An occasional blog exploring the intersection of religion, politics and society.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tithing and Stewardship
Stewardship season is coming up for many, if not most, faith communities, and in the August 23rd issue of the Christian Century I ran across an anecdote told by political scientist Michael Walzer, whom I've referenced before in posts on the Just War Tradition. In 1948, the year of Walzer's bar mitzvah, Walzer's parents took him to a Jewish fund-raising banquet. After a speech by a guest speaker, pledge cards were distributed with the expectation that they'd be filled out immediately. The owner of one of the more prominent stores in town, who also knew the financial status of most of the families present, was in charge of reviewing the pledges. If he thought a family wasn't pledging enough, he tore up the card and handed it back to them. Imagine what would happen if today's churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples ran pledge drives like that!
According to Walzer the Hebrew word tzedakah can mean that giving is both an act of both charity and justice, which suggests that to not give what we're capable of giving to the poor is nothing less than taking something from them.