Thinking Out Loud

June 7, 2009

Trumpeting Your Offering

Filed under: Christian, Jesus, philanthropy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:56 pm

Titles Wordle

So there we were, on the website of a well-known, Canadian,  Christian organization making a donation by credit card.   You know the kind.   They trust you to be able to type your name and address alright, but when it comes to your state or province, you have to defer to a drop-down menu in case you mess it up.

Only this site also had a drop-down for “title.”   Mr.  Mrs. Ms.  Rev.  Dr.   Only it didn’t stop there.   There were all these:

Bishop
Brigadier
Brother
Cadet
Canon
Captain
Chaplain
Chief
Col. (ret)
Colonel
Commissioner
Deacon
Dean
Directeur
Doctor
Envoy
Evang.
Father
General
Governor
Hon.
Judge
Lt.
Lt. Col.
M.
Major
Mayor
Minister
Ministre
Miss
Mme
Mr.
Mr. Justice
Mrs.
Mrs. Brig.
Mrs. Capt.
Ms.
Msgr.
Officer
Pastor
Pasteur
Premier Ministre
Prime Minister
Professor
Rabbi
Rev.
Doctor
Rev. Fr.
Right Rev.
Senator
Sister
St.
Supt.
The Hon.
The Most Rev.
The Rev.
The Rev. Dr.
The Right Honourable
The Right Rev.
Pastor and Mrs.
The Venerable

…plus a couple I didn’t include.    For you Americans, the M. and Mme. represent Monsieur and Madame; and the inclusion of Prime Minister in both English and French is appropriate if Stephen Harper decides to donate, but there’s no such option for President in case Barak decided to donate to this group, nor Her Royal Highness or HRH should the Queen decide to throw some money their way.

My wife noticed that the military designations tended to be upper level.  There was no Sgt. or Cpl.    And the St., meaning  ‘saint’ was just too funny.   Bet they get a lot of saints donating.    We also wondered how many rabbis donate to this very Christian organization.   And who knew that Evang. was now the official abbreviation for Evangelist?   Of course, we both noticed that there was no option for ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ collectively, which was the very one we were seeking.

Christians are very hung up on prestige and position.   The faith that encourages people that “the last shall be first” and that “those who humble themselves will be exalted” still puts a premium on earthly achievement.   At the end of the day, if Pastor Joe Smith is donating $50.00; I’m not sure it matters that he’s a pastor if he’s just donating in his own name.   And the tax department doesn’t need the title on his receipt.

What pomp!  What fanfare!

Imagine someone like the woman in Jesus described in “The Widow’s Mite” story negotiating a website like this in our century.    Just wants to make a small donation, but hey,  look at all those important titles.   If they have that kind of people donating, then perhaps they can cover all the needs.   Maybe my “two mites” aren’t really needed here.

This led me to think of the classic passage in James’ epistle on favoritism.   When someone comes into your church, do you ask to see their titles?   Of course, from there it was a short jump to thinking about the letters that come after a person’s name.   How can we avoid thoughts of status and preference when pastors measure academic degrees among themselves. MDiv.  MTh.  MThS.  MA.  PhD.  Etc.

Thankfully, in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, rich nor poor, slave nor free.    Though I’ll compromise on leaving the Mr., Miss or Mrs. option on the form.  Okay, Ms., too.   Then again, that’s the ‘male nor female’ thing; why not just ask for names?

Graphic: Wordle.net

Suggested reading for those with titles:  Mark Sanborn’s You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader.

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