Thou hypocrite

My husband’s best friend from high school, Siobhan, arrives for a weekend visit. Reed hasn’t seen her for 20-plus years. We’re all a bit nervous at first, but she’s an instant hit with the kids. Raised Catholic, she’s the sixth of seven children herself, and is curious about our faith. I’m hoping we’ll make a good Mormon impression.

We go to Temple Square on Saturday. As we approach the Main Street plaza gates there are, as usual, several scruffy panhandlers. Reed ponies up some change (our usual practice) and one of the kids hands it to a man who has two stumps for legs. I’m secretly pleased that Siobhan is here to see this little exchange. Points for the family, points for Mormons in general. Maybe she’ll convert.

It’s a gorgeous day, with about a dozen brides on the temple grounds in full puffy-white splendor. Under command from the kids, we stop by the seagull monument and I dig out some change to toss into the fountain. Once my pennies are gone, I shut my wallet. “I’m keeping my quarters!” I announce.

Siobhan laughs. But hey, having cash in my wallet is a rare occasion.

Walking toward a spot for lunch, we pass more panhandlers. One man holds a sign that reads Out of work. Reed hands him a few coins.

“How do we know he’s really out of work?” my ten-year-old whispers to me.

“We don’t. We’re taking his word for it,” I whisper back. It’s harder to give to people who look healthy and capable. But I remind myself that when facing a beggar, it’s not the beggar’s heart on trial, but my own.

Our preschooler has a major potty accident in the visitor’s center. I don’t have any spare clothes. After swabbing him down with wads of soapy paper towels and depositing his pants and underpants in the garbage can, I zip him into my sweat jacket (which hangs to his knees) and strap him in the stroller. Siobhan walks next to me on our way back to the car, congratulating me on my ingenuity.

As we exit Temple Square we face another panhandler. A woman, this time. She looks about my age. “Ladies, please,” she says, quietly. “Anything.”

I’m tired and poopy-smelling. Reed and the other kids are almost a block ahead of us. The stroller holds forty-one pounds of hefty passenger to push. Without thinking, words pop out of my mouth: “We’ve already given to several others. We’re cleaned out. Sorry.” And I flip the stroller east, away from her blank, grey eyes.

After walking almost a block I acknowledge the images and thoughts that are pumping through my mind:

She’s no different from me. There are at least six quarters in my purse. Siobhan knows I lied.

I don’t turn around.

On Sunday, Reed, Siobhan and I play hooky from Gospel Doctrine and find a small empty classroom, where we sit and talk about the gospel. At one point Siobhan brings up the panhandlers at Temple Square.

“I’m impressed that you gave them money,” she says. “I never give to anyone.”

And I wonder if I ever really do, either.

Comments

  1. I became disillusioned with giving money to panhandlers on my mission in Europe. I’d always ask if they were hungry and if I could buy them something to eat (at a nearby bakery, for example) and they (almost) always told me no. (One young man was excited about getting free food, and I bought him something).
    My heart tells me to give, but I know there’s a very high chance that they’ll spend that money on alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal drugs. I still give pocket change every once in a while, but I think my scarce money is better spent by giving a larger fast offering or donating to a local soup kitchen. If I were in a position to donate more, I’d look into the PEF and other ways to help people in developing countries. That way there’s a much smaller chance my money is going to fuel an addiction.

  2. Better to give to charities that help homeless, or promote governmental institutions and programs that support homeless so they don’t have to humiliatingly sit on corners and beg for money.

  3. Let me expand my thoughts.

    It’s a rather odd thing, but the fact that we give money to people sitting on corners encourages them to continue staying on those corners to beg for money. It is unsustainable. A much better use of our money is, as I said in the earlier comment, either charitable organizations that help the homeless, or government institutions that provide shelter and food for homeless. We should change the mindset that giving tax money to such programs does not constitute charity, because that is exactly what it is!

    Over in Europe, you do not see Germans in Germany begging on the streets. The ones you will see begging on streets are foreigners. This was our experience in Paris just last month. An old woman (probably Romanian by her looks) interrupted our dining at a restaurant for money. She looked like my grandmother. Seriously! (I’m Romanian by birth). This is a major failing in Europe, because you really don’t see Frenchmen on Parisian corners begging for food. However, the systems set up there work for those who they are designed to help. We are capable of keeping people off the streets, and more importantly, getting them back on their feet so they can be productive members of society. We choose, as a society, to be derisive of governmental organizations that do this (and most criticism of waste is spot on), but put simply, private non-profit organizations are simply not capable of getting everyone off the street.

  4. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Believe it or not, this post isn’t about the wisdom or foolishness of giving pocket change to panhandlers. Read it again.

  5. This is more or less a daily dilemma as I walk between the subway and work. I see many of the same people in the same places every day, and though it may sound un-Christian, we do (and must) judge worthiness at times. I could empty great sums from my pockets as an additional tax on my daily commute, but how much good would it do? Or would it just serve to draw more people out with no hope of rectifying the underlying problem?

    Humans follow incentives. That said, I do give frequently to street performers playing music or otherwise bringing joy and life to the masses as we pass by. I value that and want to encourage them to keep benefiting everyone with their talents.

    I respect those who feel inspired in a particular instance to give out of compassion. But I also know that there are many on the streets out to take advantage of others as it has happened to me.

    Often, I see that those who give are those who themselves come from humble circumstances. A few days ago, I saw one of the janitors from our building, an immigrant who’s not likely earning a huge salary, hand some money to a regular panhandler who eagerly stuffed it in her pocket.

    Perhaps I should have been in awe at her sacrifice, but honestly, I cringed at the thought that resources were being diverted from a worthy and needy cause (her family) to a questionable one.

  6. But Kathryn, back to your point about motivations, it’s true that we should not change our behavior in an attempt to convert.

    As a ward missionary, I teach a short member missionary course, and one of the fundamental points is that we do not need to and should not change a relationship in order to share the gospel. Often, we have a tendency to “work with” people and try to make them better friends so that we can then at some point share the gospel.

    This is wrong. For if we don’t keep up the friendship after a gospel invitation is rejected, our insincere motivations are all the more exposed. We can invite people in many ways and at any level of relationship, and we should do so honestly.

  7. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Very well said, SW Clark.

    In this situation we weren’t changing our behavior for our friend’s benefit, but I can see how the OP implied as much, so I added a parenthetical aside in the second paragraph.

  8. Believe it or not, this post isn’t about the wisdom or foolishness of giving pocket change to panhandlers. Read it again.

    Like any work of literature, once it’s out there the author loses the ability to decide what it’s about. While it may be about something else to you, your readers will often take different meaning than the one you intended.

    I do find that you have elucidated a very common part of human nature, and a what I think is a particularly ugly part of Mormon nature. As humans beings we want to be liked and appreciated and we often change our behavior in order to “put our best foot forward” and make a good impression. Unfortunately in Mormonism it often isn’t about a personal desire to be liked, but a desire to look good or “holy” so that a non-member will be impressed and desire more information that may possibly lead to conversion. While both may be untruthful, I find the conversion motivation to be much more deceitful, if only because it rarely leads to lasting friendship if the person towards whom it is directed never becomes interested in conversion.

  9. Perhaps I should have been in awe at her sacrifice, but honestly, I cringed at the thought that resources were being diverted from a worthy and needy cause (her family) to a questionable one.

    You must really hate the story of the widow’s mite then.

  10. Kathryn,
    I like this story and the distinction it sets between giving and giving meaningfully. It reminds me of the distinctions offered in Moroni 7. God seems to find it insufficient to go through the motions; we have to actually mean the Gospel for it to be effective in our lives.

    It strikes me that figuring out that elusive thing (meaning the Gospel) is what most people (including myself) find problematic in living in the Gospel.

  11. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Like any work of literature, once it’s out there the author loses the ability to decide what it’s about. While it may be about something else to you, your readers will often take different meaning than the one you intended.

    When reading literature, it’s the readers’ job to carefully discern the writer’s main idea according to the fullness of the text, rather than their knee-jerk reaction to a controversial facet of it. We tend to take the latter approach when reading and responding to blog posts, so I reserve the right to use my shepherd’s crook.

  12. Kathryn,

    I understood your point. You felt that you were a hypocrite because you were only giving money so that you could prove to your non-Mormon friend you were charitable, and thus shining a nice light on your religion. I realize now though that my comments aren’t really necessary for this particular topic. Forgive me, I studied politics, it’s kinda hard to not find the political in many things.

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Thanks, John C. This is what I’m getting at: the shock of realizing that your apparently well-intentioned do-good efforts are built on a house of sand–not so much externally, as Daniel pointed out, but internally. We tend to give what we’re comfortable giving, when we’re comfortable giving, congratulating ourselves for hitting the mark at the very moment we’re missing it.

  14. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    That was sweet of you, Daniel. But no apology needed–the surface layer of the story is admittedly a quite stinky red herring.

    Yes, I was ashamed to realize that we had been showing off. Not only for our friend–we would’ve given the money even if she wasn’t there–but for ourselves.

  15. Thanks for sharing, Kathryn. I can understand wanting to make the best impression possible.

    I’m nervous enough about taking non-members to Temple Square–only one I ever brought was my fiancee. When the missionaries cornered us and asked us if we knew anyone who might want to talk to them, my fiancee (then a non-member) said “Maybe my mom might be interested.” I was torn: set a good example as a member missionary, or risk upsetting my mother-in-law by siccing the missionaries on her? I decided to talk my fiancee out of submitting her name to the missionaries. I felt like it was the right choice, but it was still an awkward moment.

  16. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    I’ll bet it was awkward!

    Making a good impression: that gets to the heart of things here. I sometimes wonder, how much of the service I give is aimed at making a good impression–on others, on myself, on God?

  17. Jackson Browne discusses this (kind of) in his song “Rebel Jesus.”

    We guard our world with locks and guns
    And we guard our fine possessions
    And once a year when Christmas comes
    We give to our relations
    And perhaps we give a little to the poor
    If the generosity should seize us
    But if any one of us should interfere
    In the business of why they are poor
    They get the same as the rebel Jesus

    I’ve seen some people sacrifice large things to help others. Buying a vehicle used, and using it for another ten years before finding a replacement, so they could donate large sums of money to charities. No restaurants so that they can pay a larger fast offering.
    I have great respect for that kind of charity.

  18. This is a challenging post.

    After all, when I am confronted others who ask for help, there are so many factors that go into determining whether I will give. Are those factors rationalizations when I choose not to give? Or are they good and legitimate reasons?

    For example, right now, Steve Evans has a call out for money for a very worthy cause on this blog. He is asking for pledges to help with MS. I know Steve Evans is a good man and is not going to do something bad with my money. I have faith that if Steve is schilling for this organization that they are a quality charity and worth giving money to. But I also know what my budget looks like between now and Christmas and that my wife is having a baby next week and that we have about $400 less than we think we need. Is that me justifying to myself? In part yes because I know I’m going to spend between $70 and $100 dollars eating out between now and Sunday. But that’s not just me eating out, I tell myself, that is quality time with my wife and children. That is our routine, and adds joy to our life, and besides, if we saved that $100, I’m still $300 down from what I think we need. If I had I would give, that’s what the scriptures say. And then I start thinking about retirement and how I am about a hundred thousand dollars away from where I’d need to be to not be destitute by age 75 if I retire at age 68.

    But I still know I am going to eat out today and this weekend. I can’t lie to myself. No matter how much I want to.

  19. StillConfused says:

    I don’t give to pan handlers. There are numerous programs already in place to assist them. If I desire to give to the poor, then I will give to the programs that support the poor in a way that is healthy for them — where they do not have unfettered access to the cash but rather receive food, clothing and shelter.

  20. Kathryn:

    I got a few things from this story.

    1) You give. You give a lot.
    2) You give regularly. So it wasn’t just something you did because your friend was here (although I did get the hints that you had a different *experience* this time as a result of your friend being here).
    3) At some point you stopped giving, even though you had more to give.

    And you expect us to focus on 3?

    No, I’m sorry. I can’t do it. YOU GIVE REGULARLY. It boggles my mind that you say, “And I wonder…” Just because you don’t give when there are poopy pants and you have the last 6 quarters…I mean, I know someone’s already brought up the widow’s mite and I risk being bludgeoned with accusations of un-Christlike words, but I will say: you don’t deserve the grief.

    Your friend’s comment were a compliment. Leave the grief and take them. Leave the worry; leave the overthinking; leave the despair. You gave when at no point in the day did you have to.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    We are indeed all beggars. I wonder, what were you begging for in this story? And begging from whom?

  22. Sometimes it takes an outside influence, a sense that someone is watching, to make me recognize my own behavior. Many times I have yelled outside to my children (in not the kindest tone) and then cringed to think that the neighbors might have heard. My children always hear, though, and somehow I don’t cringe then. It’s common, I think, to need an outside catalyst to see ourselves, sometimes.

    I’ve been haunted by missed opportunities too, and the opportunities I have taken do little to comfort. Regardless of anyone’s philosophy on giving to panhandlers (or any other sort of giving) there are people who grab your soul and make it a personal rather than philosophical choice. It’s hard to know what to do.

    I like that you skipped GD to talk about the gospel with Reed and Siobhan. Sometimes I have to step away from the cultural norm in order to get a grip on where my heart is.

  23. If I have change, I give. I will be judged on whether I give, not on what the money I give will be used for.

  24. And yeah, what Casey said. :)

  25. “Many times I have yelled outside to my children (in not the kindest tone) and then cringed to think that the neighbors might have heard. My children always hear, though, and somehow I don’t cringe then.”

    An excellent point. Poignant even.

  26. All I know is that I only give if Steve promises instant fame and glory. Everyone else can take a hike.

  27. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Casey, you’re a gem.

    I should note that this post wasn’t written in the spirit of self-flagellation. But you’re reminding me of how insistently the ego scrambles for the top of the heap: if we can’t feel good about “doing good,” often we’ll purposefully feel bad about it (grief, worry, overthinking, despair–or maybe just writing a blog post)–thereby keeping the spotlight on ourselves.

    Of course, that’s not what you were getting at. You were trying to help me lighten up a bit, and that’s much appreciated. It’s just ironic how our well-intentioned attempts to self-examine can be self-indulgent, just like our well-intentioned efforts to serve.

    Melissa, thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I second Kim’s #25.

    And Kim, I’m realizing we can’t avoid discussing this aspect of the story (although I really don’t want it to overpower the thread), so I’ll come out and say that I second your #23 as well. Like I said in the OP, it’s not the beggar’s heart on trial, but our own. I’m sensitive to the complications of giving that others have mentioned. But if God gave only to the deserving, what would become of us?

    Steve, excellent questions. Thinking.

  28. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    And Peter, your $100.01 speaks volumes.

  29. Another point to this issue is whether we really are in a position to decide if the request is a “worthy” one. When my wife and I were first married, a family member was constantly asking us for money for food. We had the means, and so we’d send a hundred bucks now and then–until we found out that the wife was using the money to get her hair done, and they still didn’t have the food they needed. So one month, we took that hundred dollars and bought a couple of boxes of food–canned goods, flour, sugar, macaroni, etc. and mailed it to them. They never asked for food money again.

  30. This is a good post, Kathryn. It reminds me how difficult it is for me to sort out my motivations. Even when I do good things, I’m not sure that my eye is single to the glory of God. Almost always, I’m afraid that I need to admit that my eye is at least partially on the glory of me.

  31. I will be judged on whether I give, not on what the money I give will be used for.

    I don’t know if I agree with this. We are asked to be responsible stewards over our own stewardship.

    Tim #1 – the great thing about PEF is that it takes so little money to dramatically change someone’s life.

    The message I got from this post is: are we giving enough? If it isn’t much of a sacrifice and it doesn’t “hurt”, is it enough?

  32. My heart tells me to give, but I know there’s a very high chance that they’ll spend that money on alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal drugs.

    This is why I always hand my cash over with a laminated (street dwellers can be so filthy!) list of the legal drugs I will condone their purchase of. Robitussin, Vicodin, and Flintstones Kids are the top 3.

    Seriously–Please let’s not put ourselves in the position of assuming we know what is best for everyone else. The opportunity to be a source for a long term solution is very, very rare. Until someone can explain how buying someone lunch will cure a crack addiction, I will settle for allowing my fellow man the dignity of choosing all by themselves what they would like to do with my $4. And I will then wonder, as I’m hurrying down the street, if maybe I should have given $5.

  33. Yes, just BEING good is best. But WANTING to be good…is good too.

  34. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Scott, so say we all–I wish.

    Matt W., I hear you. Last week over at Blog Segullah we had a firestorm of sorts regarding social trends in plastic surgery. I had to laugh when one of the volleys was (roughly) “How can women spend money on this when there are starving children in the world?” Which is a valid point, of course, but only if we apply it to the full picture. How can I spend money on just about anything (from McDonald’s to piano lessons to new furniture to yet another pair of shoes) when there are starving children in the world, let alone people next door wasting away from disease? And yet I do. I can give you a long list of reasons why, some of them quite convincing and even noble-sounding, but the simple truth is I’ve got a pretty small comfort zone when it comes to making personal and family sacrifices for the benefit of others. And my easy gifts tend to make me complacent about the harder ones I’m not willing to give.

    Which reminds me of Daniel’s point about how rewarding panhandlers can exacerbate the problem you think you’re helping to solve. Daniel, you very well may be right. And Stephanie is right, too, that we are obligated to be wise stewards over our resources. I think CS Eric made smart choices, both in the beginning and in the end. I would not continue to fork over significant resources if I knew they were being squandered.

    But when it comes to giving a few dollars to a beggar, I think that while there’s a risk of perpetuating the obvious problem, there’s a greater risk of perpetuating the more weighty, more subtle problem: suspicion, judgment, hardened hearts, and–ultimately–fingers that point back to us.

  35. For me at least, part of the giving process involves weighing the value of giving my limited funds to different places.
    $5 to a guy on the corner? There’s a slight chance he might use it for something useful. $5 to a soup kitchen or PEF? There’s a much higher chance it will go to something useful.
    Since I don’t have a lot to give right now, I want to make sure that that which I do give will go to a good use.
    With all the poverty and problems in the world, perhaps we should try to be both generous and selective. I don’t care what a person has done to reach their state of poverty, but I don’t want my donated efforts to make things worse for them.
    We’re asked to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. I think that will do people a lot more good than giving them spare change.

  36. Steve Evans says:

    I am so excited that Casey Kasem is finally commenting at BCC! Here’s a long distance dedication for you, Casey!

  37. FWIW, if needy individuals go into the receptionist’s office at the ground floor of the Church Office Building, they can get a free bus pass over to Welfare Square and the folks there will set them up.

  38. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Bob, yes. And that brings me back to Steve’s question. Along with the obvious fact that I was begging for base approval (from Siobhan, God, and the beggar himself) I was also begging in an attempt to manifest goodness in my intentions and desires and actions, despite the simultaneous selfishness that seemingly sucked it dry. Often, this is the best we can do.

  39. Tim, I don’t want to threadjack (too much) or nitpick, but what you described in (35) is different than what you described in (1). It is entirely different (in my mind) to withhold $5 because it’s earmarked for some other cause than to withhold $5 because you’re afraid of how someone will spend it. In other words, you’ve imposed a budget constraint after the fact, so I hope you understand my disagreement with (1).

    Also, my preference rankings are thus:
    1. Give money to missionary fund
    2. Give money to street dwellers
    .
    .
    .
    104. Give money to the evil entity that is CES (sorry, PEF.)

  40. Kathryn, you said it. For fame and glory I’ll put off buying socks for the children until next fall.

  41. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Tim, you’re right: if we only give spare change to help the poor and needy, we’re doing very little indeed. The bulk of my charitable spending is handled through other channels. And yes, I choose them carefully.

    But I think you’re underestimating the value of giving that fiver directly to an outstretched hand rather than a soup kitchen (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with the latter). For the homeless, dignity, choice, humanity, and face-to-face moments of unclouded empathy are vital commodities in very short supply.

  42. I don’t know if I agree with this. We are asked to be responsible stewards over our own stewardship.

    I agree that we should be responsible stewards, but King Benjamin makes it pretty clear in Mosiah 4 that we should not judge those who ask for our resources.

  43. As a person who works in a downtown environment I am faced with this more regularly than I like. Supporting a family on a single income means I rarely even have extra money in my checking account let alone in my wallett, but since I work in a professional Office I dress as if I do, which makes me a target for panhandlers. Most times I have no cash to give. This day of debit cards has made the excuse “I have none to give” very easy and almost automatic out of my mouth. when I do have cash or change I do sometimes give. It depends on my feelings at the time. Sometimes I feel cheated and manipulated after giving and sometimes I feel like I did some good.

    Once I even drove a couple to a cheap fastfood restaurant and bought them hamburgers. Afterwards I pointed out the 2 homeless shelters (one for men, and one for women) but they didn’t want to be separated) so I wished them well and went on my way. Should I have done more? Certainly I could have driven them home and let them spend a warm night in my house, but would I have been putting my family in danger by doing so?

    You can always wonder if you should have done more. And certainly you could have, as could I, however we all recognize there are limits to giving and I hope God looks at whatever giving I do as good works without subtracting those I pass by.

  44. But I remind myself that when facing a beggar, it’s not the beggar’s heart on trial, but my own.

    This the distilled point of the whole thing.

  45. I gave these guys $4, but wondered as I walked away if it should have been $5.

  46. You can also ask if they have change for a $50.

  47. I’ll give change, but I reserve the right to refer to them as “bums.” Unless they have their belongings tied to a stick with a bandanna, in which case they may be “tramps.”

  48. To recap:

    Bandanna/stick: tramps.
    Shopping cart: bums.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    I found a photo of Soper’s scorned beggar here. I thought there was something funny about her.

  50. and hobos you just murder, right?

  51. 104. Give money to the evil entity that is CES (sorry, PEF.)

    What exactly does this mean, Scott B? You don’t like PEF because of the requirement that participants be enrolled in Institute? From the PEF website:

    All money donated to the Perpetual Education Fund is used to provide educational loans. None is used for administrative costs. Full-time administration is provided by Church leaders who donate their time and expertise. Donations to the fund are added to the fund’s corpus, which is invested to balance long-term returns with market risks.

    Earnings from the corpus are the primary source of loans to qualified students.

    I fail to see where money is being given to CES. Am I missing something?

  52. Once I even drove a couple to a cheap fastfood restaurant and bought them hamburgers.

    I tried this time and time again–days on end, really–with an old gentleman I met in Punxsutawney. In the end, he just kept dying on me, though.

  53. Brad, I don’t see why I should be forever labeled a hobo murderer just because I sport-murdered a couple of hobos back when I was in college.

  54. Stephanie,

    I have understood from conversations with former mission presidents in areas where PEF is heavily used that the CES is heavily involved in its administration. I think this is lame, because I think the CES is lame. Mostly.

  55. Also, Brad, there is a colorable self-defense argument to be made.

  56. Well, considering that PEF is administered through church leaders donating their time, it makes sense that CES people could be those leaders. Personally, PEF is my charity of choice, but to each his own.

  57. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Steve, believe it or not, this post is not about beggars with brown eyes. Read it again.

  58. Scott B,

    I believe that the argument was made at the onset of the program that since CES was already present in many of the areas where PEF was making the educational loans, that they would administer it. Perhaps I am naive, but I fail to see where giving to PEF is funding CES. If we are hiring local folks to teach CES in those third world countries, isn’t that also a positive thing?

    As was stated, it’s not the beggar’s heart that is on trial here, but our own. And I found this post made me think about my own charitable giving. Some I am happy about, others, not so much. PEF is a frequent, if not regular, recipient, based on a personal spiritual experience I had at the time that Pres. Hinckley announced the program.

  59. Personally, NARAL is my charity of choice, but to each her own.

  60. (May Kathy forgive me for continuing this)

    Stephanie, Kevinf, etc…CES has been instrumental in deciding what institutions applicants for PEF funds are allowed to use the funds for. I believe that CES’s decisions in this regard are very lame (trade schools only, essentially, for most countries). I believe that a bunch of a career educational bureaucrats are among the last people on earth I would want to oversee the implementation of a program with a stated goal of improving economic hardship.

    /threadjack

  61. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Scott, you’ve been exonerated in exchange for that backstage info about gst.

  62. I honestly wasn’t trying to be snarky, Hunter. Sorry it came across that way.

  63. Justmeherenow says:

    Warning, ramble ahead. At least it addresses a thought in the original post, though. (I think.)
    * * *

    __ What would Jesus do? __

    I’ve asked people for change about three times, duing my callow young adulthood.

    __ I . __
    In, I think, 1980, I was travelling and was short on funds.

    I thought of myself as a “spiritual” person…

    (I’d also been hippy a few years earlier — before my Mormon mission — and had both hitchiked and picked up others who were hitchhikers on many occasions. The occasions were always light hearted: Either I, as the hitchhiker, or the other person as the hitchhiker would goodnaturedly say, maybe, “Hey, thanks!…You can drop me off up here.”)

    …And on this occasion, I had picked up this very awkward-acting hitchhiker. (What would Jesus do?)

    He had this vague, hard luck story about leaving his wife. He didn’t go into much detail and I didn’t ask. He was not easy going whatsoever. Very intense and desparate, eventually expecting me to do x, y, and z for him.

    Meanwhile, I myself am running out of money. “Listen, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m just about out of money,” I said (feeling some desperation myself).

    He was very critical of me (seemingly out of his desperation/moroseness).

    I thought, “He’s critical of me? I’m minding my own business, driving along in a car I own and haved parents I can call for help, and I’m the one giving this mormose guy a ride.”

    But for me to complain of the same to the guy wouldn’t be very Christlike.

    Before I could get to a Western Union office (the only time I’ve ever been wired money in my life, as I recall), I ran out of gas.

    I told my hard luck story to the owner of a country gas station and she fronted me a few dollars to get me down the road. I took her address to mail it back to her.

    After I got the money, I stopped by the post office and mailed some money to the small town gas station lady. (What would Jesus do?)

    My hitchhiker was absolultely critical and appalled that I would do this with the few dollars I had.

    I stoically put up with his comments without comment.

    I refused to sleep in my car with this guy and checked into a “mission” for a free bed in a Western city.

    The hitchhiker was very adamant that he didn’t want to stay at a mission. I thought, “Why is it my responsibility to accomodate his desires? What a weirdo. But I didn’t breath a word of these thoughts to my guest. (What would Jesus do?)

    The next day he complained that a transient in one of the cots had been grinding his teeth and so my travelling companion couldn’t sleep.

    I informed him that I was going to have to separate from him as I really needed to get down the road.

    That tale was extraordinarily rambly. Sorry!

    __ I I . __
    On an earlier occasion (I think in 1976) I ran short of gas money. I also, coincidentally had a hitchhiker with me this time, too: a jovial young black guy. Then I had long hair and a beard, and he joked, “Wow, here we are in the middle of the sticks and you’re a hippy and I’m black!”

    He went up to a truck driver and the truck driver gave him, I think, five bucks for our gas.

    I was amazed. Five bucks! What if we were lying? I was very impressed with the truck driver — I still, to this day, am. However, I can only imagine how often truck drivers are accosted at gas stations for change.

    __ I I I . __
    Sometime in the very early 1980s in Orem, Utah, I pulled my car into a sit-down fast food restaurant francise’s parking lot and went in to use a payphone for what I considered to be a very important phone call. Somehow I didn’t have even as much as a quarter on my person (nor a credit card, of course). I was very nervous and embarrassed to ask, (my tension’s perhaps rendering my requests some “weirdness”) — but I went ahead and asked a few folks if they could spare a quarter for a phone call.

    I believe I was reasonably well dressed. Not too scruffy, nor exactly very polished either.

    I asked several people. Not a one gave me twenty-five cents.

    =====
    A number of thoughts went through my head.

    “Twenty five cents! The heart of devout Mormon country, and a mere pittance shouldn’t be a request that would be so painfull to accomodate.” Then I thought, “Who is so disorganized and incompetent that they end up out and about town without even change for a phone call? Me! That’s who! Why should Oremites be singled out as it being especially important for them to accomodate the requests of those among them who exhibit some undiligence in basic lifeskills? And if I would simply be out and about in Orem trying to gather up qaurters for smack or something, they wouldn’t really be helping me, anyway, would they?

    * * *
    Ironically — or, perhaps not? — if I myself were accosted in a restaurant in Orem (or elsewhre) by a nervous fellow for a quarter for a phone call, there’s more than a good chance I’d decline to provide it.

    On principle.

    I don’t ask people for spare change, so why should I accomodate those who do?

    (On occasion I shell out a bit, just for the heck.)

  64. A number of years ago I actually encountered an old singles-ward roommate of mine, homeless on the streets of a large California city I won’t specify. He was one of the regulars that you see on the street, or sitting in the public library. I was able to buy him food or take him to a restaurant a few times. I wasn’t able to help him much more than that since I was living an hour’s commute away and he preferred to stay in the immediate area. (I think there were mental health issues involved in his situation, which is one of the major categories of homeless people.)

    Anyhow, those encounters affected me. King Benjamin’s words are not just abstract teachings to me. My practice now when giving to beggars (to use the scriptural term) is not to just give money. I first ask the person his or her name, and tell them mine. I usually shake hands with them before leaving. Hopefully, I’ve treated them like a person, and not like a nameless person in a sociological category.

    I know in these interactions that I’m not dealing with the roots of the problem, but sometimes you still have to treat the symptoms.

  65. …we should not judge those who ask for our resources.

    That does not mean that we should not use judgment.

    I think that, in general, the judgment is more important than the actual giving. As the post says:

    …it’s not the beggar’s heart on trial, but my own.

  66. But I remind myself that when facing a beggar, it’s not the beggar’s heart on trial, but my own.

    ….

    You felt that you were a hypocrite because you were only giving money so that you could prove to your non-Mormon friend you were charitable, and thus shining a nice light on your religion

    That did not seem obvious to me from the essay, it wasn’t the point I got.

    So one month, we took that hundred dollars and bought a couple of boxes of food–canned goods, flour, sugar, macaroni, etc. and mailed it to them. They never asked for food money again.

    Interesting, as are the people who are grateful. I’ve been amazed at both.

  67. I believe that CES’s decisions in this regard are very lame (trade schools only, essentially, for most countries).

    Actually, that makes a good deal of economic sense. In terms of bang for the buck, you can’t beat that.

  68. I give to panhandlers because I love it that someone is making money that way. I hope it is a good living.

  69. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Justmeherenow, thanks for taking the time to share those experiences. I’ve gotta say, though, your “principle” makes me sad.

    Zefram, actually, I think your approach does address the roots of the problem–the real roots. Can we clone you?

    TonyD, I agree that the judgment is what matters most. That’s why I’m happy to give spare change to the guys in front of the liquor store. God has given me redemption again and again, knowing full well I’d squander it within hours.

    BobW, the bread you cast upon the waters shall return.

  70. I don’t know much about being Mormon, outside of the amazing book that once arrived in the mail from a dear friend that I have never been able to get through. I do know that you are a precious gem, one of the most giving people I have ever known. While this may not be in the form of a handful of change to someone who may or may not have a genuine need time and time again you give to so many.

    You reach far beyond the scope of your religion. Time and time again you invest your time pouring your heart out to the world sharing your life stories and the stores of others. These stories have changed the lives of many, saving the lives of few who may not have been able to experience the world at all. Your words comfort those in a time of need in a way many others cannot. In this way you are the most giving person I have ever known. I stand in awe of your accomplishments. You are so much more than you give yourself credit for, even when tired and smelling like poop.

    We are all human and regardless of one’s religion I don’t believe many would find this small infraction whereas you failed to provide to someone who asked you for a handout, even though you had change in your purse and could do so, something so wrong it’s worthy of the description as someone who is a hypocrite. Of course this is only my opinion.

  71. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Rebecca, thank you.

  72. Thanks for the compliment, Kathryn. When I was referring to the roots of the problem, I meant the political or societal roots, as Daniel was referring to earlier. Homelessness is a major problem for our society now, and I think the fact that we now take panhandlers and beggars for granted would shock our grandparents and great-grandparents. But even though I know that my small acts of charity aren’t going to solve the bigger macro issues, it’s still the right thing to do. For one thing, it prevents me from falling into the trap of Mormon 8:39.

    My individual acts of compassion can help a few people here and there. Dealing with the bigger issues requires group acts of compassion. My local Calif. stake is very involved with other community churches in providing hot dinners for the homeless at the National Guard armory each winter. That still isn’t really dealing with the root problems, though it is relieving suffering. I also like another group’s approach, which I saw on “NOW on PBS” — http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/305/index.html .

  73. One of the most effective charitable groups around is the Seattle based “Mamma’s Hands”, run by a friend of mine. He, along with groups of volunteers, goes out and feeds the homeless hot dogs one night a week, from a bus that has been donated and fixed up as a mobile kitchen. The food does relieve suffering in the short term, and one could argue the nutritive value of hot dogs, but the real value is in something else he does. He is sponsored by AT&T Mobile (among others), and he has his volunteers get out of the bus and mingle with the homeless while they are eating, in an effort to give them a chance to call home and talk to their families. They carry cell phones, and if someone connects with a family member and wants to go home, he buys them a bus or plane ticket back home. I know he keeps track of how many homeless he has reconnected with families, and he often keeps in touch with them after they have rejoined their families. The food is only a draw to get them to try and remember family or friends and get out of the homeless ranks.

    To me, it was a huge eye opening experience to get out and mingle with these folks. Some of them are mentally ill, some of them are quite happy being homeless, but I was struck by how little different they really were from me. Getting a name, as someone else mentioned above, makes a big difference in how you view a homeless person. Having a conversation with them really humbles you. And seeing someone call a brother or mother they haven’t seen in years, well that’s truly amazing.

    Not many take advantage of the calls, but a few do. Some don’t know a phone number of a loved one, or even where they might be. But this effort does allow a few to really get out of the problem zone where food provides temporary relief and into a place where they can begin really trying to change their lives. What shocked me is that most of the homeless I have spoken with on the couple of times I have done this is that most of the homeless have been that way for a long, long time.

    I also discovered that most of them don’t like ketchup on their hot dogs, just mustard.

  74. I think it is important to recognize, too, that we are limited in what we can give, simply by being mortal. There comes a point when sacrifice becomes self-flagellation, and I don’t believe that that is what is required of us.

    When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, in the midst of a huge flare up, I encountered very real limitations on what I could give without negatively affecting my personal life and my job. I had to learn that it was okay to say no to things I could no longer do, and it was very hard.

    It is very easy to say “I’ll just give a little more here,” but when you say that too many times, you can find yourself in an impossible situation, unable to fulfil any of the commitments you have made.

    Also important, is to recognize that we have emotional limits as well as physical and financial limits. One can easily be swallowed up by other people’s problems, leaving us without the emotional strength and vitality to deal with our own issues and families.

    From Mosiah 4: 27 – And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

    We hear the diligent part, but I wonder if we really hear (in our hearts) the wisdom and order part.

  75. There is an interesting point in all of this: the law of too much and too little. We all generally want to be as altruistic as we can be, but we do not want to disadvantage ourselves too much. I give to the beggar, I have less. I give a lot to the beggar I have a lot less.

    Each one of us has a balance point of between too much and too little. It is a fine line, and in general, each of us walks this line, one step on one side, one step on the other. With too little we feel guilty and avaricious. To much, we feel a little used and cheated. So we walk down this line, each one with his or her own set point.

    Kathryn, you stepped on the guilt side this time. Next time you will feel cheated.

    I have a way of trying not to feel too guilty: I do what I can, but I realize that God made those poor people in disease infested jungles with AIDS epidemics. God knew what he was doing when he spoke to Mohamed and subsequently made suicide bombers and imprisoners of women. If God can rest easy with this crappy world, I can too. I do what I can which means giving to whomever I can to alleviate whatever the problem appropriate to my greedy circumstances. I try not to feel too much guilt nor too much altruism, because whatever I do is but meager. The poor are with us always.

  76. For those interested in becoming Hobos here is a quick guide on how to be a successful hobo:
    http://artofmanliness.com/2009/09/10/how-to-be-a-hobo/

    Hidden in there is a possible employment opportunity for gst.

  77. My grandfather was a hobo in the 30s. He ended up settling in CA to mine gold.

  78. Thomas Parkin says:

    I have an old friend named Siobhan, as well.

    She wouldn’t be considered any threat to my marriage as _she_ already has numerous _wives_. She once told me how charming I was when drunk. There’s a thing: drinking made me charming, and made some other bloke a stinky hobo.

    I’ve twice lived in my car, once for a period of time. I was in a constant state of not drug induced near ecstasy that whole time. I felt like I was really living, really ALIVE! The sun was more the sun, the moon more the moon, the wind more the wind. I always assumed that I could really make that work if I hadn’t had child support to pay.

    I like to talk about my sins, but I discover a sort of bravado begins to enter into it. I have reflected that my only remorse may have been hurting my children, that I might never have really cared much about hurting anyone else. There is another person, a wife of one of my good friends, and one of my dearest loves, on whom my anima constantly projects. I would never have wanted to hurt her, even at my worst. How is it that sometimes our best traits are so misapplied?! Anyone who says that they don’t need Jesus is a filthy liar.

    People they ain’t no good, and of sinners, I am their chief. Do I want points for it? No, but I wouldn’t mind some demerits, and in this I’m trying to help Sister Soper make her point.

    Cool. ~

  79. anon grandma says:

    I drive past 6 stoplights every weekday evening to get on the interstate and there are panhandlers at each one. Every morning I pack my lunch cooler with more than I might need each day. If it’s hot I take more waters/Cokes. As I drive I usually give away what I have left. I also have McDonald’s gift certificates and I give them away when the spirit moves me.
    DH is bishop of the YSA and the building is in an area where we see and meet lots of panhandlers. We really buy theMcD’s for them. I started with the gift certificates when my kids were little and we lived in New Jersey. I struggled with the idea of ignoring beggers while pushing impressionable children in a stroller. No one has ever turned down a cold Coke or a book of McDonald’s coupons. I did not want to be a hypocrite in front of my kids and my workaround became permanent.

  80. My wife and I were driving cross country one December during college when we stopped somewhere in Montana. As we pulled in to a store, there was an older guy out on the corner with a sign. As we pulled in we noticed the guy and had a familiar uncomfortable feeling, wondering what we should do, and looking for a way out. In just a moment all of my usual excuses came to mind. I was trying hard to justify not giving, but King Benjamin’s words were ringing in my ears. We were on a long trip, and we didn’t have much money, but my wife had prepared a bunch of meals and put them into a cooler in the back seat. I thought about driving out the other exit, so we could avoid this guy… For some reason we decided that we could part with a big sub sandwich. It’s really hard to describe what happened next, but as we gave the guy the food, he was so eager to receive it; he just pounced on it. He was so happy. He just kept saying “Oh God bless you”.. and I will never forget the look in his eyes. His gratitude burned right through our selfish hearts. There was traffic behind us, so we just handed it out the window and drove off. The whole exchange took probably 3 seconds. We both burst into tears and cried for probably 10 minutes down the freeway. We were glad that we had given, but we were, and still are, very much ashamed at having given so little.

  81. This is a great post! You always make me think.

    I never feel good about choices in this situation, no matter what I do. When I pass by and give nothing I feel crummy for having a cold heart. When I give, I feel bad that I only gave change when I could have given dollars. After giving to a few, I start passing up people because I feel like I’ve already given enough and I become resentful that my charity did not last as long as the people in need. Once, I set aside just so much money to give to the homeless and then found myself looking (and these are all in big cities with lots of homeless) for just the right person to give it to and ended up giving it to no one. This situation is a guilt generator no matter how it turns out or what you do.

    Motives about why we give are always tainted. I was impressed you worried about it though. That speaks volumes. I’m reminded of the end of Schindler’s list when he agonizes that there were more he could have saved. That’s always true, but at least he tried.

  82. I’ve found I feel less guilty for not giving when I look the bum in the eye and say, “Sorry, pal, not today.” Turns out I was feeling guilty not for not giving, but for ignoring the guy!

    By the way, it’s never “that day” with me. So now, instead of ignoring the fellow, I’m lying to him. Baby steps!

  83. I love giving to panhandlers, because I have a superstition if you always give to panhandlers, you won’t ever have to BE a panhandler. All of us are one stroke or one deportation or one economic downturn away from being desperately poor. I can imagine how poor I would have to feel to be out on the streets begging for change. I would feel completely severed from the neverland world of the prosperous folk.

    So I give because it’s fun to give. In a sense, we’re all just playing these roles and right now my role is that of the prosperous professional. My illness and the exigencies of disability insurance may put me on the other side of the transaction one day soon, but while I’m on this side I’m enjoying the ability to make someone’s day with a $5 or 10 bill or a quarter or whatever it may be. The money is so totally worth more to a street person than it is to me. It’s a delight to see their faces light up. And most of all it’s fun to acknowledge the connection between us. To show by how I look someone in the eye and shake their hand and wish them luck that we’re the same, we’re both human. That it might as well be going the other way.

    Anyone who is pushy or aggressive gets nothing from me. But from those who are humbly asking, I don’t ask what they need it for. It’s obvious! You try living even a day without money!

    I give because it’s totally the fun side of that transaction. It’s cool to be able to bring happiness so easily. I can’t remake our economy, our health care system that impoverishes the sick, or change the fact that I was raised by people who valued education and had tons of books around, and made sure I got a college degree.

    One day I may be the one asking, and when that day comes I hope I can accept people’s generosity with grace and humor. For now, though, I feel very lucky to be able to be the one being asked.

    I totally choose very carefully who gets my charitable dollars, and I like the PEF and kiva because they’re both loans which help people up a notch, but then ask them to turn around and help the next group coming along, they ask for a payback. I don’t blame anyone for deciding that panhandlers don’t meet their standards for accountability, need, or positive outcomes.

    I totally don’t think Kathryn was wrong to hold on to her quarters. I just want to share the joy I find in giving to people who ask me on the street for money. It’s such a fun exchange. I guarantee I’ll meet some of those people again in the Celestial Kingdom if I make it. I bet we’ll remember each other, too. We’re here in this material contingent universe playing our respective roles, but the truth is that we’re all beggars and all kings. That’s the coolest thing about it.

  84. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Wow. I thought this thread was pretty much dead, but then came a crop of fantastic comments. Thank you.

    Tatiana, your extraordinary comment reminds me of a Deseret News article highlighted by Chieko Okazaki in one of her many amazing essays. I’ll never forget the part when the writer asks this elderly man who’d just helped a stranger whether he ever worried about being ‘taken,’ and he replied, “Nope. I just bought myself a good feeling. Cheap. If he’s taking advantage of me, that’s his problem, not mine.”

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/241762/A-LITTLE-COMPASSION-BUYS-A-GREAT-FEELING.html

    Beggars and kings, indeed.

  85. a homeless guy outside salvation army asked me for a cigarette once so I gave him one and he said “Thanks! I’ll put you on my christmas list.” Made my day…

  86. Thought provoking Kathryn, thank you.
    I just tuned in after reading most comments I scrolled down and was going to add my 2 cents and read your comment #86 regarding Chieko Okazaki’s essay.
    One time while out with my children a panhandler approached and I gave him some money. A lady nearby quickly approached to tell me that “he was going to buy beer with that money” I told her I hoped not, but, I had chosen to give and what he did with the money was his choice. That sparked a discussion with my 8 and 10 year olds where I explained that giving wasn’t about what the other person may or not do but about what you do. If I was making a donation that I wanted to be applied to something specific I would donate to that cause or organization. If I give to a panhandler (and I don’t always) I figure that they have some need or they wouldn’t be there, it’s not for me to decide if their need is acceptable to me. Just my pov.

  87. re: 83 LOL, that is awesome.

    I’m even worse (quel surprise). While I never give money to panhandlers here, for some reason when overseas I tend to do so. This is particularly true when I have been in developing areas. Perhaps this is because my guilt threshold is fixed somewhere between the homeless guy in front of the Beverly Center who I see every day and the mother-and-child-in-tatters who tugged at my sleave in China. Or maybe it’s just because I didn’t know how to say “Back off!” in Cantonese.

  88. Gosh, that comment makes me sound heartless. Just to clarify: there are compassionate, reasonable, generous people who choose not to give cash directly to people begging on the street. (Like gst, perhaps) There are better ways to help them. I really like the food-voucher programs that are available in some cities, although such a program has turned the McDonalds at the end of my block into a veritable burger-kitchen for the homeless. Only in America!

  89. Great, McDonalds. We’re going to be the only country in the world with fat bums!

  90. “. . . the only country in the world with fat bums!”

    Nice double entendre!

  91. KLS, this is a really good post. Generally I lean toward the philosophy that our outward actions matter more than what’s in our hearts, but what’s in our hearts still matters a great deal–not to the person on the street so much, but to ourselves.

  92. Some people live from the premise of guilt their whole lives and never get free from pick pick picking at themselves.

  93. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Some people live from the premise of pride their whole lives and never get free from pick pick picking at others.

  94. The point I was making really was not to judge the author but only to say I identify. Many women feel they can never be enough or do enough to be worthy enough. How can you feel real joy with that constant idea that because you didn’t give that one time you are missing a charity chip. I work to liberate myself from this idea and try and focus on knowing my imperfections are covered by the blood of Christ as I move forward. I shake it off and choose right. Sometimes I choose wrong and learn something right from it. I suppose that is the message to be gained from the article.

  95. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Sorry, Lyndieloo. I am indeed missing many charity chips (case in point).

    But the fact that I tend to count charity in chips (great metaphor, btw) is the whole problem. Or, at least, a significant part of it.

  96. I have to say one more thing. This is why I love you all Kathryn. You drew me into your fold because of your love and service, wonderful families and humble spirits. Without your charity I would not have known the fullness of the gospel. Enough said from me! Take care all. I can’t believe I even get the privelege of calling you my family.

  97. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Lyndie, the privilege is all ours.

  98. Is the point just to give or is the point to improve someone’s circumstances? The first does not even acknowledge others, it is all about “me”. I think it is probably a rare thing for an American to not be able to find assistance of some sort…if they are looking. Where I think we are culpable is our failure to include the world as part of our stewardship. Do I really “give” if my fast offerings are used to maintain middle class lifestyles when I give with a view of countless people who will never experience even one “square meal” in their lifetime? I know of two people who quietly provide for some in third world countries. One works with a local church member and pays the cost for every child in a South American village to go to school. They give.

  99. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Is the point just to give or is the point to improve someone’s circumstances?

    Have you read Mosiah 4 lately?

    The first does not even acknowledge others, it is all about “me”.

    I could say the same about the reverse.

    I think it is probably a rare thing for an American to not be able to find assistance of some sort…if they are looking.

    You’re free to think that.

    Where I think we are culpable is our failure to include the world as part of our stewardship.

    Who’s “we?” Speak for yourself, please.

    Do I really “give” if my fast offerings are used to maintain middle class lifestyles when I give with a view of countless people who will never experience even one “square meal” in their lifetime?

    Not sure why you’re limiting yourself to fast offerings. In any case, please don’t assume all of “us” do.

    I know of two people who quietly provide for some in third world countries. One works with a local church member and pays the cost for every child in a South American village to go to school.

    Fantastic!

    They give.

    There are as many variations of “give” as there are variations of “they.” Feeding the hungry around the corner is no less worthwhile than feeding the hungry across the ocean.

  100. If I have some change and I am in the mood I will give money to people on the streets. I was raised in a super liberal, anti-Reagan home that blamed the GOP for every homeless person because they cut funding for mental care facilities…so I assume the majority of homeless folks have mental health issues and therefore may not be able to decide how to best use the funds (spending $5 at McDonalds vs. on a loaf of bread and a jar of PB that will last you several meals for example.) I was told once that giving to a soup kitchen in the community was the best way to help support homeless folk. Some communities have more soup than takers which is another indicator that perhaps resources are already available that are not used wisely (maybe or maybe I am wrong and there are a lot of people hard on their luck who do not fall into these categories.)

    So you sound like a very generous and giving person and I think that the fact that you regularly give and then you did not is due to a stressful moment prompted your feelings, but if your question is about whether or not you actually give it sounds like you do: you give the benefit of the doubt. That seems to be a gift that blesses both you and the recipient.

  101. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Thanks, Lee. I’m afraid I didn’t give Juliann the benefit of the doubt, though.

    Juliann, I apologize. My perspective differs from yours, but I should’ve made my points in a less inflammatory way, particularly in a thread about helping others. Hypocrisy strikes again!

  102. The “giving” was clearly “to be seen of men” – or at least the visiting friend. How is it possible for Kathryn to see beyond her own pretense? How is it possible for her to even truly have this visiting person as a “friend” when all she sees in her is a “prospective baptism”???

    Insincerety is the heart of hypocrisy. Putting on a show for a “friend” in the hope that they will be impressed (self-righteousness incarnate!) and then consider joining the Church – amazing! Please see Matthew 23:15:

    “15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

  103. Steve Evans says:

    I’m just surprised there aren’t more scriptures telling people not to act like total dinks. Got a reference for that sort of prohibition, Hank?

    I thought not.

  104. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    (self-righteousness incarnate!)

    Your words, Hank.

  105. I am not one of those literary types, so help me out here. Is it “irony” or “hubris” or just plain “hypocrisy” for Kathryn to post an apparently self-deprecating blog entry in which she confesses her hypocrisy, and then to attack and vilify those who AGREE with her in saying she was being a hypocrite?

    Hmmmm

  106. Steve Evans says:

    I don’t think you need a background in literature to know the meaning of the word “dink,” Hank. In case you were curious as to why you’re being attacked and vilified, that is. But it’s my guess you know that already. See you around.

  107. We’ve had a few folks asking for help around our store from time to time over the years. I’ve helped them out when asked. Some never take that bus that will take them home. Some started sweeping outside around the store, others would keep a lookout for “unsavory” types that might try to do our store harm. I miss them when they move along.

    I identify with the lying thing. Makes me physically ill when I cross that line. I am not a good liar.

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