Month: December 2014


According to the OCA, the Orthodox Church teaches that we do not have to follow the 10% tithe in a legalistic fashion–as in, you must give 10% first to the church out of your gross income no matter how much you have left, etc.  Rather, the principal is to give what we can, not grudgingly (when we can’t afford a tithe and the utility bill) or giving only 10% when we can easily afford more.

The point is to give the “first portion” before paying our other bills, to give what we can with thanksgiving, without comparing ourselves to others.  If you can afford it, you should tithe ten percent; if you can afford more, give more; if you can’t afford ten percent, give what you can manage.  The Orthodox Church also disagrees with the Prosperity Gospel. —Giving to the Church

The New Testament does not explicitly promote or encourage tithing per se, that is, the offering of one tenth of one’s income to the Church.  Instead, the New Testament promotes the concept of ‘proportionate giving’, which may even exceed the ten percent limitation denoted by the word ‘tithe’.” —Michael Makridis, Christian Stewardship and Tithing

You hear people grumble about giving to the Church, or say, “God doesn’t need my money.”  No, but your church does–to pay the preacher, pay the light bill, pay the insurance premiums, etc. etc.

So while a legalistic form of tithing–i.e., “It is required to pay 10% or else you are sinning and God will not bless you”–is wrong and oppressive, giving to your church is still needed.

Maybe large churches with lots of rich givers will survive if some people give nothing, but a large number of churches are small and can barely afford to keep the lights on.

And keep in mind that many clubs and unions have dues.  Orthodox churches often used to have dues, but in recent years have turned to stewardship (voluntary proportional giving) instead.

It is not wrong to ask for our money to keep the club, union or church going.  It is good to strive for that 10% tithe, or beyond.

It is, however, wrong to frighten people into it with threats of God’s punishment, or to tie them with legalistic bonds that are not part of the Gospel.

There are many reasons–poverty or debt, for example–why many households simply cannot pay that 10%.

You should not force them into it while also telling them to paste a smile on their faces, as they drop their rent money in the collection plate.

The landlord or the credit card company or the bank or the IRS will not be swayed by, “I gave your money to the church.”

The New Testament makes very little reference to tithing and when it does it is in reference to Israel’s paying its taxation to the national government. At no time does the New Testament ever suggest nor even hint that the tithe is exacted upon the Christian.  The New Testament is concerned with free will giving.

The Gospel of Luke (6:38) tells us that giving is an investment. ‘Give and it shall be given unto you.’  What you invest with God you receive in dividends.

Giving is an investment with God and the return is an eternal yield. Be sure your priority of investing is with God. Because wherever you put your treasure, that is where you will put your heart….

Giving is a matter of attitude. Remember what Solomon said? What is new? Nothing! The system of giving is the same. We learn what we choose to learn.

Where is your treasure? What is really important to you? Giving is sacrificial. It is not the amount. It is what it costs you to give. Even when there is little there is much when God is in it.

….Experience has told us that the most fair and equitable guideline to contribute is one hour’s pay per week or five dollars per week for every ten thousand dollars of gross income. It is fair and represents the abilities of individual communicants of all walks of life.

….We become short-sided and narrow-minded when we concern ourselves more with what others give (or for that matter do not give) and concern ourselves about what others will think about our gift (no matter how large or small it may be).

When giving a gift to God, the measure does not show in the ‘how much category’ or the ‘tally’ of the amount given, but God measures what type of true sacrifice was made, (whether the gift was a gift that had meaning to it or not) or one that merely fulfilled a sense of obligation.

….In I Corinthians 16.1-2, St. Paul encourages us to lay aside contributions regularly to meet the needs of God’s work in an amount that is in proportion to the blessings that we have received.

This means that the amount of our commitment is based on each member’s means, conscience and faith; there is no minimum or maximum amount required.

Your Stewardship Commitment is a reflection of your love for God and the Church and will express your commitment to insure and promote the future of our Church.

If, however, you would like a suggested guideline for making a pledge, you may want to consider starting with the ‘one hour’s pay per week’ rule of thumb.

Of course, the scriptural call for which we should strive is found in 2 Chronicles 31-15, in which the Lord asks that we offer a ‘tithe’ (or ten percent) of our first fruits back to the Lord. —GOARCH, A Collection of Sermons on Stewardship Ministry

The Catholic Church also agrees that tithing 10% is an Old Testament obligation, one which Christians are released from.  Adults are to give what they can, cheerfully, to support their churches, but churches are not to force a particular percentage–which is called extortion:

To paraphrase: God doesn’t demand a fixed amount of money from us; he wants us to give from the heart.

If people are forced by their church to give a certain percent of their income, that’s extortion. If they give freely and cheerfully the amount they are able, that’s a gift. —Quick Questions  (fourth question down on the page)

Sometimes people misunderstand, so I will restate: By no means is tithing 10% something we should not do.

Rather, tithing 10% is a good thing we should all strive for, even go beyond if we can, but it is not required if we cannot afford it even while living modestly within our means.

(If you’re living extravagantly and say you can’t afford the tithe, then you need to cut back on your “frills.”)

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church


Torn Between Three Men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–February 1995, Part 5

I found a note for Friday, February 10 to work on our Chaucer seminar presentation with Catherine after work.  But it wasn’t all about homework: She said I should write a letter to Cugan and ask him about the SCA, his persona, whether or not he played Dungeons and Dragons, etc.

She gave me several suggestions for questions, all of which I included.  She also wanted a copy of the letter when I finished it.

I believe Cugan already gave me a list of shire addresses; I saw from this his real name, and that he lived in M–.  I’d never been to M–, so it seemed remote and cool.  Writing a letter made me nervous, but also excited.

On the top of a piece of paper, I took notes on versification, which Catherine and I chose for our seminar presentation.  In the lower right corner, I wrote what Catherine said I should say.  I probably had no idea what to say, so she wanted to help me and make sure I wrote that letter.

I kept the letter non-flirty, to test Cugan to see what he was like.  But Catherine wrote in my notes that I should include “Sultry Attraction” and “Nyssa–Coy Wanton Advances.”

I wrote, “Catherine doesn’t know if she can go [to next meeting]–could he take me,” and Catherine wrote under it, “and ravish me?  When & Where.”  After the close, she wrote, “I want your body and I want it NOW!!!”

I knew better than to speak of his sultry attraction, say “I don’t know if you noticed my coy, wanton advances,” or ask him to ravish me.  Besides being out of character for me, these words would scare him off before I had a chance to start anything.

That night, I also went shopping, probably with my roommies and friend Mike.  We often went to the grocery store, usually Pick ‘N Save, on Friday nights.  We joked about how other people would party on Friday night, and our party was going to the grocery store.

On Sunday, February 12, my friend Helene took me to see Little Women, the version with Susan Sarandon and Wynona Rider, which recently started playing in the S– Marcus Theater (where I saw most movies during college).

First she took me to her small, two-story house, where I met her two daughters and saw a plaque on the wall commemorating her late husband, who died in a plane crash several years before.

In those days, a matinee cost $4.50.

I loved the way the movie was done.  You could tell during close-ups that they were going for a more accurate, makeup-free look even on the women.  Some may have been made up, such as society girls, but not Marmee, Jo, Meg or Beth.  In the grainy look of a movie on a big screen, these characters looked much more true-to-life than movie characters often do on a TV screen.

Helene nudged me and said Winona Ryder reminded her of me.  Especially in her role as Jo with long hair, I could see what she meant.  I don’t think we would pass as doubles, but we were close to the same age, and I could see similarities in our appearance.

Though Jo March and Laurie would have made a good couple, when Professor Baer appeared, I wanted him and Jo to be together.  In this movie, he was played by Gabriel Byrne, a handsome man with a distinctive, dignified appearance.  This was the first time I saw him in a movie, and after that, whenever I saw him playing another character I’d remember him as Professor Baer.

Despite one biographer’s thoughts that Louisa May Alcott deliberately took a passionate relationship with Laurie away from Jo and gave her a passionless relationship with an older man–which, to the biographer, couldn’t be passionate because he was much older than Jo–I thought those two had marvelous chemistry.

And come on, a young woman can certainly have a passionate relationship with an older man!  Just ask Celine Dion.

As I watched it, I also thought of Krafter and Stimpy, and my own struggle to figure out which one I wanted.  Krafter was my Prof. Baer, and Stimpy was my Laurie, because Krafter was much older (as he seemed then) and Stimpy was closer to my age (though a youngster to me).

I thought maybe I preferred the older one, Krafter.  I wasn’t sure, though.

At 7pm, Catherine and I met again about our seminar presentation.  She came to my room; I gave her a copy of my letter to Cugan.

We spoke of versification and our seminar presentation for a short time, but the bulk of our time was spent talking of other, more important things.  We sat on the floor of the study room beside my desk and talked for what may have been a few hours.

She hated Phil, didn’t think we should have been together.

I said, “You should have said something back then.”

She said, “I tried to tell you once.”  It was in April, right after she and Rachel came to see me and inadvertently started an argument between us because I wouldn’t convert to Catholicism, but she wasn’t clear enough for me to catch it.

She said, “The next time I see you with a guy you shouldn’t be with, I’ll come right out and say, ‘Get out now!  Break up with him!  Get away from him!'”  Of course, she also asked, “If I did say something, would you have listened?”


One night, somewhere between the 12th and 18th, Sharon wasn’t able to come with us, but Krafter took Stimpy and me to his house.  Actually his parents’ beautiful house, where he lived in an awesome basement suite: a few small rooms formed with posts and black tarp or trash bags.

His bed was in one room, and chairs, a full entertainment system with TV, VCR and stereo, and several computers were in another.

My new “geek” friends preferred jeans and T-shirts.  I began to wear T-shirts around them instead of long-sleeved dressy shirts, to fit in.

Krafter played music on the stereo system with the lights off, to impress me with his setup: surround sound and blinking lights everywhere.

He played his videotape of the last TCB user picnic, from the summer of 1994, of which he planned to scan stills into the TCB files for users to download.  I got to see a whole bunch of people I’d met and was yet to meet online:

There was Peter and his girlfriend of the time, who I thought was the same girl I met earlier that year in the lunch line.

There was Stimpy, Krafter, Stimpy standing under a tree talking with his good friend Teri (a buxom, pretty girl).  As far as I knew, they never dated, which surprised me.  Maybe she always had another boyfriend, or maybe she wasn’t interested.  I couldn’t imagine Stimpy not being interested in her at some point.

I didn’t see Avenger or Ish Kabibble, but Lima was there with Pamela.  This was obviously while they were still together and happy.  Lima wore a weird jester’s cap that was popular with the girls there.

Everyone wore “Hi my name is” stickers, though Lima and Pamela kept switching theirs.  I already knew about the Lima and Pamela saga.

A few of the younger kids were there, as was Stubby, a hobbit-like, cute guy of about Stimpy’s age.  Someone asked him as the camera focused on him, “Why are you called Stubby?” and laughed.

Krafter and Stimpy introduced me to the British sitcom The Young Ones.  We watched six episodes.  This mid-80s show, once on MTV, was about four college boys living together in a horrendously dirty apartment.  (Think frat house and multiply it 100 times.)

One, Vivian, a punk with star rivets in his forehead and spiked hair, tended to get violent and/or yell at everyone even in ordinary conversation.  This was probably a reaction to his feminine name (Vivian was once a masculine name, but I guess even in England it wasn’t anymore).

Neil was a hippie-type with long, dark hair and jeans.  I liked him: He was sweet.  Sharon once said he reminded her of me because of his hair.

Rik called everyone fascists.  Mike was short and had a way with the ladies.  It was the most insane show I’d ever seen, and I loved it.

Example: Everyone decides it’s about time to go to the laundromat, because their socks are starting to run away.  However, when they try to put the clothes, which are now life forms, into the washing machine, the clothes try to get away and have to be forced in.  Then the machine spews them out.  Scene here.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:


%d bloggers like this: