Saturday, December 19, 2009

Salvation Army

Every year, in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there's a Salvation Army bell-ringer posted by the entrance to the local Publix supermarket.

In general, I find evangelism and missionary activity (of any kind and any creed) distasteful. But when it comes to the Salvation Army, I've always reached into my wallet to slip a five-spot into the bell-ringer's red can. Why?

I guess it's because the S.A.'s activities seem less exploitative than other forms of missionary activity. I have the impression—perhaps mistaken—that the helping comes first at the S.A. and the preaching of God's Word is secondary. (I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has actually received assistance from the S.A. to share their experience in this regard.)

Far too many "people of faith" profess a creed but do not put those beliefs to work to help their neighbors. I am therefore pleased when a Christian group puts down their Bibles to minister to the non-spiritual needs of the poor and suffering. There are 200 million some-odd Christians in the U.S. but far, far fewer who act "Christlike."

I have no problem with giving help to those who need it and, should the needy want spiritual guidance, too, giving them that, too—as long as the latter isn't a prerequisite for the former.

I hope I'm not engaging in wishful thinking here, but please "call me on it" if I am.

Happy holidays to you all!

With metta,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said. I myself find that the Salvation Army is one of the few organizations that I donate, because like you, I have the thought or hope they spend more of the dollars that I might give to the people they serve than their administrative salaries, non-sensical stockholders and the lot.

Going deeper into the underlying theme of people genuinely following their value system, this isn't difficult merely for Christians, but those of other faiths and those who are atheist or agnostics. My observations is that we have values and internal polices like "help others, be kind, be ethical, etc..." and yet in practice out society doesn't genuinely support these projections.

I sometimes have a feeling this basic disconnect between intention vs. practice can have a kind of unskillful or unhelpful reverberation that causes as Vimalakirti put it for the "World to be sick."

Despite this so-called sickness, I'd like to think that there are puddles of support that will expand the life and universe for others, rather than contract or shrink it.


Seiho Jaye Morris