The Cost of Finding God
“God thinks within geniuses, dreams within poets, and sleeps within the rest of us.” — Peter Antenberg
Although Jeanine and I are still not pregnant, we continue to have the “how will we raise our child” conversation when it comes to religion. For the background posts, you can read In Vitro and Baby-Making Business about our pregnancy attempts and for my take on religion, you can read these posts: God and Mammon and Million Dollar Bill.
Needless to say, we’re still on a quest to add a spiritual element to our lives. I think we’ve found the place: the Unitarian church, billed as the Uncommon Denomination. The LA Times describes it as, “Often associated with liberal political and social causes, the church today upholds seven principles promoting tolerance, compassion, justice, spiritual growth, the search for truth, democratic participation and respect for the ‘independent web of all existence of which we are a part.'” It’s a denomination with no formal creed and typically keeps a low profile.
Jeanine and I have attended a few times and dubbed it the Church of PBS. Our local congregation is super intellectual and the service feels more like an 18th century French salon than church. Last week we learned about the Immortal Chaplains, sang a song in Sanskrit, and heard someone quote poetry. The choir and flutist should be paid… they’re quite good.
All this brings me to the topic of money. Church costs money to run. The first Sunday that we attended, I put $20 in the offering plate. Jeanine thought this was way too much. Afterward, we talked about it and I said that it would cost us twenty bucks to go sit at a movie so it only seemed reasonable to somewhat pay our way while we’re guests and checking things out.
This progressed to a bigger conversation about what membership would eventually cost us. So last Sunday, at the coffee hour afterwards I met one of the trustees and quizzed her about the topic. Of course, there’s no mandatory amount but on average each family gives approximately $1,200 a year.
When we got in the car, Jeanine said that she thought $100 a month was outrageous. Jeanine grew up Catholic and her mother just dropped her off at catechism… I don’t think they ever really attended church or belonged anywhere as family. I grew up tithing. Ten percent of our income went to church. I was expected and “encouraged” to give ten percent of any money I earned as a teenager. And I was all about earning money. At 15, I had my first “real” job and from then on I tithed until I left the church at the age of 24.
Jeanine already said we’re not “tithing” 10 percent of our income. But $100 a month seems reasonable to pay if we want to become members. Everything else in life costs money, why should we expect church to be free. I told her if we go and get something out of it, then we should be willing to pay for this experience. Personally, I liked it so much that I would pay more.
I would love to hear what others pay or are expected to pay or any other comments about God and money that you might want to share.