Belenen (belenen) wrote,

tithing to my causes: equality and freedom (legal & spiritual), art, healing humans and the earth

I haven't made a post on this subject before (that I can remember anyway) because it feels awkward to talk about. But it's close to my heart so I'm going to try to put it into words.

The Christian church has a doctrine of tithing: one is supposed to give 10% of everything one makes to Deity. My parents raised me to do this (the way they handled money is something I HAVE admired about them) but I didn't need their push; I liked the idea of giving to Jesus, whom I adored from the very beginning. As I got older the idea of tithing lost its appeal and started to feel like all the other doctrines: restrictive and meaningless. But I prayed/meditated on it and said to God/dess, "sure, tithing helps the people I give it to, but what do I get out of it?" (because I never believed that my purpose is just to serve others) and I got a two-fold answer which has made me excited about tithing ever since. The first reason is that it is protection against possessiveness. It reminds me that everything that comes into my hands is a gift, even if I have 'earned' it, because I earned it using the gifts I've been given, and that nothing is truly 'mine' -- it's all just passing through. The second is that tithing is an act that builds my faith. An important element of tithe is that it is is the FIRST money I spend (yes, before food & other necessities), and so when I give my tithe I am trusting that Deity/the Universe will provide anything else I might need. These truths haven't changed as my understanding of life, the universe, and everything has evolved.

When I lived alone and worked, I tithed faithfully, and for the first three years or so of my marriage, we tithed faithfully. There were times when that was true even when we had NO money for two weeks and [ex] ate at [ex]'s parents' house and I ate the last cans of food in the cupboards (once I had a meal of collards and mandarin oranges, heh, which actually turned out rather tasty). Something ALWAYS came through at the last minute. Once we had a car repair that took everything we had and we couldn't pay bills or anything, so we prayed about it and then went to ask [ex]'s parents for a loan. When we got there, [ex]'s parent had already withdrawn the exact amount we were going to ask for and had it waiting in cash, because God/dess had told zir it would be needed. This was especially noteworthy because [ex]'s parents were quite plain that they were not going to lend money to us (since they have 7 kids, they needed to make a stern policy of it). There were many other events where the most random gifts of money would come in -- I wish I'd written them down because I have such a poor memory. But we've never literally gone hungry or without power, even when logically speaking we should have. But after my ex-pastor verbally attacked me for saying that Love was more important than 'winning the lost' and essentially kicked us out of the church, we stopped tithing because we couldn't agree on where to give our tithe (I occasionally asked [ex] if I could donate to something/someone as tithe and ze let me a few times but wasn't willing to make a habit of it). That always bothered me but since [ex] was always making the most money or all of the money, I didn't feel able to push zir about it.

BUT NOW! I can do whateverthefuck I want with the money I make!!! So I've been tithing again! (11% because I ♥ the number 11 ;-)) The causes I support and will (continue to) donate to are: Big Trees Forest Preserve, Legal Momentum, Georgia Equality, National Center for Transgender Equality, Soulforce (Stop Spiritual Violence), Snow Leopard Trust, Full Radius Dance, Oyate, Love146, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, & CHRIS Kids. There are other causes I care about but I'm already spreading my meager support pretty widely, so right now these are the ones I will focus on. I chose them by how much they are part of my spiritual practice -- so, it's focused on equality and freedom (legal and spiritual), stories/art from those whose voice is often suppressed, healing people and protecting those who cannot protect themselves, caring for the earth/trees (I'll probably add a national environmental organization when I find a good one), and protecting snow leopards (because they are of great spiritual importance to me and they are endangered). I'm using facebook's Causes app because it's a fantastic way to keep up with all of them and let other people know about them as well.

There won't be enough time or energy in my life to devote to all of these causes in the way I'd love to, but I can help others who are doing the work. I feel pretty strongly about putting my money where my mouth is, and I very much believe that if I just give a little consistently, I can make a huge impact over the course of my lifetime. There seems to be this attitude among activists that giving money is less sincere than giving time, but I'm spending time earning that money, so my money IS my time. I do want to DO more but I feel that my small gifts are important too, and I believe that they will have positive impact.
Tags: money, social justice / feminism, spirituality, the essential belenen collection, tree-hugging

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