterbrook's contention, and he has the stats to back it up, that possession of the ball is a much more significant to winning the game then is trying to win "field position."  In addition, he says that by going for it, by being more aggressive, that coaches signal to their players that they want to win and trust and believe in the players to get the job done.

But, he argues, if coaches go for it and the attempt fails, the coaches are much more likely to be questioned and take the blame.  Whereas, since punting on 4th down is conventional wisdom, if they punt and the defense can't stop the other team, then it's the players fault.  It's a type of blame shifting that is bought into by the media, and because of them, by the fans as well.

Which leads me to pitching, and in particular the pitching of the New York Yankees.  There is a much lamented refrain in the media this year that the Yankees' bullpen is tired because their starting pitching is not giving them enough length, and so the bullpen pitchers are having to throw too many pitches.  This places all the blame on the pitchers, even ultimately on the bullpen pitchers because "they have to make their pitches" and if they don't it's certainly not the manager's fault.

The problem with this analysis is that it totally dismisses the manager's role in leaving pitchers in or taking them out.  Girardi seems to have the belief that if a pitcher even comes close to throwing 100 pitches that he has to be pulled out of the game.  There are lots of times when he has yanked a starting pitcher who is cruising for seemingly no other reason other than he is approaching 100 pitches.  Then when the bullpen blows the game, it's not Girardi's fault, it's the bullpen because they are tired from having starting pitching not going deep into games.

Similarly, a bullpen pitcher will be doing great when they are yanked and someone else brought in because "conventional wisdom" is to make the move.  I have never figured out why starting pitchers can face both lefties and righties, but bullpen pitchers can only seem to be able to pitch to one of the other.  Unless, of course, they have a specific role such as "set-up man" or "closer" and then can see both batters, but can never be used in any situation other than what their role is.  You absolutely cannot bring in the closer, you're 9th inning guy, in the 8th to face the heart of the order of the other team, because that's not their "role."

That of course is also blame shifting.  It's not the manager's fault if the pitcher messes up, that's all on the pitcher, even if they never should have been there in the first place.  It also signals to his pitchers whether he believes in them or not, and you cannot learn how to pitch out of a jam unless your manager allows you to try it.

The one exception to this rule this year is Matt Williams, the soon to be ex-manager of the Washington Nationals, who is blamed for not bringing in pitchers out of their designated roles.  But Williams is definitely the exception to the rule in this case, otherwise the mantra in sports, and the actions of managers and coaches, is to make the decisions so that the blame goes to the players rather than to the person making the decision, because they did what "everyone else does."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Introverts in the Church

I was at a conference last week, and the presenter who was not only clearly extroverted, but said that he was extroverted, said that every clergy person needed to spend a minimum of 10 hours a week out in the community meeting new people.  This was about more than just not being locked in your office, this was about going out and meeting new people, and getting their names and addresses for follow-up.

As part of this injunction he said that it didn't matter if you were extroverted, introverted, shy, outgoing, whatever it might be, pastors had to do this.  My thought, as in introvert, is how easy it is for him, as an extrovert, to say that.  Now I don't disagree with his premise.  As an introvert it's way to easy, and too much of a default, to keep to myself.  But, to totally disregard who I am (who God made me to be) was a little over the top.

The reverse would be for me to say to extroverts: You need to be spending at least 10 hours a week by yourself, with no outside interaction, in prayer, scripture study or reading.  For most extroverts that would be an excruciating idea, one which would probably leave them physically and spiritually exhausted.  They would have to get out in order to try and recharge their batteries, if they could even survive doing that week in and week out.

There has been plenty written about introverts lately, and strangely much of it written by extroverts, so I'm not going to delve into that now.  I also know that I am an introvert, as many clergy are, who inhabits what is typically seen as an extroverted role.  But, I bring gifts and graces because of that make-up that extroverts don't bring, just as they also bring gifts and graces that I don't bring.  But to totally dismiss me and say I have to be like you, to do something that's easy for you, just seemed a little extreme.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Direct TV and the NFL's View of Manhood

If you are watching TV, by now you have probably seen one of Direct TV's ads for their NFL package staring Randy Moss, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Andrew Luck.  (If you haven't you can view them all on youtube).  They build off of their popular Rob Lowe "Don't be like this me" ads of those who have Direct TV and those who don't. Except these are about people who have the NFL Sunday ticket and those who don't.

My biggest problem with these ads is the view of manhood or masculinity that they are portraying. The opposite Randy Moss is short, the opposite Peyton Manning has a high voice, the opposite Tony Romo does art and cooks and the opposite Andrew Luck has cats.  So in other words if you don't fit the narrow, confining idea of who and what a man is in our culture than you aren't a real man, and real men, of course, watch the NFL.

As someone who is 2" shorter than the average height for white males in America, has a voice higher than I would like and owns two cats, I guess I simply don't qualify to get the NFL package.  Although the truth is it's because of the ridiculous amount of money they charge.  I get 162 games of the Yankees, and every other MLB team, for less than 1/2 the cost of the NFL package which only has 16 games.

It seems sort of surprising in the year 2015 that we would still get this idea of manhood portrayed, and yet at the same time it's not.  But you would think that with all the problems the NFL has had over the past year, as well as their marketing drive to try and get more women to watch, that they would be trying to tone down this idea of ultra-masculinity, rather than pumping it up.  But instead the opposite is being done here.

It's time for other companies, perhaps Dish Network or one of the cable companies, to come out with "Don't be like this Direct TV" and give us some positive role models of men who don't fit the "normal, acceptable" role of masculinity.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Down on the Farm: Is This a Weed?

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The text was Matthew 13:24-30:

Before being appointed here to Mesa View, we served two rural congregations outside of Clovis.  We worshiped in House, New Mexico at 9 am, and then I quickly got into my car for a 30 minutes to drive to the larger of the two churches in Melrose, and that’s 30 minutes going much faster than the speed limit posted on the county roads because there was nothing in between except farms and ranches.  One day as I was driving out to House, I saw a man who was just standing out in one of the fields.  I thought it was a little unusual, and on the way back to Melrose he was still standing there.  Again I thought that was a little strange, but what do I know about farming?  Perhaps there was a perfectly reasonable excuse for what he was doing.  But the next week he was out there again, just standing there, and so now my curiosity got the better of me and I had to stop, and so I got out of the car and yelled over to him and he smiled and waved, and I said, “I just have to know what you’re doing?”  And he said “I’m trying to win the Nobel Prize” and I said, “The Nobel prize,” and he said, “Yeah, it’s pretty prestigious, and I heard that if you win one they give you more than a million dollars.”  I said that was true but didn’t really understand how he was going to win the Nobel prize, and he said, “we’ll what they say is that to win the Nobel prize, you have to be outstanding in your field, and since I’m the only one standing in my field, I think I’ve got a pretty good chance.”

Last week we began a new sermon series in which we are looking at what we can learn about growing our faith based on lessons from the farm, and idea I stole from Rev. Adam Hamilton, and today we continue with another agricultural parable from Jesus.  There are only two times we have Jesus talking about weeds.  The first is in today’s passage, commonly called the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the second is in the passage we heard last week in the parable of the sower.  In that passage, Jesus says that a sower went out to sow seeds and some fell on hard ground, and the birds ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, but the soil wasn’t deep enough for the roots to take hold, and so when the son came up the plants withered and died, other seeds were planted among the thorns, or weeds, but the weeds grew up along with the other plants and choked them out, and finally some of the seeds fell on the good soil and those seeds grew into a bountiful harvest.  Now the analogy that Jesus is making in that parable is that the soil is supposed to be our hearts, and the seed is the word of God.  And we should ask ourselves how prepared we are to receive God’s word, to have it take root in our lives.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Down on the Farm: Stuck in the Mud

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The text was Matthew 13:1-9:

Once upon I time I worked for a non-profit group that built low income housing using environmentally sustainable building materials.  As one of our projects, we built a demonstration house out of straw bales on the Navajo reservation for an 86 year-old woman.  In order to help prepare for that, I borrowed my dad’s truck and picked up a 15 foot trailer in Gallup, along with a full load of straw bales and headed out to the building site.  I pulled the truck up to where we thought would be the easiest place to unload the bales and once I stopped, the truck and trailer promptly sank into the sand.  After we got the bales unloaded we then tried to get the truck out, and try as we might it didn’t want to go.  The tires just spun and we got more stuck. Eventually two other trucks with four-wheel-drive were able to pull me out.   I’m sure it’s an experience that many of you have had, whether it’s sand, or snow, or mud, where no matter what you do you can’t get out and you spin and spin your wheels and wait for something or someone else to help.  Being stuck in the mud could be a metaphor for the human condition.

Today we begin a new sermon series looking at how we grow our faith, based on lessons that we can learn from life on the farm, an idea I stole from Rev. Adam Hamilton, and today we begin by looking at soil and mud.  I know that some of you grew up on farms, but I did not.  Although the house I grew up in was surrounded by agriculture, there was a cotton field a half block from the house, and orange groves less than a mile away, our agriculture was limited to a small garden in the side yard, and all that I can really remember about that, besides having to pull weeds, is the big green caterpillars that loved to attack the tomato plants, and the only thing I grow now is hair, and I obviously can’t even do a very good job at that anymore.  So I’ve spent a lot of time recently trolling the extension programs of different universities around the country trying to learn a thing or two about farming, and may have learned just enough to make me dangerous.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Who Are We Going To Blame?

This past weekend I was at a retreat, and during some free time there was horseback riding offered, which my family and I decided to do.  As we headed out, there was a wrangler at the head of the line, and then there was one person between her and me in the third spot.  As we were riding, the person in front of me was very concerned with her horse getting too close the wrangler's horse and kept pulling back on her reigns rather unnecessarily.  Rather than letting her horse do what he wanted to do as a trained trail horse, she wanted to keep a tight reign on him.

As we kept going and started climbing up a hill, the wrangler's horse either got spooked, or just acted up, and turned and jumped.  This caused the person in front of me, who was already too tight, to start pulling back on her horse to try and get away, but then rather than stopping, she kept pulling back on the reigns, and pulling back, and pulling back.

If you are familiar with horses, you know that pulling back forces them to go backward, and so the more she pulled, the more the horse went backward and the faster he started going.  Even though the other wrangler who was riding next to us was yelling at her to stop and let go of the reigns, she didn't stop.  This then caused the horse to get into a position he couldn't sustain and to fall over backwards, which then threw her out of the saddle, and fortunately to be able to get out of the way as the horse then rolled over the same way she had fallen.  She was a little dirty and sore, but escaped what could have been a series accident.

As this was happening, I quickly pulled back and to the right on my horse to get him out of the way, but then let up and he settled down and we stopped and stood where we were.  This is not to praise the way I handled it, because if I had been where she was perhaps things would have gone differently, and I would have reacted differently.  It's always really easy to say "If I would have been there, I would have done X" because you don't know.  I did trust my horse to do what it needed to do once we were clear of the immediate danger.

But, it's what happened afterwards that is the point of this story, because rather than taking any blame on herself for pulling back on the reigns forcing the horse into the situation she got into, instead she blamed the horse.  It was the horse that acted up, it was the horse that bolted, and she said she's had horses act up before but she doesn't put up with it (she told a story of a horse biting her to which she slapped it on the head and it never did it again).

After the next group to ride came back, everyone else wanted to know who rode that horse and if they had any problems.  Of course they didn't because what happened was first of all a fluke, and secondly it was never the horse's fault.  The horse did what the rider was telling him to do, and never should have been blamed in the first place.  But isn't that our nature?

Rather than taking responsibility, we look for who else might be responsible, who else can we blame. And I am just as guilty of this as anyone else.  After my first year in my current church, I said that I could no longer lay responsibility for things at the feet of the former pastor because now it was getting to be all my responsibility. There are still lots of things I want to blame others for, but the truth is I am just as culpable now.

But even worse, the blame game not only shifts responsibility, it also shifts, or stops, the ability to try and do something different or to learn from our mistakes.  Until we learn to admit our mistakes, and not blame others, then we can never learn from what we did wrong, and use that to make us better at whatever it is that we want to do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NCAA Math and Language

This weekend the NCAA football season kicked off.  It featured Saturday Night Football, except it was played on Monday.  And that game featured Ohio State from the Big 10, except there are actually 12 teams in the conference, and the Big 12 conference has only 10 teams.

With logic like this, is it any wonder that the "student-athlete" idea is totally out of wack?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Shhh... It's a Secret

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The text was Mark 7:24-37:

The Spork is a model of American ingenuity, or perhaps we should say of American cheapness.  Patented in 1970 by the Van Brode Milling Company of Clinton, Massachusetts, it also one of the most worthless of tools.  The version of the spork with which most of us are so familiar is the one we get at fast food restaurants, where the plastic tongues snap off if you ever actually had to try and use it as a fork, for which it was designed, and yet it’s worthless as a spoon as well, because the liquid wants to exit through the slits that represent the sporks tines.  While it’s been said that you cannot be “kind of” or “sort of” pregnant, that you are either pregnant or not, the spork truly represents the kind of or sort of aspects of our life, neither quite one nor the other, neither quite spoon nor fork.  In their ode to the spork at (and yes there is such a site, although it says it hasn’t been updated since 1996) the writers claim “the spork is a perfect metaphor for human existence.  It tries to function as both a spoon and a fork, and because of this dual nature, it fails miserably at both.  You cannot have soup with a spork; it is far too shallow.  You cannot eat meat with a fork; the prongs are too small.”  I don’t know what really got me thinking about the spork, but it occurred to me on Friday morning as I was thinking about how I was going to start today’s message, that perhaps the spork also represents how some of us try and live out our Christian life, especially when it comes to the dreaded “e” word, evangelism.

In today’s passage, Jesus is out wandering around in gentile, that is non-Jewish areas.  It’s not exactly clear where Jesus actually is because we are told that he was coming from the region of Tyre, which is north of the Sea of Galilee on the coast in modern day Lebanon.  That much is clear and in the beginning of the passage that was assigned for today, which you will find in your scripture insert, but which we didn’t read, Jesus encounters a woman who is described as being syrophonecian, which makes total sense because Tyre was part of the area known as Phoenicia, but was part of the roman province of Syria.  So we know where he was when he started, but then we are told that he makes his way back to the Sea of Galilee by way of Sidon, which is twelve miles to the north of the city of Tyre, sort of like saying we went from Albuquerque to Las Cruces by way of Bernalillo, and then to confuse even more, it says in the region of the Decapolis, which was a region made up of ten cities on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, sort of across from the area known as Galilee.  But somewhere in there, a group of people bring to Jesus a man who is deaf and has an impediment in his speech and they beg Jesus to lay hands on the man and heal him.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to Egypt

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The scripture was Exodus 17:1-7:

For the past few weeks, I, like probably many of you, have been receiving notifications on my computer that Microsoft would like me to upgrade to windows 10.  I was not one of the 10 million people who upgraded on the first day.  And to be honest, the real reason I have been putting it off, is not because I am opposed to technology, because I’m fine with the way things are now and I don’t want to have to learn a new system, because let’s admit it, change is hard.  I remember the transition when Microsoft came out with office 2007 and the substantial changes to the tool bar that came with it, and I couldn’t stand it.  But now that I’ve been using it for so long I realize on the backside how much better the changes actually were.  I didn’t like it when I was going through it, but now you couldn’t get me to go back.  Now there are times in which I want the newest updates because the current product is inferior, but those are fewer and farther between.  But that means there are some changes we like and there are things we are opposed to.  And this is true for all of us.  Even people who seem to love change and are always waiting for new things to be coming out, there are changes that they would be opposed to, and on the flip some people who seem to resist everything will suddenly be behind some other change because it’s something that they want to see happen.

With the completion of our Healthy Church Initiative consultation weekend last week, we stand on the precipice of change.  And I use the word precipice here deliberately, because the prescriptions that have been given to us by the HCI team can cause us to go one of two ways.  The first is to take a step away from the cliff.  That’s the safe and the easy way to go.  That’s the way that says, I don’t want to change, I don’t want to do anything different, I don’t want to take a risk, I don’t want to go anywhere new, and while I can be convinced to stay right here, my preference would be to take a few steps backwards right at the moment to make sure we are safe.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with that position.  We have an innate desire to protect ourselves, not to take unnecessary risks, and this goes all the way back to our caveman days when going outside the cave could get you eaten by a tiger, and so our self-preservation tendencies kick in and we want to do the safe thing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

James: Faith and Works

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The text was James 1:22-27 and 2:14-26:

Today we conclude our series on the book of James, and I hope that you have enjoyed, or at least appreciated, hearing from James.  But even if you haven’t, I have enjoyed exploring James, and sometimes that’s the benefit of being the person who controls what gets preached.  I’ve always liked James, but had never done anything on the letter, and the more I have read and studied James over the past few months, the more I have come to enjoy James and to also realize that even in our 7 weeks on this letter, that we have really only begun to touch the surface of what James actually has to say to us.  But today we close with what has become one of James’ most famous passages, and the one that nearly got him banned from the Bible, and has gotten him banned from many Protestant pulpits and that is his claim that faith without works is dead.
This got James banned largely because of the influence of Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant reformation, whose distinctive moto about salvation was sola fides, by faith alone.  That is that it is faith that saves us not anything else.  Now the background of this is rooted in Roman Catholic theology and the idea of works righteousness, which says that doing good works in the world, will sort of earn us bonus points towards our salvation, sort of like doing extra credit work at school.  You might have a B+ on your regular assignments, but doing that one extra credit piece maybe will shift you up to an A-, and then your parents and God are happy and no one gets into trouble.  At the time of Luther, however, it was more than just about good works, because doing pilgrimages could count for this, as could the buying of penance, that is paying the church to have them issue you forgiveness for your sins, or for others sins, to buy years off of your time in purgatory.  And that doesn’t really even begin to delve into the depths of the what and the why.  But Luther said all of that was worthless, or saying that it had gotten way out of control is probably a better summation, and he said that it is not what we do that earns us salvation, it is God and faith alone that saves us.  So from that we have sort of come up with a battle of works versus faith.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

James: Tongues of Fire

Here is my sermon from Sunday.  The text was James 1:19-27, 3:1-12, and 4:11-12:

Perhaps appropriately enough since today is the last Sunday before school begins, but last week Gerry Lightwine who was our guest preacher gave you all a homework assignment and that was to go and read the Letter of James all the way through?  Did everyone do that?  Well did you at least read chapter 7 because that’s probably the most important?  That was a trick question because there are only 5 chapters in James.  It’s one of the shortest letters we have, but still very important with what it means to be a Christian and more importantly how it is that we are to live a Christian life.  James is concerned about not what we confess but about what we do, and that is very evident in today’s passages in which we hear about taming and controlling the tongue.  Because he says that the same tongue that we use to confess God, to bless God, is the same tongue that we then use to curse others who are made in the image of God, indicating that our confession of God or of Jesus doesn’t really mean much because we are double-tongued and live out something else other than that blessing.
There are several reasons why I chose these passages for today, in our penultimate series on James.  We hear a lot about bullying in school these days and so I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves about the dangers that our words can pose to others.  In addition, James has something to say for us as adults as well, because he tells us that not everyone should become a teacher.  I remember at another church when this reading came up in the lectionary, the person reading that Sunday was a teacher and she said she wishes she had read this before she decided to become a teacher.  She also thought other teachers should be reminded of this passage every year so they remembered the incredibly important position they hold in taking on their students each year.  So teachers remember that you have a precious place in your student’s lives and what you do does matter.

But, I don’t think that James is just thinking here of school teachers, especially since that wasn’t part of his reality, but instead about others who take positions of authority within the community, who are communicating the faith and who are seen as the face of the religion.  This is something that weighs heavily on me as a preacher.  Long before I had ever read James, I believed that preachers would be held to a high standard by God when we came to meet God face to face, as there are other passages that indicate this as well.  So, as I have said before, I think carefully about what it is that I say knowing that what I say influences people and that I will be held accountable for both the bad and the good.  But I think James’ injunction for teachers is really much, much broader, because in reality aren’t all of us teachers in one way or another.  We are teachers in the roles where we are directly teaching, but we are also teachers as parents, as grandparents, as aunts and uncles, as friends, as acquaintances as total strangers, because everything we do sends a message to someone else about who we are and how we behave.  Have you ever seen someone with a Jesus fish on their car doing something rudely, and perhaps doing something that is less than Christian in appearance?  What impact did that have on you, and what impact does it have on others, especially those who are not part of the faith?  And what does that actually say about their faith?  James says that a spring cannot pour forth both fresh and brackish water, and by reference then if you see brackishness coming out what type of spring is actually there?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

ESPN Knows Which Side Its Bread Is Buttered On

Simon Cameron once said that "an honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." I think by that standard we can say that the executives at ESPN are a group of honest politicians. Obviously the NFL is one of their largest and most important partners, and they are doing very well, at the moment, to protect that investment and partnership.

In recent months, ESPN has been doing some pruning of their talent pool.  There are lots of reasons given why people's contracts have not been renewed, and perhaps we should just accept the stories at face value.  Except for the fact that of those lost, the majority, and certainly the biggest names, have been those who have been extremely critical of the NFL and of Roger Goodell in particular.

First there was Bill Simmons who routinely called out Goodell, and then there was Keith Olberman who routinely said that Goodell should either resign or be fired.  There was even Gregg Easterbrook, who had one of the most highly read columns in, who wrote a book, expanding many of the issues in his column, calling out the NFL in particular, and Goodell by inference, for its cover-up on concussions, their tax-exempt status, and their pilfering of public money to build stadiums, among many other issues.

Is this merely a coincidence?  Possibly.  But I'm guessing it's not.  Because besides for removing those most vocal against Goodell, in the revamp of their website, they also removed most, if not all, of the commentary that used to be found.

I liked ESPN much better when they actually provided some independent content and were actually open to questioning groups, even the NFL.  But I guess when you are bought, you need to stay bought.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cash and Panhandlers

As a general rule, I don't carry cash.  If I ever have cash it's because someone has paid me for something in cash, and it will soon be deposited, or because I have gotten cash from the bank for a specific reason and it will soon be leaving my wallet.  I am not unique in this attribute, as large numbers of people don't carry cash and it is increasing.  According to, 9% of Americana don't carry any cash, and 50%, if they have cash, carry less than $20.

Of course as a minister I  have people coming into my office seeking cash to help with something. It's very rare that we ever give any cash to people at the church, instead giving food or writing a check for rent or utilities. And if I am approached personally, my response is always, and quite honestly, I don't have any cash.  They might think I'm lying just to get rid of them, but for me its the truth.

That got me thinking the other day that as fewer and fewer people carry cash, and instead use debit/credit cards, is there a time in the near future in which either panhandling radically transforms to something else, or people stop giving cash and instead buy them water or a meal, etc? Of course this will also put a crunch in other areas, such as garage sales and other "off the book" transactions, and I wonder how they will be transacted?

I suspect that carrying cash is largely a generational issue, that is those younger don't carry cash, and so maybe it won't happen really soon, but it will be sooner rather than later.  The government will also play a role in what the future holds as they seek to make sure they get their portion, and so this will not just be decided by the marketplace.  I don't know what the answer is, but I am kind of curious how it will work itself out.