Crate of Penguins — What The Church Can Learn From Apple

I will never tire of reading Sid’s writing. He’s a smart guy with a view completely opposite of my own on many topics. He’s a great communicator and thinker. I love to debate with him because he comes from a place of love. I know we’re not going to see eye-to-eye and that’s not the goal.

The goal is to put our beliefs into words which both helps us reaffirm and refine them. But it also allows us to see where each other are coming from. I respect his views, even if I don’t agree with him.

In his latest piece, he writes about The Church (Catholic in this case) and Apple. There are similar communities around both and they’re both selling a product, an experience, and in many ways, an entire life style.

The Church, I believe, has some great products. The best, in fact.

WHAT ARE WE SELLING?

What are those products? Truth is one. Community is another. Depending on your tradition, Sacraments might also be available. Love is the flagship. It’s a rock solid lineup.

Even I have to agree, that’s a hard lineup to beat. But as he goes on to say, the message is often fractured and translated through many others.

Imagine how much you’d want to buy an iPhone if the only things you read about it were written by Samsung employees! This is precisely how the majority of the Western world hears the Christian viewpoint. So it’s not really surprising that in a lot of people’s minds the words “Christian” are synonymous with the words “hatred and intolerance”.

I won’t spoil his entire post, and it’s a good one. He’s looking for other writers to share ideas and write about their experiences. Authentic voices. Real people writing from their own place of love.

A sort of Read & Trust for The Church.

 

On Benefits and Baggage

Sid talked about writing this post months ago. Before his foray into working for himself. And I am glad to see he wrote it and happier still to have been able to read it.

If you don’t understand that the Church is an organization entirely based on God, a being who holds our universe in being with his will, whose mind is unimaginable to us — if, in fact, your closest reference point is a secular business — you are not going to have the faintest opportunity of even beginning to make sense of its policies.

The Pope is not a CEO. Priests are not middle-managers. Making money is not the ultimate fulfillment of the human person. In fact, the pursuit of happiness on earth is not the reason we’re even here! If you’re arguing with someone who isn’t at least open to these realities — you’re going to have a bad time. – Crate of Penguins — Benefits and Baggage

As I wrote in my post yesterday, we all see the world in a different light. Religion isn’t for me. I tried it. I didn’t enjoy it. But I have no problem with others enjoying it and loving it.

That’s part of the beauty of the Internet. I can follow and befriend people from all walks of life and beliefs. I also do this to open my eyes wider to the world. There is more to the world than Macs or PCs. There is more to life than technology at all. I am still firmly in a niche, but I am slowly getting outside of myself.

I don’t know if he counts me among his atheist friends, but I’ve fallen under that label in my life. Also Agnostic, Mormon and Generally Apathetic About The Whole Thing.

People change throughout life and it’s much too short not to open myself up to different ideas. It pains me to see Sid having to defend his beliefs. It shouldn’t matter to other people what he believes. Just like it shouldn’t matter to other people what I believe.

But we’ve gotten to be experts at policing the thoughts and beliefs of others. To what end? What good has come from it?

Has it made anyone happier? Has it improved anyone’s life? What good has come from it? Nope. Nadda. None.

Control

Do I still wrestle with money? Absolutely!
Do I still have days where I wonder where it all went? For sure!
Do I still often think it would just be easier to buy the nice things I want and let the future sort itself out? Embarrassingly, yes.

Getting our financial house in order has taken a lot of work. And recently, when my car died and my wife’s car needed some costly repairs, it wiped out nearly every cent we had saved.

**Nine months of hard work, gone in an instant.**

It was devastating to see all of our hard saved money evaporate into a new car. Sure, it’s nice to have a new car that runs well and has air conditioning, but we weren’t planning on spending the thousands to make that a reality for a couple more years. It just goes to show, you never know what life is going to throw at you, or when. And it pays to be ready.

I have learned a lot since we paid off our credit cards, got student loans under control, made a plan to pay off medical bills and started savings a large part of our income while donating another sizable portion every month.

It’s been a long road and it’s nowhere near over.

Financial control is a journey, not a destination. There is never an end to the struggle and saving. There is never a point where the money starts replicating itself tenfold and all your worries are gone.

Keeping your finances under control is an ongoing endeavor and one I’m happy we’ve done.

There is an amount of peace and security that comes from saving for the future. I’m a calmer person knowing there is money going into savings every pay check.

I am happy to contribute to my 401k and pay Future Carl. He is going to appreciate the efforts of Present Carl one day.

I am happy to be able to pay down our debts and student loans. I am happy I know we have the money to live comfortably while making this happen.

I am happy we’re able to donate 10% of our monthly income to the church because I know it goes for good things. I don’t care where you stand on religion. I’ve been on both sides of the debate in my life.

But for now, I am happy where I am. I feel the religion I am living is mostly in line with my views. I am part of one fo the largest humanitarian aid organizations in the world since the church has a worldwide network of people and communication in place ready to act and serve when the need arises.

I didn’t think there was any way we could contribute to a 401k, put aside money in savings for ourselves and donate to the church every month.

But we do. We can. We are.

And I feel better because I know where my money is going and I know what it’s being used for. Can I afford to buy myself new gadgets, games and other toys at will? No.

But I know the difference I am making in my life as well as the life of others is well worse the sacrifice and hard work.

Church

I grew up without religion.
No, that’s not right.
I grew up with church as part of my life.
It is a place my brother and I would get drug off to early Sunday mornings. We would sit and listen to tales of horrible things done to people thousands of years ago.
We would be warned of the fire and brimstone raining down upon us if we were not good people.

We were subjected to the small town evangelism and politics of church-going. Church didn’t mean anything to me growing up.

It was something to do. It was a place to go. It was something that was expected and required but seemed to hold little value to my life.

It was a history class for events from thousands of years ago.

Ever since having joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 1 and being baptized (again) I have thought about my relationship to God and Religion and people of religious faith.

These are three very different things.

Religion is something you grow into.

It is not something you’re born with. It is something you’re either raised with or not. You may be raised in it and reject it later on or raised without it and find your way to it later in life.

However, I think it’s something everyone needs to come to terms with for themselves. Everyone has a belief system. Everyone has faith in something.
Coming to terms with what my beliefs were was the first step to finding a path either closer to or further from religion.
There are thousands of people who will tell you what to think and what to believe and how to act. But it’s all nonsense. It means nothing if it’s not your own belief.

Religion and faith is personal. It’s a one-on-one relationship. There is no room for a third party. There is no room for anyone else.


  1. (Totally going for the longest named Christian faith I could find.)