Just how much is “some” of 1.4 million dollars?

February 23, 2011

I know NASCAR is heavily Christian-oriented so it’s not overly surprising to learn that this year’s winner of the Daytona 500, Trevor Bayne, praised Jesus for the win. He came away with $1.4 million and no doubt offers to throw his “youngest winner ever!” face on some cereal boxes, if he’s not on them already.

The Rev. Lonnie Clouse, a former NASCAR chaplain, says Bayne was a regular at his Bible studies and chapel services. Clouse now works at Back2Back orphanages in Monterrey, Mexico, where Bayne volunteered for several days in December.

Clouse says Bayne called him after winning the race, and they prayed together and agreed that God had given Bayne a platform to proclaim his faith and speak up for orphans in need.

I can’t help but wonder about the sum of the some that will be given to Back2Back Ministries. How much of whatever dollar value it is will wind up helping the orphans and how much will be used to advertise the fact that a NASCAR winner gave them money therefore you should, too?

Cynical much? A little too much, maybe. But publicity is publicity and maybe Back2Back was in dire need of some? I doubt Bayne would say he’s being used here, but isn’t he? He phoned them so it’s his choice, I guess, and a noble one, if he really is doing it for the kids rather than the resulting mental image of him being a saviour for children in need. I’d have more respect for him and his wish to help had it not been so obvious and advertised, is all. But then how would anyone know, right? Heaven forbid he be a generous and anonymous donor. He just won the Daytona 500! NASCAR’s goodness needs a bit of publicity too, no doubt…


Some toys not good enough for Salvation Army

December 11, 2010

And by good, I mean that there are actually toys considered too evil for that charity to pass along to children wanting presents Christmas morning. Apparently anything to do with Harry Potter or the Twilight series has to be “disposed of” rather than donated.

The man called himself an admirer of the Salvation Army and was impressed by the massive quantity of toys collected in city malls, schools and police stations through the Toy Mountain campaign.

But he questioned why the charity would be sifting out Harry Potter and Twilight toys, which involve sorcery and vampire themes, respectively.

“I was told to withhold a six-inch Harry Potter figure, but when I picked up a plastic M-16, I was told, ‘That’s for the 10-year-olds,'” he said.

“I was shocked…war-themed toys and toys from TV shows and movies with far more violence than Harry Potter and these were considered appropriate toys?”

The Sally Ann refuses to distribute the Twilight and Harry Potter toys because of their wizardry, vampire and werewolf content, said Capt. Pam Goodyear.

“The Salvation Army is based on Christian principles, so these things are not in line with those,” said Goodyear.

Whereas death and war and violence are all part of the glorious word of god and therefore okay to promote in terms of gift-giving?

Makes sense to me.
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Sorry. That was just my brain melting. It’s better now. Apparently they’d prefer if toys promoting violence were left out of the gift giving, too, but it’s not as firm a ban as witchcraft, werewolves and wizardry are. After all, what’s more dangerous?

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Religions aside, it’s all for a good cause…

September 9, 2010

Couple different stories – one away, one local.

Praise bands got together for a food fundraiser recently in the Mississippi Valley.

“It’s important, helping all of the people who are not as fortunate as we are,” Jacob Canty, 15, of Davenport said..

Proceeds will assist New Hope’s food pantry, part of Churches United of the Quad-City Area’s food ministries, and other hunger-relief efforts. The first event occurred in 2008, and the money raised then went to flood relief.

Coordinator Tony Kingsley of Davenport hopes to make the battle an annual event.

“It’s not really a battle. It’s a way to get all the praise bands together,” he said.

In years past, the food pantry would attract larger crowds on the last two Thursdays of the month – when people’s food stamps had ran out. However, with the quivering economy, pantry volunteers are busy keeping up with demand every Thursday.

“New Hope is just a small church, and the food pantry serves lots of big families. We serve all walks of life for the food pantry,” Evangelica vocalist Linda Canty of New Hope Church said.

This is a fine thing they do, even if religion has to be part and parcel in the food delivery. At least they’re putting something together that benefits their community’s physical health as much as the spiritual.

Yorkton, Saskatchewan, had a major flood occur on Canada Day (which I forgot about when I tried to request a CD from there..their library was hit hard and what little they could salvage worth loaning out is only available locally at the mall until further notice). They held a few fundraisers of their own, concerts included.

More than 700 tickets were sold for the night. On Monday, the preliminary total showed more than $30,000 raised, with liquor and silent auction sales still being counted.

“It was a total community effort,” Kohlert said. “Everybody was more than anxious to work for the cause.”

A second flood relief concert was held two nights later by “The Rock” 100.5 FM. All performers at this concert were from the Yorkton area.

“We’re a radio station, so we love promoting local Christian artists,” said the station’s general manager, Dennis Dyck.

Two artists, Rayanne Ottenbreit and the band Wired by Fire, participated in both of the weekend’s shows.

Originally planned as an outdoor concert, rain forced the event inside to Heritage Baptist Church, but turnout was still strong. Over 200 people were in attendance.

All money at this event was collected through a free will offering. Proceeds for the evening totaled about $1200, to be split between the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

“We’re very pleased,” said Dyck.

The Red Cross is at least a secular organization so yay for that. I wonder why Mr. Dyck had to be so specific about the kinds of artists they promote. If I’m ever in Yorkton, I think that’s going to be the last station I’ll tune into if that’s all they play. But anyway, congrats to the people in Yorkton and area that could put some money towards helping out. You done good, gang.

While it’s great to see Wal-Mart topping charts for charitable donations

August 12, 2010

and they do, as evidenced by USA Today’s handy graphs, what those graphs don’t do is break down how much is given by Wal-Mart corporate and how much is given by Wal-mart customers and staff. There are always paper flags waving around every one of those stores showing all the dollars customers are giving for good causes. Hands or hearts or colourful squares, autographed by every donor. Thousands of them, every day, across North America.

How many of those dollars are being matched by the head honchos? I would be willing to bet a cookie that the main reason Wal-Mart is a chart topper is because they’ve got the largest piece of the consumer pie as it is. And they are forever begging for money from their customers. And, credit to them, their customers are always willing to shill out a little more for a good cause. After all, it’s only a dollar.

Every single time they come into a store and buy something.

Wal-Mart counts those paper flags as sales, you know. You have to buy that paper before you’re allowed to write on it.

But don’t stop buying them, for goodness sake. It’s for a good cause, after all. It’s making a difference. For all I hate about Wal-Mart cornering markets, at least they’ve cornered the market on donation guilt in the process. You can’t walk through one of those stores and not be impressed by how much money has been raised for whatever is the charity of the week.

And if the vibrant displays don’t cow you into adding a buck or two to your purchase, the beady eyes of your cashier will help. She’ll be surrounded by the bloody things. She’s probably had to staple hundreds of them together, too, and climbed on the tills to hang them up because nobody else would be around to help her do it. And she will, for the most part, be willing to insist on getting more of them. She might even win a prize if she gets more papers signed than her competition.

It might be the highlight of her sad career if she wins.

I’m all for doing a good deed, but…

December 5, 2009

…am I too cynical when I feel like asking why the deed’s been done?

A Christian group will once again camp out in front of City Hall and offer to pay off up to $10,000 dollars in parking tickets for any passersby.

Organizers say the Dec. 12 event is an example of how easy it is to receive God’s grace.

We’ll pay your parking ticket, but you have to give your soul to Jesus or burn in hell.

What a deal.

The Grace Gift Parable giveaway was first held in 2004, when Treasure Valley church leaders doled out nearly $7,500 to delinquent parkers, including one woman who arrived with more than a dozen tickets.

Montie Ralstin, Jr., the pastor at Boise Valley Christian Communion, says the event is to help people understand that even though they’ve made mistakes, forgiveness is available.

So they can’t do it just to be nice in a hectic festive season. They’re doing it to prove they’re holier and more virtuous than anyone else, yes?

I wonder how much of that “nearly $7500” went to that one woman’s inability to watch a clock. I wonder if her habits have improved or if she still hangs onto all of them every year on the hopes that this gang will pay them again. I wonder if others have done the same.

Forgiveness is all well and good, but are they really helping people solve a money problem? No. This might boost church attendance, but it’ll take more than a “thank you Jesus” to make these delinquents better time and money managers.

I’ve never had a parking ticket in my life. I’ve never had a speeding ticket. I’m too law abiding to disregard speed limits and meter readers. I don’t credit a deity for my ability to bring enough change and/or leave earlier, either. And, I’d rather overpay a meter than get a fine for underpaying, you know? Why more people don’t think that way is beyond me.

The $10,000 for this year’s event was donated by area businesses and the Christian Churches of the Treasure Valley.

How much of the ten grand is coming from business coffers? Are they getting credit for the good deed as well, or will Treasure Valley act as if all the money is theirs, look how saintly we are to give this all away.. ?

Next year, how’s about people agree to follow the laws of the land, as well as laws of the gods, eh?

When deciding to help the poor and downtrodden…

November 13, 2009

…do it for them. Not for yourself, so you can feel heroic. Not for your wife so she can brag to her bridge club. Not for your parents or someone you admire that thinks you ought to. Do it because it needs doing and you want to do all you can to help someone get through troubled times.

Amy Henry at WORLDmag.com mentions a book called Same Kind of Different as Me, written in part by another WORLDmag contributor (was that the only reason she read it?). She explains part of this true story where Ron’s wife has had some “prophetic” dream about a man he’s supposed to help and lo and behold, Ron finds a man fitting his wife’s supposed description (probably along the lines of “He was black” — sorry, in the mood to be snarky). His wife insists God’s telling him to help the guy, but

Well-acquainted with those volunteer types at the local mission, Denver sees right through Ron’s half-hearted attempts to befriend him: “If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release,” he says. “Then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend. . . . But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.”

The couple does wind up befriending Denver, who returns the favour gladly. Happy couple, happy poor man, book deal, money made, the end.

Amy finishes her commentary by saying, “As fishers of men, catch and release should never be our policy.”

Do they have to be caught by a rod approved by Christ or can anyone do it? I think anyone can choose to reach out and be a friend to someone who needs one without wrapping the net of Christianity around him or her at the same time. Couples like Ron and Debbie mean well, obviously, but are they helping because someone really needs it, or are they driven more by some desire to demonstrate what good Christians they are?

Sorry. I know I shouldn’t assume everyone has ulterior motives at the root of everything they do. Not everyone acts to further some divine ambition, consciously or otherwise. At some point we just have to trust a person’s sincerity, otherwise nobody moves forward.

So, well done, Ron and Debbie, for wanting to make a difference in someone’s life. We all should aim to do the same and mean it when we do.

Pastor swims for African kids so they don’t have to

September 24, 2009

What Mike Solberg swam was the English Channel, hoping to raise money for African kids in need of a decent school. The editor or proofreader of this piece better look into attending it:


Thought I’d better preserve that before someone fixes their whoopsie. “Shchool” is the new word of the day. If you can’t figure out how to pronounce it, just sound it out. Hooked on Phonics worked for me…

But enough mockery. Congratulations Reverend Solberg for doing something few would dare attempt, especially for such a noble reason.

It took the reverend 13 hours and 31 minutes to swim from Samphire Hoe, England, to Wissant, France, on Saturday — a 21-mile swim.

“I actually enjoyed the majority of the swim,” the reverend wrote on his blog. “Hours 1-5 were good. Sometime between hour 5-6 it transitioned in a not good time that lasted until 9 hours. Hours 9-11.5 were pretty enjoyable actually. Then the last two hours were pretty tough.”

Solberg is senior pastor of Second Congregational Church in Rockford.

His goal is to raise $50,000 to build a school in Waku Kungo, Angola. So far, he’s raised more than $30,000.

Overall, he says it was a great experience.

Of course, they’ll be “encouraged” to follow a brand new faith in their brand new school, but hopefully they’ll also get a great education at the same time, something they might never get otherwise.

Congrats again Rev. Solberg and good luck with the fund raising.

edited to fix a whoopsie of my own. Irony, thy delight is 1minion. I had written “Congratulations Reverend Solberg for doing someone..” Wish I would’ve noticed it before I posted. Sorry about that everybody.