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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 02 Feb 2018, 12:38

Paul, I had fully intended to take a break from all this, but it seems ungracious not to reply to you.

One of the reasons I mentioned the film A Street Cat Named Bob is that, heartwarming as it is, it could be seen as a lightweight, "sanitised" view of the hopeless and the helpless. We all want a "fair" society, but then we all know (I think) that some people are undoubtedly exploiters of the "mugs" who try to help, and some seem to be completely beyond any human's help. As all unwary listeners/counsellors are told in training: "People have got to want help, not just need it." I am very uncomfortable with this, and in some ways feel it is only those who have been in hopeless situations themselves and who have, therefore, a full understanding of real desperation, who should be in "front-line" positions. How can I, a comfortably-off, educated, extremely fortunate and healthy (touch wood) woman know what it is to be destitute and angry and hopeless? I can't, and if I try I no doubt - with the best will in the world - come across as patronising and controlling. Or I become a soft touch and an "enabler". It's a terrible dilemma - and a trap for the unwary.

That said, I always seem to find some sort of answer in the Gospels - and, please believe me, I am NOT Bible-thumping here. In Luke's version of the above, the "Love thy neighbour as thyself" Leviticus quotation (offered to Jesus this time by an "expert in the law") is followed by that most famous of simple and no doubt simplistic stories - The Good Samaritan. It is offered in response to the clever "expert's" question: "Who is my neighbour?"

After telling the Parable, Jesus simply asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied: "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him: "Go and do likewise."

(And not just to the children of Israel, as Leviticus suggests.)

Such a simple (that word again) suggestion/ injunction. But not so simple. How best should we show mercy? That is the question. I haven't got time now, but the bit in the film where James needed a mere extra 9p for his meal, and where mercy is most definitely not shown him, has stayed with me these past few days. Why on earth didn't someone, hearing the dispute with the chippy owner, simply hand over a 10p? Would that have been "enabling"? This won't make much sense if you haven't seen the film - will check on YouTube later for a clip. Got to go now - in a rush, as ever.

Answers to my dilemma on a postcard please, preferably with a stamp.

EDIT: I can't find a clip on YouTube of the distressing café scene, but here's a trailer for the film anyway.






Probably a comment for the Moggy thread, but Bob plays himself for much of the film. However, he did have seven body doubles for his stunt work. He could be the next James Bond.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 02 Feb 2018, 16:00

Oh at school we used to have collections for "Fr Hudson's Homes" (they were some Catholic children's homes - we had to fill in a card to the sum of 2s 6d if memory fills me rightly - a cross with enough squares for 2s 6d). I think (there was some bad publicity about Father Hudson's some years back but they don't have the homes anymore - it's more of an administration outfit I think -and there were annual collections (again on a card) for it seems terrible now "black babies". I can't recall whether I mentioned this before on another thread but the idea was you saved up for a black baby to be baptised and put the name the baby was to have on the card.  I always felt aggrieved because my parents only gave me one baptismal name (I moaned so much that my mother at one time wondered about changing my name by deed poll).  Being at a catholic school most of the other kids had at least 2 baptismal names.  Now I have visions of an African lady coming up to me and saying "Are you the dirty rat that landed me with Theresa Maria Euphemia (that's only a for instance;I can't remember the names I suggested back in the day - just that they were long).  In adult life I have found that by and large African Christians I have met are more serious about their religion than the average white religious person [of course one can't generalise].  There also used to be a collection at the end of term sometimes (at the convent school I attended) for a film usually with a religious theme.  I think it was only about 6d but one of the girls who had the job to collect the film one time said that going by the hire cost of the film and the number of girls attending the school the nuns would have made a profit.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 02 Feb 2018, 20:29

@Temperance wrote:
Paul, I had fully intended to take a break from all this, but it seems ungracious not to reply to you.

One of the reasons I mentioned the film A Street Cat Named Bob is that, heartwarming as it is, it could be seen as a lightweight, "sanitised" view of the hopeless and the helpless. We all want a "fair" society, but then we all know (I think) that some people are undoubtedly exploiters of the "mugs" who try to help, and some seem to be completely beyond any human's help. As all unwary listeners/counsellors are told in training: "People have got to want help, not just need it." I am very uncomfortable with this, and in some ways feel it is only those who have been in hopeless situations themselves and who have, therefore, a full understanding of real desperation, who should be in "front-line" positions. How can I, a comfortably-off, educated, extremely fortunate and healthy (touch wood) woman know what it is to be destitute and angry and hopeless? I can't, and if I try I no doubt - with the best will in the world - come across as patronising and controlling. Or I become a soft touch and an "enabler". It's a terrible dilemma - and a trap for the unwary.

That said, I always seem to find some sort of answer in the Gospels - and, please believe me, I am NOT Bible-thumping here. In Luke's version of the above, the "Love thy neighbour as thyself" Leviticus quotation (offered to Jesus this time by an "expert in the law") is followed by that most famous of simple and no doubt simplistic stories - The Good Samaritan. It is offered in response to the clever "expert's" question: "Who is my neighbour?"

After telling the Parable, Jesus simply asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied: "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him: "Go and do likewise."

(And not just to the children of Israel, as Leviticus suggests.)

Such a simple (that word again) suggestion/ injunction. But not so simple. How best should we show mercy? That is the question. I haven't got time now, but the bit in the film where James needed a mere extra 9p for his meal, and where mercy is most definitely not shown him, has stayed with me these past few days. Why on earth didn't someone, hearing the dispute with the chippy owner, simply hand over a 10p? Would that have been "enabling"? This won't make much sense if you haven't seen the film - will check on YouTube later for a clip. Got to go now - in a rush, as ever.

Answers to my dilemma on a postcard please, preferably with a stamp.

EDIT: I can't find a clip on YouTube of the distressing café scene, but here's a trailer for the film anyway.






Probably a comment for the Moggy thread, but Bob plays himself for much of the film. However, he did have seven body doubles for his stunt work. He could be the next James Bond.

 
First of all, thank you very much, Temperance for this heartwarming (hartverwarmende) message. I read it all from A to Z.

"One of the reasons I mentioned the film A Street Cat Named Bob is that, heartwarming as it is, it could be seen as a lightweight, "sanitised" view of the hopeless and the helpless. We all want a "fair" society, but then we all know (I think) that some people are undoubtedly exploiters of the "mugs" who try to help, and some seem to be completely beyond any human's help. As all unwary listeners/counsellors are told in training: "People have got to want help, not just need it." I am very uncomfortable with this, and in some ways feel it is only those who have been in hopeless situations themselves and who have, therefore, a full understanding of real desperation, who should be in "front-line" positions. How can I, a comfortably-off, educated, extremely fortunate and healthy (touch wood) woman know what it is to be destitute and angry and hopeless? I can't, and if I try I no doubt - with the best will in the world - come across as patronising and controlling. Or I become a soft touch and an "enabler". It's a terrible dilemma - and a trap for the unwary."

"That said, I always seem to find some sort of answer in the Gospels - and, please believe me, I am NOT Bible-thumping here. In Luke's version of the above, the "Love thy neighbour as thyself" Leviticus quotation (offered to Jesus this time by an "expert in the law") is followed by that most famous of simple and no doubt simplistic stories - The Good Samaritan. It is offered in response to the clever "expert's" question: "Who is my neighbour?"
After telling the Parable, Jesus simply asks: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied: "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him: "Go and do likewise."
(And not just to the children of Israel, as Leviticus suggests.)"

Temperance, I think, suppose, and after all, those who wrote the Gospels weren't dummies either, that they summarized the experience from communities, much older of them, which had learned with trial and error, how really human relations worked in a society. In my opinion a bit as the old Greeks also referenced to old wisdom acquired from the dawn of humanity, also found out by trial and error?

"Such a simple (that word again) suggestion/ injunction. But not so simple. How best should we show mercy? That is the question. I haven't got time now, but the bit in the film where James needed a mere extra 9p for his meal, and where mercy is most definitely not shown him, has stayed with me these past few days. Why on earth didn't someone, hearing the dispute with the chippy owner, simply hand over a 10p? Would that have been "enabling"? This won't make much sense if you haven't seen the film - will check on YouTube later for a clip."

Yes Temperance, quite a dilemma. Perhaps best to follow the instinct of the moment, without much reasoning, and whatever the reception of your charity, you don't bother about it and go your way?
After some research, see the tumbleweed suite, I found the complete film socalled dubbed in Portuguese, but "sst" in reality in plain  English. Have to say I, as I am used to the BBC English, did have preferred even subtitles in Portuguese, than listening to understand the plain English...but alas...I understand now fully your reasoning...
I give only the url for not alerting the...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AY7YHaZ8Ls&t=144s
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3606888/


Kind regards from Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Sun 04 Feb 2018, 11:02

When I worked in London I did some voluntary work in a very small way for a homeless charity (I was a 'gopher', I'd get some of the stuff for making the breakfasts out of the cupboard for the lady who was doing the cooking - I didn't mind being a gopher and it was only once every 2 or 3 weeks).  I'm not mentioning this to say that I was a wonderful and noble person or anything (like I say I was only did a small amount of sessions) but to say that there was one guest who said that he reckoned the shelter had saved his life because at one time before going there (he eventually was rehoused into a bedsit) he had been coughing up blood.  One person had a go at me for being a volunteer saying that voluntary establishments gave the government a get-out for not taking stronger action about the homeless.

There can be good people though - I don't know whether I mentioned it in the rave section at the time but not this Christmas just gone when I was having stuff delivered by Tesco but the Christmas before I went to my local Co-op shop and found I had left my debit card at home - I said take some of the items out and I'd pay what I could out of the cash I had on me, but another shopper said no, he would top it up.  I said he didn't have to - he insisted.  I always intended to pay him back if I saw him but I didn't and I doubt I would recognise him now but that was an example of somebody being decent without referral to an organised charity.  Of course I wasn't really down and out - just I'd bought something online and had forgotten to put the card back in my handbag.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 13:04

"Being decent" - ah, now more or less sums it up, doesn't it? Golden Rule and all that. All religions and all ethical traditions teach this rule, so I do not really know what we (ie nordmann and I) are arguing about. Does anyone?

I had a whinge yesterday about arguing with the Boss: "He just won't give an inch, will he?" I complained. "Whereas I do, all the time."

"You give too many inches," came the stern reply.

Which has made me think.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 13:09

I have given several feet at this stage (not to mention risked arms and legs in doing so) - not that I ever get credit for it. I'm off to have a whinge about it with some unsuspecting bar fly (they love it really).

(hidden message in the OT, right up at the start too)
Good Eggism Never Ends Spiffily, I Say
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 14:04

Well, bad-eggism never ends spiffily either, does it? So not really sure what the answer is. It's all a bit sad really.

I'm puzzling over the hidden message reference - apologies if it was a nasty dig from you, and I haven't got it. I never was much good at cryptic crosswords. I can only think it's to do with if you can't stick to history, go and find some other forum to witter on, which is fair enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 14:33

Bad-eggism can get one elected US president if one isn't too careful.

But bad-eggism was outside the scope of my observation, or is it a "nasty dig" to point out that only Michael Jackson might have rewritten the OT so that it started with Benesis?

Obviously I can't stick to history - I'd better go and witter somewhere else, myself.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 17:15

@nordmann wrote:
...or is it a "nasty dig" to point out that only Michael Jackson might have rewritten the OT so that it started with Benesis?

Oh dear, I'm still none the wiser. I honestly don't know what you are talking about as usual. Was it not a dig then? I am very relieved (honestly). Even Google seemed a bit baffled, so it's not just me being stupid. In answer to my pathetic plea: "What is Benesis?" I received the reply:


Did you mean:

what is Genesis? what is Nemesis? what is Kinesis?


Google, I haven't a clue what I meant.



But to return -and very seriously -  to the original topic. There was an editorial in The Sunday Times yesterday about Lynn Barber's article - see link below. Barber - no doubt unwisely - wrote candidly of her experiences after offering - also no doubt unwisely -  a home to a Calais Jungle refugee. It has all ended in tears and a complaint by her unpaying guest to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, a complaint which has been upheld. It's a beautiful example of the  Rescuer/Victim/Persecutor triangle with Ms. Barber and her refugee taking turns at the various positions on the triangle.

What on earth are we to make of this mess?

No Charitable Deed Goes Unpunished?
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 21:54

@Temperance wrote:
@nordmann wrote:
...or is it a "nasty dig" to point out that only Michael Jackson might have rewritten the OT so that it started with Benesis?

Oh dear, I'm still none the wiser. I honestly don't know what you are talking about as usual. Was it not a dig then? I am very relieved (honestly). Even Google seemed a bit baffled, so it's not just me being stupid. In answer to my pathetic plea: "What is Benesis?" I received the reply:


Did you mean:

what is Genesis? what is Nemesis? what is Kinesis?


Google, I haven't a clue what I meant.



But to return -and very seriously -  to the original topic. There was an editorial in The Sunday Times yesterday about Lynn Barber's article - see link below. Barber - no doubt unwisely - wrote candidly of her experiences after offering - also no doubt unwisely -  a home to a Calais Jungle refugee. It has all ended in tears and a complaint by her unpaying guest to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, a complaint which has been upheld. It's a beautiful example of the  Rescuer/Victim/Persecutor triangle with Ms. Barber and her refugee taking turns at the various positions on the triangle.

What on earth are we to make of this mess?

No Charitable Deed Goes Unpunished?


Dear Temperance,

if I open the link, it says all kind of odd things, as allow cookies or something like that. But that I am already accustomed to, but it say: to read further I have to subscribe or give a password. Normally I don't do that, the same as for seeing films online...On some occasions as for Jstor or Academia I do it, because you find these articles not elsewhere...I want it all without paying and with an easy access Wink ...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 05 Feb 2018, 22:13

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
When I worked in London I did some voluntary work in a very small way for a homeless charity (I was a 'gopher', I'd get some of the stuff for making the breakfasts out of the cupboard for the lady who was doing the cooking - I didn't mind being a gopher and it was only once every 2 or 3 weeks).  I'm not mentioning this to say that I was a wonderful and noble person or anything (like I say I was only did a small amount of sessions) but to say that there was one guest who said that he reckoned the shelter had saved his life because at one time before going there (he eventually was rehoused into a bedsit) he had been coughing up blood.  One person had a go at me for being a volunteer saying that voluntary establishments gave the government a get-out for not taking stronger action about the homeless.

There can be good people though - I don't know whether I mentioned it in the rave section at the time but not this Christmas just gone when I was having stuff delivered by Tesco but the Christmas before I went to my local Co-op shop and found I had left my debit card at home - I said take some of the items out and I'd pay what I could out of the cash I had on me, but another shopper said no, he would top it up.  I said he didn't have to - he insisted.  I always intended to pay him back if I saw him but I didn't and I doubt I would recognise him now but that was an example of somebody being decent without referral to an organised charity.  Of course I wasn't really down and out - just I'd bought something online and had forgotten to put the card back in my handbag.

Lady,

thanks for your reply about charity. Especially, the sentence: "One person had a go at me for being a volunteer saying that voluntary establishments gave the government a get-out for not taking stronger action about the homeless."
Yes, that's the real charity, no compulsory as I mentioned before in this thread and independent from the government welfare.
And if this "one person" want to have an increase in that government welfare he has to try to convince others to vote for a party, who has that in their program and help that party in the government. The welfare is a fine balance between spending of the country for welfare or for competition on the capitalistic worldmarket. As Belgium has one of the highest percentages of the wages in the world for welfare, some say overhere that that let us less competitive on the worldmarket than those with a restrictive welfare system. In my opinion it is open for debate, as that welfare system is also an economic level that is important for jobs and the lowest wages level generates also  economic activity, which would otherwise not exist because people would simply have not the money for it to spend. But yes it can also be spent at booze and drugs...but perhaps selling booze is also an economic activity?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 06 Feb 2018, 08:14

@Temperance wrote:

But to return -and very seriously -  to the original topic. There was an editorial in The Sunday Times yesterday about Lynn Barber's article - see link below. Barber - no doubt unwisely - wrote candidly of her experiences after offering - also no doubt unwisely -  a home to a Calais Jungle refugee. It has all ended in tears and a complaint by her unpaying guest to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, a complaint which has been upheld. It's a beautiful example of the  Rescuer/Victim/Persecutor triangle with Ms. Barber and her refugee taking turns at the various positions on the triangle.

What on earth are we to make of this mess?

No Charitable Deed Goes Unpunished?

What we can make of it (amongst other things) ...

1. If you initiate an act of charity on whatever impulse don't then immediately try to turn it into a cause célèbre (one which incidentally helps raise your profile as a journalist), and definitely don't exploit private and personal details about the recipient of the charity in doing so. There were many more effective and relevant options available to the author once the abuse of her trust became evident than writing a public article in a major newspaper. (She probably felt she had to keep readers informed having already written about her actions before everything went pear-shaped, but then of course she shouldn't have done that either)
2. If you are the recipient of an act of charity quite knowingly and quite duplicitously under false pretenses don't then further compound the abuse of trust placed in you by behaving like a total prat, and in doing so advertise your character deficiencies to the world for good measure. Besides lessening the chance of such charity being extended in future to more deserving people (about which you would obviously not care much) you will have effectively limited your own scam to a one-off, whereas a more intelligently duplicitous person could well have spun it out for much longer.

I disagree that Barber's act in itself was unwise as this presupposes much by way of intention, intelligence and motive on her part which may not in fact be true, and indeed if one aim was to get an article or seven out of the exercise then in a professional sense it would appear there was in fact some wisdom (albeit cynical and exploitative) involved in its perpetration. Her judgement of character however most definitely appears to have been highly suspect, as were her obvious presumptions regarding a refugee's "default" needs, motives, honesty, mental health and degree of victimhood. No such defaults exist and, despite superficial similarities in appearance, individuals in a common predicament have as many reasons for being there as there are individuals to be there.


There are basic common sense precautions and a lot of recommended advice regarding direct interaction with individuals in such scenarios that are wise to follow, especially "strangers" whose culture of origin is as strange to you as the person may be themselves, as by extension is the exact nature of the circumstances and experiences to which they have been subjected and which will, almost by definition, lie outside most people's full scope of comprehension. These rules of engagement are multiplied in relevance and importance when that interaction involves a requirement for trust, a specific act of quite significant benefaction, and perceptions of morality, debt, gratitude and decency which cannot be readily reconciled inter-culturally to a point at which both parties are in agreement regarding their true nature and full personal implications. Barber either chose to ignore her own common sense and any such advice she had received in order to get a story, or possibly didn't have much of either to start out with. Ahmed was technically correct to claim that Barber's eventual reaction to the failure of trust (which he most likely contributed in no small or inculpable measure towards), whereby his own despicable behaviour ended up being broadcast nationally, was a gross violation of his basic right to privacy. He also appears to be a person nevertheless whose character and activities will inevitably lead him into a situation where that right will be legally and quite uncompromisingly forfeited anyway, but it wasn't Barber's responsibility to prematurely, unprofessionally, illegally (and quite uncharitably) anticipate that function and so publicly assume that role.

If one effect of the publicity this "story" generates is that an already spurious collective noun of "Calais Jungle Refugee" is further blackened and pejorated in the minds of those who otherwise might have made a genuinely altruistic (and more practically intelligent) contribution to the welfare of those grouped within this classification, then Barber has done more to counter and probably discourage actual charitable measures which might have more realistically helped people genuinely in the predicament such as Ahmed simulated than she herself even now seems to have realised, at least based on her own account of her behaviour during and subsequent to her intended act of charity as she saw it - one that in its description in the press (also by herself as much as others) seems to have been markedly lacking in that virtue anyway, with rather dubious motives attributable in hindsight to both the benefactor and beneficiary in this case. To infer that such a fate potentially awaits everyone who risks trust may have some truth in it, but to infer that this might be the typical outcome for any two individuals engaged in a charitable act of this nature, as both giver and recipient, is certainly disingenuous.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 06 Feb 2018, 22:53

Further thoughts on.........I agree with nord's post. From hard learned experience and close observation of others, I  learned to favour anonymity as far as possible or cool detachment if not. Those who make a show of their charitable works,  the Lady Bountifuls and the Honours List contestants  probably also expect gratitude along with a title  -hmmpf - whilst forgetting that receiving charity can be painful for many even to the point of  feeling envious anger towards the donor. And care must taken not to appear patronising when ones help is hands on. To be honest, I found chartable work a minefield of problems and learned much wisdom from field missionaries. I learned that when I took on a biggish project (personal as well as group) I never gave my name and remained rather vague if with an  organisation. I learned how to go about it eventually to some extent. But what I did find was how generous people could be in giving funds in trust. Sadly this is often greatly abused into organisational expenses - yet managing such funds alone is a great responisibilty  for which one must have open accountability.
And one last thought - follow through. It is all very well  doing a good deed or whatever, short term but what next? I like the Save the Children field work because people are involved in projects to benefit their community long term.The best most of us can aspire to is sustained kindness, I guess. And that ain't always easy, either!
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 07 Feb 2018, 08:56

Thank you for bothering to read the link and for commenting.


@nordmann wrote:
Barber either chose to ignore her own common sense and any such advice she had received in order to get a story, or possibly didn't have much of either to start out with.


I suspect that is very true, but people like Lynn Barber do rush in where angels fear to tread, and from my experience with such highly educated but rather wilful folk, it is impossible to suggest that their facile solutions to problems might not work in the long term - or that the problems are not always what they seem to be. Well-meaning or self-serving? Perhaps a little of both. But then that is true of us all, I suppose. Barber strikes me as an older, Oxford-educated and more articulate version of Lily Allen - women who do rather like a bit of drama and publicity. Perhaps she is Lily's gran.

I do not have either Priscilla's or nordmann's experience in charitable efforts. I want to help people who are in dire circumstances, but often am completely at a loss as to what it is best to do. Give a tenner and offer to help with the washing-up? I have had a fair few rows with people over the refugee crisis, and have got nowhere, except have been made to feel I have no heart. That isn't true - or at least I hope it isn't true. But we need a realistic, political solution, not just hearts that bleed profusely all over the place - weeping celebrities - and others - who parade their compassion. Self-righteous prigs - I can't stand them. Not a very "Christian" (whatever that means) comment from me, but there you have it. I admire people who do not make a song-and-dance about what they are trying to do - that's why I support the Médecins Sans Frontiers organisation by giving the odd tenner now and again. Not much use, I admit, in this awful world, but hopefully better than nothing. And I did buy Dan the Pigeon Boy in Barnstaple a Black Forest Hot Chocolate (Large) plus a cookie for his pigeon yesterday - which made me feel momentarily better. But he kept saying "Thank you, Miss! Thank you, Miss!" which made me feel terrible. A bloody hot chocolate. The Médecins Sans Frontiers workers are incredibly courageous people who quietly serve in horrendously dangerous war zones. Not something either Lynn or Lily - or I - would/could do.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 07 Feb 2018, 10:39

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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Thu 08 Feb 2018, 14:54

This thread is probably dead in the water now, but I shall post this link. I found it interesting.


Christians Did Not Invent Charity


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Fri 09 Feb 2018, 10:36

Effuse thanks are indeed an embarrassment and further guilt trip if ever - best ask someone else to do the actual donation. This works  better as long as you are a bit distanced from it. It works as long as the go between keeps quiet about who you are. Doubtless someone wil read an odd psyche into this... nowt such strange as folks.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 12 Feb 2018, 14:04

@Temperance wrote:
This thread is probably dead in the water now, but I shall post this link. I found it interesting.


Christians Did Not Invent Charity



Yes, interesting, Temp - thanks for that link. It is a peculiarly American phenomenon, I think, that anyone feels they have to counter an argument that "Christians invented charity" with some rather basic and commonly known aspects to charity and how it has been intellectually interpreted over the millennia. Only the most extremely fundamentalist Christian could in all likelihood even offer up such a stupid contention to be addressed, I feel. However the author perseveres with that tone, and it leads him into many contentious claims of his own regarding who the Romans may have regarded as their "foremost" philosophical thinkers, what stoicism sets out to achieve, etc, and a rather over-the-top condemnation of Christians for "stealing" the idea of charity from others (it wouldn't be much of a theology if it didn't at some point assume responsibility for explaining human behaviour in terms of divine origin and purpose, and of course in doing so is forced to existing sources such as philosophical discourse in order to isolate the bits it wants to subsume into its scope). It may technically be "theft" of sorts, but it doesn't become heinous until it then attempts to cover over all its tracks and pretend to have come up with everything itself. If such a thing was what Christianity attempted (and certainly historically it appears to have more than crossed some Christians' minds to do so) it signally failed. Theology in fact has a much more consistent record of failing to prosecute such grandiose claims in the long term than it even has in "proving" any "divine" precept in the short-term. In fact once it borrows philosophical terminology and begins to pretend to mimic that discipline's language and rules it is almost certain to eventually disappear up its own rhetorical nether-parts. It is no longer doing the job it was designed to do, and like anyone out of their depth in a job to which they are not suited can at best only hope to reach pensionable age without being found out (too much).

Philosophically every religion and its associated theology is very much a "flash in the pan" that flares up, has its day, and is then eventually subsumed back into general intellectual analysis - the human activity and inclination that gave rise to it in the first place. It doesn't need "champions" for either philosophy or religion to argue their respective cases, as much as the the waters of the tide and the sand on the beach require apologists for their respective roles in their apparently mutually antagonistic relationship. One can argue whatever one wishes - but the one-sided symbiosis will simply continue unabated and the tide erode the most grandiose and stubborn sandcastles, no matter their incidental appeal while they lasted. In the meantime the tide of course creates the sand from which further grand constructions can be made, whether the castle builders acknowledge this or not. And so it goes ...

Gaius Musonius Rufus, by the way, was hardly considered Rome's "foremost philosophical thinker" in his day (1st century CE), despite what the article's author wants us to believe. His brand of stoicism tended to alienate both the very rich and the very poor - the former because he consistently chastised them for having wealth at all, the latter because he equated their social status with moral laxity and absence of will. He was at times though a darling of the equestrian classes (the "chattering" classes of their day) - the guys on the lower rungs of the political ladder who were sufficiently secure in their own status and removed enough from real power that they could feel entitled to back anything that got up the emperor's nose, as Rufus certainly did (being exiled by both Nero and Vespasian - which was an achievement in itself), though also canny enough to keep such voiced opinion firmly within the realms of inconsequential philosophical discourse, and it didn't get any more inconsequential than Rufus. In truth his was simply an over-elitist and super-ethical version of stoicism that didn't actually translate into practical application as much as Rufus pretended it did. Marcus Aurelius fairly tore the lad to shreds (metaphorically, of course) later on, and rightly so. Called him the Latin equivalent of a "woolly thinker" - "æquivocatus" - which was MA's dismissal of choice for any philosopher whose "advice" led the reader round in moral circles. MA hated going there, he detested people wasting his precious time.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 12 Feb 2018, 16:49

I'm not a theologian but I thought that historically charity, the giving of alms and all that, was never really a key Christian thing. There's certainly a thread running back through the thoughts of Martin Luther and on to at least as far back as writings of St Augustine, which holds that the only route to the ultimate goal, Salvation and the gift of God's grace, is through personal repentence and faith in Christ as a redeemer from sin ... and that good works done on Earth count for absolutely nothing. If you're poor it's because God has alotted you that role: "The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, And ordered their estate," (God is clearly a Tory). I think St Augustine even went as far as to say that the number and names of those who would enter Heaven was already fixed in advance, so if your name wasn't on the list, even before you were born, it mattered not a jot how pious, faithful, or indeed charitable your life had been, or not, you still weren't getting in. Mind you even St Augustine eventually thought maybe that wasn't a particularly sensible doctine, and so softened his stance.


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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Mon 12 Feb 2018, 17:03

You're quite right. But then, in theology one can just make it up as one goes along as regards morality and still claim to be right. It has only been since Christianity assumed an institutionalised state role in administering charity that it ever truly acknowledged its necessity ( which transcends opinion though cannot escape philosophical interpretation). And it did a good job when in that role, as humans tend to keep doing (amazingly).
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 13 Feb 2018, 09:06

The recent widely publicised scandal surrounding Oxfam, and others over the years (in Ireland the Catholic Church "Compassion" charity Trócaire for example ended up as a bishop's fund for keeping the mother of his love-child shtum), suggests that charity as a concept is dissipated to the point of becoming its opposite in practice once it becomes highly organised, remotely applied, and impersonally imparted. This would suggest that such has always been the case, a point against religious "charity" per se when it ran or runs on operational lines, regardless of however the associated theology has been tweaked to define it.

This disparity between what we might privately understand as "charity" as it applies to human nature and what it has to come to mean in societies that support it in institutionalised form is not unique to religion, of course. However it is noticeable that philosophy, when it addresses the concept (normally in quite restrictive terms related to human propensity), steers very clear of however it might manifest itself in institutionalised form anyway. Religious theology, composed for a very different agenda's set of purposes, has never been shy of pretending that the personal inclination to be charitable can be codified, regulated, and applied wholesale. In this it has helped actually devalue the concept, in my view, or at least obscured it to the extent that intelligent conversation about it can end up in several moralistic dead-ends to which it need never really have been directed.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 13 Feb 2018, 13:32

@nordmann wrote:
 Religious theology, composed for a very different agenda's set of purposes, has never been shy of pretending that the personal inclination to be charitable can be codified, regulated, and applied wholesale. In this it has helped actually devalue the concept, in my view...

In mine, too. But let us be fair. Did Jesus of Nazareth actually have an agenda? Didn't all that come later? The old saying, used by the medieval beggars: "Alms, for the love of Christ!" still resonates today: it is an echo of the story in Matthew 25 quoted above. But does it really matter whether it is charity given "for the love of Christ" or "Alms for the love of mankind?" I suspect for "the lad himself" (and his earliest followers), it was the same thing. So humanist philosophy and theology need not always be in a war of attrition, like the tides and the sands (lovely imagery, by the way). Or do they? I think for you they must.

But perhaps I have not understood. More and more I find myself not understanding. What a muddy mystery we make of something that should be quite simple and natural.


PS

Priscilla was correct to advise anonymity when making offerings for the poor and the needy, as the following text advises. Applies to the small donations, as to the large. But sometimes a friendly word is welcome too, and not just a "Here you are, mate. Some woman in there has just bought you this."


(The word alms, by the way, is used nine times in five chapters of the King James Version of the New Testament. Matthew 6:1-4 contains four occurrences}:

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret...”
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 13 Feb 2018, 14:36

@Temperance wrote:

Did Jesus of Nazareth actually have an agenda? Didn't all that come later?

He had many, and some in conflict with others, if the documents by which we are invited to deduce he was real are anything to go by. But that's beside the point, I think. It is more important to pin-point which of his instructions and advice come from rabbinical teaching and which from what, to Jews, would be a radically new departure of incorporating humanist philosophy in its tone. His reported attitude towards charity seems to straddle both.


@Temperance wrote:


“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret...”


A great example of a sentiment that straddles both possible points of origin - rabbinical in that the Torah makes charity compulsory and the Talmud then lists anonymity as the seventh meritorious aspect to "good" charity. So subject matter one would expect of a rabbi, and with very little deviation from the existing lore and beliefs of the audience. However it is also a very Stoic principle, and in fact the reference to "one hand not knowing what the other does" is lifted straight out of Stoic texts doing the rounds at that time. In fact the entire Sermon on the Mount can be interpreted as traditional Judaism being preached through a Stoic wash, though in some cases Stoicism of fatalistic resignation to one's lot (ala Seneca, Rufus etc), while in others more the kind that MA liked best in which nothing is pre-determined, anything is possible, and in which the good Stoic (after Cicero, et al) uses only self-betterment as the yardstick by which one gauges one's progress and conduct.

At its very core level the Sermon was probably deemed most noteworthy at the time because it took Jewish traditional teachings and invited the audience not just to take them at face value any more. Standard philosophical discourse and attitude of course and probably how just about every lecture at the Academy started, but a departure in tone that was hugely radical to the religious mind at the time (as it would be considered even now too should long-held beliefs based on "faith" in their veracity be invited to be placed under scrutiny and reassessment ex-doctrina). The only flaw as such was that this scrutiny in a philosophical sense wasn't actually to be based on anything as mundane as logic but amounted really to just another religious entreaty to place blind "faith" again in the veracity of the the speaker's words as the speaker saw them and with the emphasis on "divine revelation" rather than "common sense deduction". A missed opportunity, in my view, and one which ultimately undermined the value of the sentiments so that they could be reinterpreted and misunderstood so crudely and fundamentally by others once the thing was published. If the lad had been a philosopher he'd have been kicking himself afterwards once he thought back on what he said and how big a hit it proved to be almost immediately (he got a good crowd at the event, but nothing compared to the number who would subsequently read it through media reports for millennia afterwards). He should have done a Sermon on the Second Mount to clear things up, but then good Mounts were probably hard to book in those days and time ran out on his tour a little ahead of schedule.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Tue 13 Feb 2018, 16:57

But the lad possibly was a philosopher, even if one who had not had the benefit of a proper Academy education. He didn't do too badly for a poor Jewish peasant boy - better than Alexander perhaps, who had Aristotle to teach him, or Nero with Seneca in charge of his studies. Fat lot of good philosophy did those two (Alex and Nero, not Aristotle and Seneca). As I have said elsewhere (was it the Plato thread - can't remember now), Jesus of Nazareth - who even you admit seems to have been a bit of a thinker - was probably influenced by the Hellenistic teachers he had come across in the great city of Sepphoris (which was a mere hour's walk away from Nazareth), and he also possibly absorbed some ideas from the Cynic community at Gadara. I have no problem with that. Should I? Surely the marriage of Jewish and Greek thought gave us the best of two great traditions, although the Greeks - for all their great philosophers - never really came up with a lasting solution to the problems of mankind. They still favoured the domination system which is the root of all evil. The theologians of Christianity - all those nasty old intellectual men who were so obsessed with what Elizabeth I rightly referred to as "trifles" - did too. No wonder the poor Jewish boy - who understood so much about people and who never intended to start a new "religion" - was tempted to weep in despair.

But, as ever, the inclination to wander away from the original topic and just argue/discuss all this with you is also tempting, but usually ends in me feeling baffled. I always rise to the bait, don't I? I just wish I could argue more satisfactorily - I simply do not know enough about philosophy. David and Goliath and all that - but a David who's not very good at hurling even small debating pebbles about.

Apologies to Priscilla for meandering with sling - I must return to more charitable thoughts. Charity begins at home, they say. Any comments about that, anybody?



PS I've just ordered Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan. He apparently looks at Jesus as a philosopher - should be interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 14 Feb 2018, 09:00

Have altered my last post a little - I fear the original wording came across as petulant, which was not intended.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 14 Feb 2018, 09:38

@Temperance wrote:
But the lad possibly was a philosopher, even if one who had not had the benefit of a proper Academy education.

He was accused of many things in the story, but even the pharisees didn't sink that low! Plato maintained that the essence of a good philosopher was one who wasn't afraid to apologise for offending prejudicial judgement when formulating a philosophy, and then to apologise for its essential flaws afterwards which serve to reinforce the same prejudice. So while the Jesus lad might indeed have been simply a bad philosopher by Platonic standards (more likely just a rogue rabbi though - like the pharisees reckoned) he falls down on being a philosopher per se due to all the "my father says so" and "because I say so" stuff used to replace the application of logic that would have naturally led him, as a philosophical thinker, to adopting Platonic humility.

@Temperance wrote:
Charity begins at home, they say. Any comments about that, anybody?

MA maintained it begins with oneself (as close to home as one can get, I suppose). He had a point - if you can't be kind to yourself it is hard to see how you can really understand the kindness you extend to others, be it in the form of charity or not. The problem I suppose is in assuming that it is something that can really have a "beginning". It can have an origin in the human condition, but the practice of it is defined by social norms and current attitudes, which when learnt at home normally gives the practitioner a head start. So in that sense the phrase is correct, though badly worded. Better to say that "learning how to be charitable at home improves your likelihood of practicing it in a more general sense and off your own bat afterwards, and in a manner commensurate with public expectations and mores".
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 14 Feb 2018, 11:33

At the opera last night(!) during the interval I listened in to a heated discussion in the row behind about who can be helped by charity. Doling out to addicts who would not reform was at the heart of the row - all involving a church that was 'blind' to the cause of need and helped with material support regardless of any conditions. This attitude had hardened a heart - who went on to explain how an unreformed alcoholic in her family had wrecked it. So, who to give to is of concern to many. Can a truly charitable heart be judgmental? (Public expectations and mores ? Yuk! Not a yardstick I use - my own are hard enough.)
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 14 Feb 2018, 12:41

@Priscilla wrote:

Can a truly charitable heart be judgmental? (Public expectations and mores ? Yuk! Not a yardstick I use - my own are hard enough.)

The "yardstick" is the one applied to you, not by you, when judging whether you are being charitable "in the right way" or not. These mores change, and change often, so it is a forlorn hope anyway for even the most kind-hearted and charitable person in the world to assume they pass muster according to these in any consistent manner. However by the same token it is also possible for a less than charitable person to use these shifting standards as a yardstick whereby they know they will be judged as "good". And that's a real "Yuk!".

My answer to your first question is "yes", and an honest person will know that judgementalism lies unavoidably at the heart of their action, no matter how altruistically objective a standard they may hope to adopt. Everything to do with charity, from the identity of the recipient to the manner of conveyance and selecting that which is to be conveyed, is undertaken using subjective judgement. Organised charities remove some of the onus from the individual in judging these matters, but then whether one avails of this service in order to be charitable is also a subjective and personal judgement, so this is still unavoidable.

The person you eavesdropped on and who criticised the church for being too non-selective in its approach to dispensing charity may not quite understand that the church in this instance is probably a small collective of individuals who also have not escaped using subjective judgementalism in order to define their activities, however it may appear at first glance, and that the extent to which the recipients of this charity are "deserving" or "undeserving" also is a matter of extremely subjective opinion (as much on the part of the eavesdropee as the church they criticised). There is a valid stance that I have often heard expressed which states that indiscriminate dishing out of free assistance undermines genuine efforts to fix the problem giving rise to the necessity in the first place. This is true, in fact, and very hard to criticise as an intellectual position. However it is of absolutely no use at all if one tries to run a charity, or even privately behave charitably, with this as a basic premise behind one's actions. The risk that a truly needy recipient will only suffer even more as a result of such rigorous filtering out of potential abusers always outweighs completely the chance that by selectively doling out charity one really kick-starts the process whereby the root problem will be fixed. It's an unreal analysis, in other words - fine on paper, but of zero worth in real life.
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PostSubject: Re: Charity - thoughts on   Wed 14 Feb 2018, 15:30

I should have written that such - and other - yard sticks I do not often heed. I learned very young that other people's yardsticks made an irregular fence that begged to be jumped.... but being a silent child   of course kept my own counsel on that for quite  while. 

Your analysis is fine when working with a group - but what of knowing full well an individual is a hopeless lost cause yet is suffering, I'm not sure. To be honest I am facing such a situation at the moment whereby helping someone would alienate a family I greatly respect .... if ever they found out I had done so ... people who have been taken to the limit by many years of a person's awful behaviour... (not medically rooted.)

The church I heard spoken of had opened doors of a church property for street dwellers when the winter set in and also offered further comforts such as food and bedding.

Ah well. have chewed on this topic for a while and still perplexed.
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