On the Pagan Variety Show (December 16, 2013), we touched on the perpetrated stereotype of Poor Pagans. Pagan leaders see it and grouse about it all the time. There is no “Wiccan Hospital” or “Pagan Recreation Center” because “Pagans don’t have money.”
I call shenanigans. (I actually called it something else but you get my gist.)
Pagans have money. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise.
We know the story. There’s an artisan doing what they love as they sell their wares. Along comes someone who says they really want to support the artisan, but they just can’t afford to spend “that kind of money” on the item. The artisan folds and makes a compromise to either give an item or lower the price. You can imagine the fury when the artisan sees that same person who cried poor mouth walking along with an item from a different vendor – that was three times the cost, with a large coffee from TimHo’s or BuckStars and a fresh pack of cigarettes.
It’s like this for the event and group leaders as well. Yes, our guests all claim they can’t afford to drop five bucks in the offering bowl because things are tight. Those same guests will be more than happy to tell you about their new cloak, crystal ball or the dollars they dropped on a new drum.
Insert other expletives here ___________ .
Let’s look to the “well to do” religious cultures to see what they are doing to see how *they* manage to sustain the finances of their faith.
Everyone is quick to look (and point fingers) at what is the “blanket” Christian religion. Big churches? Check. Maybe not a big church, but the old building has been fully restored? Oh yeah. Choir robes? Yup. Daycare centers? Sigh. Day camps and summer camps? Some, yeah. Leader (priest, pastor, reverend, etc . ) that drives a decent to really nice car, roof over their head and delivers service to the community with a smile and a joyful noise? Checkity Check Check.
But there are two things that no one wants to see: 1: the congregation dutifully and consistently putting money in the offering plate; 2. The countless man hours of all the volunteers, knitting circles, paint crews, carpenters, drivers for the invalids and others who give their time and skill for their faith.
That’s called faith financial responsibility and hard work. If you aren’t scared of that? Let’s keep talking.
Yes. Most of the bigger “religions” have fostered, cajoled, or even demanded that their flocks and congregations tithe and give generously. For those who can math, that’s at least 10% off their net income. Sure, they can break it down to monthly and weekly payments offerings. However, they give, no whining, no wheedling, no compromises. And yes, there are times when even those who are part of a bigger group fall on hard times. I have seen it with my own eyes how a person gave over 10% of their unemployment check or a portion of the food purchased with social assistance “for those who are in need.”
Puts those Poor Pagans to shame at times, doesn’t it? Enjoying that coffee while your brother and sister pagans need food, a lift to the doctor or some help with ?
Yeah. Well, It doesn’t have to stay that way. So what can we do about it? The answer is both simple and hard.
We, as leaders, must learn to foster a culture of giving and generosity. My local druid grove, DLG, makes no bones about it. They state their financial expectations of guests upfront. What? There is NOTHING wrong with that. Even for my own Shrine, I state upfront, what is financially expected of those who attend. Just giving that little bit, yes giving up an impulse buy a week or budgeting in the donation helps. That little bit helps keep the doors open and the candles lit.
That doesn’t mean the participants are off the hook. We, as guests, participants, members, and staff remember that there is no free lunch – EVER. We, as guests, should be thankful that the leaders are stepping up and offer our assistance – even if we know it will be refused.
And we should always say “thank you.”