Thanks again to all readers who pitched in to help me this week, last and not least being M.C., who now goes on my February prayer list. I have now removed my rattling tin because, to my astonishment, the London Media Outlet that promised to pay in January and didn't, has now paid.
Which leaves me feeling a bit dumb and overly cynical because I definitely thought I would have write a strong letter followed by scary legal forms that could be filed only in London, etc. Still, I darned well sold them that piece in October.
So you may very well wonder what I am going to do with your tips. Well, I'll tell you. Whereas my writing fee has gone into our British account, your tips have gone straight into the Canadian account from which I pay Mr Credit Card. So the tips will pay Mr Credit Card and the fee will sit in the Scottish account waiting for the next emergency, whatever it may be. My first bleg was, if I remember correctly, inspired by an insurance-less root canal.
I hope the 43 donors are okay with this!
Talking about money is terribly embarrassing, but I feel there ought to be full disclosure, especially in the blogosphere where most bloggers don't get paid except by their readers in tips. For some reason Patheos has never come knocking on my seventeenth-century door, and I will not put up ads. Blogger doesn't let you discriminate against ads, and the ads I would be saddled with would most likely be for Singles dating websites.
I shall now tell you a story about advertising. When I was a child, I was in a gifted program, and therefore spent a day a week in another school being subjected to educational experiments. One day the "Gifted Kids" were taken away to a special conference about which I remember nothing except a very long and fascinating monologue by a bearded priest who had had once had a nervous breakdown, which we knew because he told us. Hey, it was the 1980s.
Anyway, besides telling us that while he was a missionary in Africa, watching topless women breast-feed taught him how very beautiful and innocent female breasts are, he told us how vile and despicable the advertising industry was and made us all promise never to become advertisers.
Thirty years later I wonder if he soon had another nervous breakdown and/or took off to get married or whether his amazing and compelling hour-long rant was fueled by drugs. But it doesn't matter because along with the idea that the naked human body is in itself beautiful and innocent, I believed his hypothesis that advertisers are in the business of making money by making people feel unhappy and that only by buying something will they feel better.
And here is a story about Saint Ignatius. Saint Ignatius told the early Jesuits that they could not charge for spiritual direction; they could only take donations. And my first theology school, a Jesuit institution, was very much the poor cousin of the colleges of the University of Toronto. The professors worked very hard for their students and the school, for many at the cost of their own professional advancement. Talented men who join the S.J. in many Provinces, at very least, the poorer Provinces are making a real sacrifice. (Life in the SJ killed Gerard Manley Hopkins.) And then there are the richer Provinces of the USA.
When I went to visit Boston College, I was led around the beautiful, manicured campus by a fellow Lonerganian. It stank of money. I don't really have a problem with money and I accepted the fellowship fast enough, but there was something off-putting about a Jesuit institution that charged students $40,000 a year, especially when I never, ever heard a Southie accent among the students, only among the groundsmen and one very aged Jesuit who could also sing in Irish Gaelic.
Anyway, the Lonerganian led me past a new building--I think it was named after Saint Ignatius, although I am not sure--and he told me it had cost a million dollars. A million dollars--and my Canadian theology school was in a converted parking garage! It really, really bothered me. Maybe that was silly. But I wondered at once what St. Ignatius would have thought of that, and I used to visit the ugly, modern metal statue of him and say, "Where are you?"
If you work for a business--like that London Media Outlet or Patheos or Catholic Match---of course you must be paid by that business. But if you work for God, or think you work for God, or other people think you work for God, well.... The mind travels back to St. Ignatius.