A Tale of Two Headlines and the New Generative Economy

I don’t typically buy USA Today, but I did yesterday because of this front-page feature about people giving the gift of clean water for Christmas. You may remember that this year, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown took part in the Advent Conspiracy and encouraged people to buy fair trade gifts or to donate to a few important causes in honor of loved ones instead of buying things for people who already have so much. The donation options at FPCA were:

  • Sixth Street Shelter expansion campaign (Allentown)
  • living gifts for a village in Malawi with whom our church has a connection
  • Gifts/socks/sneakers for Roosevelt Community School (Allentown)
  • Living Water International

This was a very successful campaign, and it was wonderful to see the national movement get the front-page treatment in USA Today. I noticed that today’s edition of that paper included this front-page headline: “Holiday Sales Numbers Fail to Dazzle.”

Welcome to the beginnings of the New Generative Economy.

I’m not happy that retailers are hurting, but I am happy that for all of the misery, the global economic crisis might yield some generative good.  When we have less money to spend, we realize how little we need.  Then we start to think about how so many people don’t even have that much.  Since we’re already going to spend less money on stuff, it’s easier to give more resources where they can do the most good.  Giving cash gifts to good organizations in honor of others blesses everyone.  Overheads have probably never been lower, and you can use resources like Charity Navigator to see where your money’s best spent.

If you have the money and the inclination to buy physical gifts in addition to this kind of giving, your local Ten Thousand Villages retailers have beautiful fair trade items hand-crafted by artisans from all over the developing world.

Chuck Palahniuk and the Second Sunday of Advent

If your first thought is that the title of this post would be a great name for a band across multiple genres, I agree.  But the truth is, in this case, even cooler than the fiction.

This is the Gathering Thought posted at the bottom of the cover of these week’s bulletin at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown:

“Are these things really better than the things I already have?  Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”  – Chuck Palahniuk

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Chuck quoted so prominently in a church setting.  For those of you who know of my fondness for some of Chuck’s work, I should also state that I had nothing to do with this bit of timely subversion.  Fits very nicely with the liturgy for the Second Sunday of Advent, and for the themes of the Advent Conspiracy at First Pres.