Author Archives: 50 Days of Fabulous

The Other Pair

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” – Luke 6:24

The Other Pair is 4 ½ minute-film made in Egypt. Based on a situation from Mahatma Ghandi’s life, this award-winning short invites us to reflect not only on what it means to be poor, but also on the possible ways in which the haves and the have-nots can help each other.

As you watch it, when in your life have you been in need? Did you receive help, and what was that experience like? When have you been rich and able to generously give? Did you? If so, why, and if not, why?

Watch. Enjoy. Share with a friend. Begin a conversation about how we as people of faith can be generous with our treasure instead of hoarding it where moth and rust consume.

 

Today’s writer is Hugo Olaiz, associate editor for Latino/Hispanic resources at Forward Movement. Originally from Argentina, he moved to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in Spanish, linguistics, and translation. He lives in Oxford, Ohio, with his husband John-Charles Duffy and an aging beagle mix named Patches.

It Turns Out You Can Buy Happiness

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” –Luke 6:24

This is a fascinating TED talk by Michael Norton. Five years ago, when Norton was in business school, he ran an experiment to see if there is a correlation between the way people spend their money and how happy they feel. He gave money to a group of college students in Canada; some were told to spend it on themselves, while others were told to spend it on someone else. That evening, he called them to ask them how they felt. The result was clear: “People who spent money on others got happier,” said Norton. “People who spent it on themselves, nothing happened. It didn’t make them less happy, it just didn’t do much for them.”

Then Norton repeated the experiment in different countries all around the world, giving his subjects different amounts of money. Overwhelmingly, the experiments confirmed the original results.

“So if you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right,” Norton concluded. “The implication isn’t you should buy this product instead of that product, and that’s the way to make yourself happier. It’s that you should stop thinking about which product to buy for yourself, and try giving some of it to other people instead.”

 

Today’s writer is Hugo Olaiz, associate editor for Latino/Hispanic resources at Forward Movement. Originally from Argentina, he moved to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in Spanish, linguistics, and translation. He lives in Oxford, Ohio, with his husband John-Charles Duffy and an aging beagle mix named Patches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcarts among BMWs: The Cartoneros of Buenos Aires

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” –Luke 6:24

I have seen poverty in the country where I was born. Argentina is one of the richest and most progressive nations of South America, yet I have seen the destitute come out at night, carrying handcarts as if they were Mormon pioneers. In Argentina they are called cartoneros.

The word cartonero could be translated as “cardboard picker,” but they will pick up anything that can be sold to be recycled. They receive only pennies for their finds, but when you have been fired from the factory where you used to work, and especially if you have a family to feed, those pennies help your family survive. For the most part, cartoneros are a result of Argentina’s financial crises. Every time the financial system crashes, cartoneros reappear by the thousands. Many cartoneros have a high school diploma; some may even have a college degree.


The cartoneros are generally adult men; some take their children with them and teach them the job. Cartoneros have to be strong enough to carry their carts for miles, although some own a horse who does the heavy pulling. Traditionally, in Argentina, official garbage collectors do their rounds at night. Therefore, cartoneros have a small window of opportunity: They must find their goods after they are thrown away, but before they are picked by the official garbage collectors.

Cartoneros are the visible sign of extreme poverty; their mere existence represents a national embarrassment. In the ritziest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires (Retiro, Recoleta, and Palermo), the BMWs and Mercedes of the neighbors stand in stark contrast with the humble carts pulled by the cartoneros.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,” says Jesus. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”

[Photo Credit: MagicalUrbanism.com]

Today’s writer is Hugo Olaiz, associate editor for Latino/Hispanic resources at Forward Movement. Originally from Argentina, he moved to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies in Spanish, linguistics, and translation. He lives in Oxford, Ohio, with his husband John-Charles Duffy and an aging beagle mix named Patches.

 

 

Sandwiches and Salvation

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”  -Luke 6:24

As a child, I had a toy keyring with pictures framed in plastic primary colors. On this ring, I had a picture of my great-grandmother (my grandpa’s mother) and my infant self sitting in her lap. She passed away not long after the day this picture was taken, and because I was so young, I have no memories of her. I have only this photo and a defining story that my grandpa told me.

One day, as we sat together in my grandpa’s living room after a lunch of fish sandwiches (he eats fish every Friday) and vegetable soup, he told me about his childhood and growing up during the Great Depression. He was just a boy of 5 or 6 at the time. His family lived at the end of a road, not far from where he raised five kids and continues to reside today.

This image is a work of the National Institutes of Health, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Sitting in his favorite recliner, he told me about how he remembers hungry, jobless men walking down his street with all their possessions in a small bag on their back. They would knock on the back door, asking for something to eat. My great-grandmother would set up a card table and chair in the yard, under the cherry tree, and serve them a bologna sandwich and a glass of water. They would eat, thank her, and continue on their way searching for any paying work. My grandpa didn’t realize it until years later, but the curb in front of their house had been marked—a sign to others that they could find a meal at this house.

This story is so dear to me, because it tells me so much about a woman that I never had the opportunity to get to know. My great-grandmother was not rich. It was the Great Depression, after all. But she was rich in kindness. She was rich in generosity. And she was rich in the love of Christ.

Her true wealth was her generosity and love. She gave what she could. And her generosity and love marked her in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God.

How can we give from what we have? Do our daily acts mark us in generosity and love in the eyes of God?

 

Alyssa Finke spends her time writing, hiking, and cooking. She also really enjoys a nice adventure, and will cross oceans or city limit signs to have one. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Alyssa is the Marketing Coordinator for Forward Movement. Currently raising a tomato plant, a cactus, and several geraniums, her green-thumb aspirations are a work in progress.

 

 

Give What You Have.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”  -Luke 6:24

At one point or another in your life, you’ve most likely been asked the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Do you have your answer?

My first order of business would be paying back my college loans. I’d probably ditch my 2003 car for a newer model. I’d certainly travel. I’d buy tons toys and books for my adorable nephew, although he’s only a few months old and still learning that his hands and feet are attached to him.

What that sum of money could do in my life!

OR.

I could donate a hefty sum to City Gospel Mission, a local soup kitchen. I could donate to women’s shelters across the country. I could help buy passports for children whose parents have been deported. These are just a very, very few of the many possibilities of what that good that sort of money could do in the world.

I know that the statistics for winning the lottery are not very promising. In fact, I know I have 0% chance of winning the lottery…and it is 100% because I don’t play the lottery! Then I ask myself, “Why do I need the lottery to invest in ministry?”

Photo by Aleksandr Berdnikov, Wikicommons (2015).

I’m still so blessed and have lots to give. I have ears for listening, I have time for giving, and although I don’t have millions of dollars, I have a few bucks here and there to spare for a meal. I have wealth. Maybe not in cash, but I have a wealth of gifts for ministry. We ALL have a wealth of gifts.

Although my bank account will be never be graced by a lottery winning, what I CAN do is donate my time to City Gospel Mission, helping to serve meals to the hungry in my city. I have gently worn work clothes and personal products that can be used at women’s shelters. I can pitch in for passports for children whose families have been torn apart. Perhaps even more important than that is my ability to create awareness—to use the platform I have, no matter how big or small, to advocate for those in need. And I can donate to those ministries I support. Every little bit does indeed help.

Jesus did not have money spilling out of his pockets, and he yet he healed, fed, revived, and saved us all. By the grace of God, I have enough to help my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Alyssa Finke spends her time writing, hiking, and cooking. She also really enjoys a nice adventure, and will cross oceans or city limit signs to have one. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Alyssa is the Marketing Coordinator for Forward Movement. Currently raising a tomato plant, a cactus, and several geraniums, her green-thumb aspirations are a work in progress.

Jesus of the Pizza

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”
-Luke 6:24

I was recently struck by a video I saw from a group that does social experiments. A young man was asking for food in front of a pizza place. Time after time, he is turned down by people with an extra slice on their laps.

Homeless in Munich eating a found pizza by Usien, Wikicommons (2011).

He then stumbles upon a homeless community member who is sitting with his belongings, eating pizza (full disclosure—the pizza had been given to him earlier by a different member of the team).

When the hungry young man asks for a slice, the man agrees to share, and they sit side by side on the sidewalk eating pizza.

I see Jesus in this story. I see Jesus sitting against a building with all that he owns. I see Jesus sharing what he has—even when it is not much. I see Jesus turning a few fish and loaves into an extra slice of pizza for a hungry man (I’m not talking about anchovy pizza, ya’ll).

Why is it that we hold so fiercely to our chests what we think is rightfully ours. Why do we have such a hard time giving, when it is one of the clearest messages in the Bible? If we didn’t understand “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation,” we should have at least understood “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

How about this section from Luke 12:33: “Sell your possessions, and give alms”? Could Jesus have been more straightforward? Jesus reminds us again and again that worldly possession are obsolete and that our greatest gift is to give to others.

So now that I have gotten you itching to serve Christ and hungry for pizza, go grab a pie (hold the anchovies) and share with someone in need.

 

Alyssa Finke spends her time writing, hiking, and cooking. She also really enjoys a nice adventure, and will cross oceans or city limit signs to have one. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Alyssa is the Marketing Coordinator for Forward Movement. Currently raising a tomato plant, a cactus, and several geraniums, her green-thumb aspirations are a work in progress.