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A Lenten Letter to the Family and Business Morals Editor of GiftHub

A fundraiser friend who solicits hedge fund managers, and who asks to be anonyous, writes,

This is Lent. For several personal reasons I am reading the liturgy and observing this Lent more closely than usual. It’s pretty clear. No two ways about it. Either love the world and hate God or vice versa. My profession is to tell the elite wealthy the lie that we love you for your wealth and God loves you for your “generosity.” So they go to their “death bed” believing the lie, not knowing that their very wealth profoundly alienated them from the God they now need for the next part of the journey. We are all complicit, especially the pastors who like us in the nonprofit world always always always give the chair at the head of the banquet table to the wealthiest amongst us (despite the clear parables of Jesus that demand the opposite over and over again). We in philanthropy always honor the money and give short shrift to integrity of spirit. I am not telling you anything you do not know. Gift Hub has been proclaiming this for how many years?

So this is why I just don’t know if there is any gentle way to get at what you want to get at. Those willing to attend <an open space convening on social justice philanthropy> are in least need of your gathering. You’ll be “preaching to the choir.” In 2008 trillions of dollars disappeared. The US of A “bailed out” and rewarded the criminals who lost/stole this money. The recent bandaid foreclosure settlement gave the very burglars the $25 billion or whatever the money to dispense. The criminals own congress and the White House. The game is rigged and all we have are the crazy Occupiers speaking truth to power (with the conspicuous absence of the clergy).

The world loves its own and even those in bankruptcy and/or foreclosed upon admire the elite wealthy. Only the elite wealthy are invited to the new Cardinal being installed in a few hours at St. Patrick’s today. I could write the book on this, including being with the new Cardinal when he first came to NYC at a very small dinner party of the elite wealthy (one of the things major gift officers must endure) and watching everyone’s behavior, including the now Cardinal.

Jesus would have attended that dinner party with the whip he used in the marketplace 2,000+ years ago, but He trusted me with that assignment. I left it in the car and instead smiled and simply seethed inside and now spew my safe self-righteousness here.

Who, then, is the sickest in our extended family? The wealthy person we flatter, or we the flatterers? The parasite, the paid mourner at funerals, the rich man's retainer, were stock figures of Roman satire. If we would cure others, we must first cure ourselves. One way to live in truth is the way of the cross. If I get to that I will consider it an intellectual and  artisitic failure. Laughter, at oursevles first, is still the best cure, and laughter can be inclusive. I have told jokes into stony silence, and am occassionally whipped for my insolence, but no waterboarding, no special renditions, no being "suspected," and arrested by the military police, and here I am still working in Wealth Bondage as a morals tutor, and editing Moral Biographies, most recently of the Supreme Court Justices (we did it as a Professional Courtesy, to thank them for Citizens United). It is my good fortune to meet some of the best families in their best moments doing wonderful things in the world. If they don't laugh, I won't either. It can't be any more stupid than walking around with ashes on your forehead.