Today's installment is not just your everyday inane query. This one is actually seasonal. I hope my ideas will be easier to follow than a mythological star.
So my wife and I were sitting around on Saturday night, reading, watching TV, munching on various unhealthful snacks — we’re famous in our social circle for being able eat our way through a family-size bag of Crispy Cheetos in less than an hour — and just generally relaxing after the pig-out of Thanksgiving and its aftermath. At one point, although I didn’t notice it, my wife must have checked her watch. Sure enough, it had been a few hours since I’d last been given a chore. She likes to suggest little projects for me just to make sure that I don’t wind up starving on the streets like the rest of the deadbeats who hate doing dishes. Anyway, she looked up and said, “Why don’t you jump in the car and go get a few lottery tickets?”
What I should have said was “I don’t feel like it; I’m comfortable.” But, through long experience, I’ve learned: A response like that doesn’t work. My comfort isn’t an issue.
So I needed a good, rational excuse. “I don’t want to give any more of my money to the state than I have to.”
My wife rolled her eyes. That’s when I made my mistake. Like the smart-ass I am, I quoted the bible. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Caesar isn't really entitled to those four bucks I’d spend on some stupid game.”
To which my wife, an atheist like me, said, “Well that money sure as hell isn’t god’s.”
That’s when I decided to run out the clock. There was only a short time left in which to purchase chances for that day’s drawing. I said, “Well, buying lottery tickets is like an act of faith. We don’t want to start being religious all of a sudden. Do we?”
She said, “You have ten minutes.”
As I was driving to the nearby Jiffy Spend, I found myself still chuckling over the Caesar-god dollar dichotomy. Then, as I passed a group of holy-shit-not-already! Christmas lights, I had a thought: According to the Christian fairy tale, the three wise men presented the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Today we know, of course, that those things should have cautionary labels on them, stating that they’re choking hazards for children under 3. But this was back in the day when parents actually watched what went into their kids' mouths.
Anyway I started wondering: What did Jesus — or his folks — do with those things? The three wise men came from afar, traveling for days over hot desert sands by camel, without air-conditioning, to bring gifts to a tot they thought was the king of kings. There must have been desert-boatloads of the stuff they brought. They were no dopes, remember. So if they really wanted to ingratiate themselves, their presents would have been pricey. We’re talking about major expenditures.
I’m supposing the Jesus family burnt all the frankincense and myrrh over the course of the next few years to make their humble home smell a little less like donkey. But what about all that cash? Did they put it into a college fund for Jesus so he could go study theology, or worse, Aramaic lit? Did they invest it in Joseph’s carpentry business? (“Need a new table or bed? Crazy Joe’s prices are heavenly!”) Maybe they used it to buy toys and clothes for the child? (“Jesus! That’s the fourth pair of gilded sandals you’ve outgrown this year.”) Or did they just piss it away on lottery tickets?
Whatever they did with it, the gift sure set a lousy precedent. Nowadays, Christians still throw money at Jesus in an effort to suck up to him. They do it indirectly, maybe, by supporting god’s houses and his allegedly good works. But most of them feel, somehow, that they’re handing their hard-earned loot over to their lord. And Jesus’s collection agencies sure rake it in.
But why can’t god just take care of his own business without having to resort to cash, checks, and credit cards? What could money conceivably buy for him that he can’t just make for himself? How come he can’t finance his houses on his own, and pay for his ventures without having to ask for handouts? And where does he keep his assets? In a bank? In an offshore trust? In an omnipresent wallet in his omnibenevolent pocket?
Quazy Quistion Question # 3:
Why does god need your money? Explain your response.