Finding our way:
Q. Mommy, where do family values come from?
A. From families, dear.
Q. Where do the family’s values come from, Mommy?
A. From advertising, honey.
Q. Aw, Momma! Just because I asked for that Prada backpack!
A. Our values come from the Church, dear, and from the sacred stories you hear there. Also, our values come from Princeton, and the liberal arts. We hope some day you will go there too. That is why we send you to Hothouse Country Day. Now, get back to Homer – and I do not mean Simpson!
So, here is what strikes me as sad. Princeton, Yale, Williams raise money the old fashioned way, they ask for it, with no planning, no admixture of ideals, just the usual pitch. They model stupidity and crassness in the way they ask. How can this be? Because fundraising like all trades is routinized, and is most often driven from the top by the President sending minions to bring in money for specific goals or projects. Charles Collier at Harvard to his credit escaped his leash.
I think about writing articles for the alumni mags of the Ivies along the lines of taking charge of your money, your life and your philanthropy by planning within the traditions in which you were trained when you walked these hallowed halls. Cicero, Seneca, Wilde, G. Eliot, Frost, etc.
Until the sacred stories are retold and honored, how can we steer towards the light? “Discovery/Agreement” is the term for the moment in which the advisor and client define what the engagement will accomplish. But if the advisor is dim culturally, and the Ivy-educated, or otherwise enlightened, client is stiff and formal and passive, and if the process is controlled by the advisor, or by a fundraiser driven by a quota, how much wealth and how much love and energy is frustrated, deadened, and lost? (If the only language that advisor and client share is money then all of what we find in the Gospels or the Western Canon will be described as Cultural Capital and discussed, with other forms of Spiritual Capital or Political Capital or Social Capital as if they were the private property of the wealthy family, on a par with real estate or stocks and bonds. A betrayal of the very texts invoked. Blasphemy. Simony. )
Tessera – a sacred vessel, let us say, is shattered, as a tribe’s temple is sacked. The pieces are cast by the conqueror on the dung heap. In memory of what once was, certain members of the lost tribe take fragments and pass them down the generations. Say you have a collection of shards, as do I. Neither of us can restore a vessel with the pieces we have collected. So let’s combine our little hoards and sort the broken bits again.
- Blogging too is my way of laying out my pile of fragments, knowing they are insufficient, but in the hope that those who happen by will have the missing pieces, and toss them into the Dumpster, along with their sacred texts, left over from College. (Your biz school books are precious; keep those handy. Those are your Capital Assets that will not tarnish nor rust, nor will moths eat them. Capital is your Master Metaphor, through whose glass dimly you percieve your horned god.)
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