Thursday, November 11, 2010

My great big huge apology to all the people who ask for donations online!

A kind reader asked me, "Dear Mr. Button,  Why do you do it?"
"Do what?" I asked.  Well it didn't really go that way, but a friend did kind of want to know what I mean by my posts critical of asking for donations on blogs.  So I shared some of my thoughts with her - searching my soul, racking my brain, agonizing over adults upset with someone even daring to question their actions - I responded something like this...

Dear Princess of the Enchanted Fog,

Now days I honestly just post some things like the 'asking for donations posts' just to get people stirred up - to think about these things and to perhaps examine what they do in their online lives. Although when I first started writing about 'blegging' or asking for donations on a blog, especially as regards a priest whose name I cannot mention, I did so because it seemed odd to me that he, a priest incardinated elsewhere was essentially living a luxurious life on a ____ in _____ while apparently operating  some sort of personal charity to support himself, help with travel expenses and compensate his online activities. Needless to say I became aware of other celebrity bloggers who frequently wrote about how much time they sacrifice to be online, pretty much suggesting to their readers they should be reimbursed somehow for their efforts. It is almost as if they feel entitled to reimbursement, compensation just for being online.  I simply don't get it. If they have a business, it is one thing, but as it stands - many seem to be online just like the rest of us.  And no - I am not envious or jealous of their good fortune.  I personally never thought of maintaining a blog as a real job.  So sue me.  (Big smile and shoulder crunch there!)
That said, anyone can ask for money from anyone, anytime:  I gradually realized online soliciting was an opportunity some entrepreneurial souls could honestly exploit online, and that it wasn't all that uncommon in the Catholic blogosphere, so I stopped making it my concern.  From time to time red flags have gone up, and I have asked questions.  I remember when a celebrity blogger in California asked for donations to keep his 'orthodox' blog alive, pay for his honeymoon, and stuff like that.  He sort of fell away eventually - wasn't quite the orthodox papist-loving Catholic he said he was.  There was another case I found curious when a priest was fundraising for another priest, apparently just to demonstrate how easy it is to collect funds online - just for being a priest.  Because so many organizations ask for donations for serious causes, I have the idea that there are better places to donate to rather than church people who might be better off in active ministry. 
So anyway.
Professionalism infects everything, even the Church and church-people-hobbies like blogging.  Do graffiti artists get paid - no - I don't think so.  The web is like a great big graffiti wall.  (Oh wait, that's right - sidewalk artists and musicians have a cup out for donations.  But I digress.)  It can look as if some celebrity priests expect to be reimbursed for every casual word of advice, like a lawyer giving advice over the phone.  To be sure, as scripture points out, we owe our priests support, some even have other incomes - I'm not condemning any of that.  
However, sometimes it seems as if some of these guys have made a business out of religion, and I sometimes get the impression they are close to becoming clerical 'lovers of money and status'.  Admittedly, I cannot read their conscience of course, but at least their 'mission' can come off slightly tainted due to their concessions towards commercialism and consumerism, not to forget they appear to embrace the post-modern American notion of entitlement.  Let's be honest, many religious people appear to believe they are entitled to some form of monetary compensation just because they exist - I'm not talking about those vowed to poverty or who live on alms. Therefore, mandated by ecclesial authority or not, I don't understand how being online all day, doing a post or two, while surfing the net, equals a real job. I don't understand how a priest or a religious believes they are living a religious life while being online 24/7.

As for lay people, do what you want or what you need to do, you're free, unencumbered by religious titles and position.  Seriously, anyone can ask for all the money they want and most likely need to get by. It is absolutely none of my business, although I enjoy some of their reactions to my posts on the subject.  Seriously, people in need should ask for help - after all, Christians are instructed to exercise charity, especially as regards widows and orphans.  There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. 
Other persons can ask for money to pay off student debt so they can enter religious life - it's a worthy cause. (I wonder how that works after they leave however.)  Very seriously, if we can ask for money from  a friend or relative, or even strangers on the street, there is nothing wrong with asking for money online.  Likewise, it is a personal choice to give to whomever, wherever, whenever we want to, and anyone can ask for donations.  Some people fall through the cracks of charitable organizations and government aid - so there are very real people and causes out there.  Never be discouraged from donating.
There you are.  After all is said and done, please understand that I just document my thoughts - quick and fast like - while trying to make sense of what goes down - and in the end my conscience nails me for meddling in other peoples affairs.  Please accept my apologies if I stepped on your toes.

Mr. Button
Art:  Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence, Titian


  1. LOL!
    Listen, I answered the door for many years listening to all kinds of tales of woe...someone who had nothing to eat...while looking like they could take off, like a hundred pounds...sound callous?..okay, maybe.
    But this business of asking for money just makes me crazy.
    If someone feels so inclined to support a worthy apostolate, monastery, good work...fine.
    But for heaven's sake...
    this business of groveling, cagoeling, manipulating and downright prostituting one's self is just wrong; I'm sorry.
    St. Paul also said you live by the work of your hands and the goodness of the faithful.
    That's good enough for me.
    If this 'poor excuse of a religious house' (I say this, "tongue in cheek") shuts down because nobody supports us, fine by me.
    God doesn't want it to exist.
    How's THAT for a "money pitch":-)!

  2. And since my OCD is in "overdrive" today (!!)...I'll just add this:
    I don't feel in any way, shape, or form "entitled" because I'm a priest or religious (in fact, these are burdens, at times, I wish the good Jesus would relive me of...don't want to scandalize anyone here, but it's the truth).
    That priests and religious use their "status" to "troll" for $$$ makes me want to pull out their hair, stomp on their heads, and barf, all at the same time.
    No, I'm not having a bad day.
    But I've seen it all, heard it all, witnessed it's not good.
    Mr. Terry. God speaks to your heart.
    Don't you EVER forget that!! I mean it!

  3. Although I am by no means wealthy, I do consider giving donations and other depends on the situation. Emergencies are one thing....except the folks whose entire life is one big emergency...

    Sometimes I also give "gifts", in the spirit of my dad, for when I was in college and down to my last $20, and trying to decide whether to put food in my stomach or gas in my car, would show up with a sack of groceries with the lame excuse "Well--you mother and I were cleaning out the pantry and thought you could use some things for yours.."

    Folks need to live within their means...I work hard for my money and expect able-bodied folks to do the same. I get hit up with LOTS of request for donations, and I need to pick and choose...I can't help everyone. You should hear the rude comments I get from local folks who ask for money and I tell them...I won't give you cash, but I'll pay for your electric bill or put gas in your car or buy you a meal at Denny's...they say it doesn't work that way...yeah makes me wonder exactly how bad off they really are...

    But I'll still give dollars to bums...but that's another story..


  4. I did post a bleg, at the suggestion of others, a few years ago to help pay for sudden veterinary bills when I was between jobs, and did so at the request of others who emailed me privately and asked me to set up an account for the purpose. Some also suggested I do so for grad school books. So I did.

    I may ask for donations again to help pay down my debt so I can enter religious life, but I don't yet have the innate "sense" that this is the right time. In the meantime I'm doing what I can, knowing I can't do it alone but when it's right, it'll be OK. I'm also working on some other projects outside of work which I hope will aid in that fundraising - the work of my own hands (like a book I was asked to write, for example).

    Such is life. I've both been in need of help and have offered help to others. That's the way it goes. I agree with you, Terry, that people need to be discerning. What cause to give to? There are so many. Why give? That's another question: "What's in it for me to give to x person or charity". Does the giver want popularity, attention, or simply to do a good act?

    The one giving often has to be as discerning of their own intention as the one asking to be given to.

    (And yes I know one never ends a sentence with a preposition but there it is.)

  5. Geese Mr.Terry, You sure spend a lot of time apologizing for your opinions.

    I'm glad no one likes me or reads my blog. I'm still able to say whatever I want. I love thinking outloud - alone.

  6. Belinda, I'm gonna read your blg right now!

  7. I agree with everything written here. The whole notion of expecting donations and being so over-the-top about it, the tone of it all--it's absurd to me. It stings my conscience too, but I cannot help but to think what I do when I see it.

    That being said, maybe I can take this in a slightly different direction and offer a positive alternative as reparation. There is a priest with a blog who seems to me to be very genuine and in fact is concerned about the status of clergy in a good way (not money status, but holiness status)--his blog is called "Clerical Reform" actually. I don't know him personally--he remains anonymous by choice on his blog--but it doesn't matter. The sincerity of his thoughts speaks for itself.

    Maybe we can check it out and 'support' him by our encouragement and prayers; perhaps we can learn something too.

    Here's the site:

  8. sanabituranima, you'll read it like about three times and then it's over between us - from your end not mine.

    Sad but true. If I had 130 followers I couldn't blog and when Mr.Terrys follower thingy hits two hundred, my social anxiety will keep me from talking to him as well maybe even before..... Something to shoot for Mr.T. :)

    I'm working on my anxiety though and harder than with my weight loss program.

  9. Oh Padre: Would that I were rolling in it, I would, for sure, send all the cash I could to you. No worthier than you, Padre. Like I say about our host, Terry, you are the real deal Padre...And, you make me laugh!

  10. Father, you wrote,..."If this 'poor excuse of a religious house' shuts down because nobody supports us, fine by me.
    God doesn't want it to exist.

    That't the truth and it makes me proud of you for saying such a thing. You've abandoned your life to Gods will. I feel the same way about my own life.

    No one is mentioning Gods divine hand in all of this. It's a fine thing to be totally dependent upon the Lord and watch him do his thing. Watching him work is amazing and solidifying in ones faith. God has made me militant because of his divine providence and had I not been financially challanged I wouldn't have learned this.

  11. It is refreshing to know when your appliances break, this experience will not be recounted in painstaking detail with links to replacements on Magic Chef and your home address.

  12. belinda, dear: I read your blog...honest! And I die laughing!
    Maria: You are the best!
    I just say whatever comes into this "pointy head" of mine...
    I've realized, with a lot of suffering, trials and tribulations, that God is God and He wills whatever He does.
    That's it.
    Love you all!

  13. For the record, I, who I believe coined the name Mr. Button, earlier this week am NOT the one who asked Mr. Button (a.k.a. Terry Nelson) that question. Not that anyone would noticed, my being an insignificant bit of bloggity insignifigance, but for the record let it stand, sit, what evah.

    Thanks bunches.

    P.S. Dear Mr. Button, I cannot keep up with your posts or your commenters. RSS is so slow - like me.

  14. P.P.S. so now, Mr. Button, even my (blog) art is just ether graffiti? At least, by your praise, I am a "stunning" and "so good" ether graffiti artist which, while not being anything I can take to even an etherbank is none the less nice.

    P.P.P.S. thanks for the prayers. I Kant have done it without yours and those of many others.

  15. @Belinda, just to reassure you of your own weakness and anxiety as a blogger it's worth noting Mr. Button very likely has far more than a mere 130 followers for I am, though I have often tried not to be (his magnetic humility being to much to resist) one of his followers and am not recorded in that 130 because I don't really use Blogger and that followy thing is exclusively Blogger/G00glecentric, I think.

    At any rate I am not counted there and no doubt Mr. Button's actually following rivals Our Lord Himself, or perhaps even of Benny Hinn.

  16. And by the way (since I'm still up and rarin' to go here)...
    I am going to Rome for the Consistory on November 20...yep...and some dear soul has offered to help pay for the expenses...but I'll be dearly paying for it all much, much into 2011.
    Too bad for me.
    But it's Cardinal-elect Burke.
    And my superior wants me to come.
    So...I'm going...I hate air not particularly fond of Italians (sorry!...bad experiences in the past!)...but I'm going.
    I'm not trying to sound like it's a penance or whatever.
    But with these news reports of practical "sexual assault" at the security points, I'll have some interesting experiences, I'm sure...
    (touching genitals...really?? At an airport...with a priest? Doesn't that violate the Dallas Charter???)
    It's gonna be a real circus, I'm sure...will keep you posted.

  17. Padre--

    You're going to Rome?? Can I come?? :) I don't take up much room promise :) Say hi to Mon. G for all of us gals :)

    As far as the airport...I went through the security a couple of weeks ago....the "pat down" is only if you don't want to go through the scanners..I had to go through a couple of them awhile back...they take you to a separate area, private, and an agent of the same sex conducts the pat down... very professional..not really much to get freaked out about.

    Remove all your metal, unpack your laptop, quart baggie with your liquids and gels, I put my electronics in a separate baggie soI know where they all are and don't have to hunt for them. Oh yeah--keep an empty water bottle in your carry on....fill it up after security at the nearest water fountain...that way you don't have to buy expensive airport water.

    Have a GREAT time!! And please pray for all of us poor saps. Did I mention say Hi to Mon. G for me?? :)


  18. +JMJ+

    It's also worth looking at in a general sense.

    Pretend the blog in question is not Catholic or religious at all.

    The blogger puts up a great, informative and funny post, something that really does bring value to his readers' lives. It is written to meet professional standards (as opposed to "anything goes" blog standards), so it could have been submitted to a journal in exchange for monetary compensation. But the blogger chose to make it available online for free.

    If he asks for donations so he can pay for his bandwidth, or make his next doctor's appointment, or add to his comic book collection . . . well, that's cool.

    But if he says, "I've been slaving over this hot computer all day to put this post up for you instead of sending it to the highest bidder, so you'd better pony up! An honest day's work deserves an honest day's wages" . . . well, he's got an inflated sense of his own importance in the world.

    There were times I've wished I could get paid to blog. I spend such a huge amount of time online that it's almost my second job. It would really make a difference in my life to receive some compensation for this. But that's just a fantasy. Nobody owes me for sharing my hobby with them. And when you consider some of the stuff I write, it's I who should be paying them to read me! =P

  19. @Belinda, I've just read your blog and have to say (you're new banner is nice and) you are SO right. Would you like my paypal account email or a snail mail address in order for you to send me my reader's payment?

  20. Graffiti artists actually do get paid.

  21. I think I mentioned that - I should have said taggers don't get paid - or do they now too?

  22. @Belinda, hey, don't try to avoid paying me for reading your blog by diverting to a comment by someone else. I even subscribe by RSS. Pay up girl, pay up.

  23. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Seeking attention....begging for followers...sending links of your posts to other bloggers....posting on popular topics hoping to hook into the traffic....getting Twitter followers and Facebook friends to pay attention to what you write and post....

    ...asking for donations..

    No difference between any of these things. It's all currency. It's just that some of it is hard and some of it is soft. It's all earthly treasures piled up in barns. The person who doesn't care about money might care very much about the attention and interest of others and spend her online time seeking more of that.

    There's another thing about blog posts though. Well-researched thoughtful blog posts that might be published in a magazine. The truth is that that market has just about shrunk up. There are hardly any Catholic print magazines anymore. I'm going to guess that even ten years ago a blogger who might be asking for a donation from those who read and enjoy his short essays or educational posts might have had an opportunity to sell those pieces in the past to a print venue but there's hardly any market left for that anymore and there you go.

    Tom S.

  24. Hey Sara:
    If I get anywhere near the ubiquitous Msgr. G (Kat will hate me if I do!)...I'll send him your love...maybe with Cardinal Burke, I just might...who knows? I've been in some rather unusual situations before...will keep you in mind, dear!
    And thanks.
    Pray for me, please. I hate air travel; I really do...I don't especially like Italy, either...but somehow, God is here and I just have to be "present to the moment"...that probably sounds rather weird to some of you who would cut off a limb to go...but prayers for everyone here, I promise.
    I'll let you know how it goes.
    Thank you!

  25. I don't know where the comment by Tom S went but...

    using the handy Tom S scoring platform I decided to score myself:

    Seeking attention [0]....begging for followers[0]...sending links of your posts to other bloggers [check]....posting on popular topics hoping to hook into the traffic [0]....getting Twitter followers and Facebook friends to pay attention to what you write and post....[check and don't forget Plurk]"

    Sadly I rate a lame 40% but I think I should get at least half a point for the addition of Plurk which would give me a passing grade.

  26. TErry, I'd gladly give you a twenty-buck yearly subscription for reading your blog. Bet lots of folks would too. Just sayin'.

    Fr Nazareth Priest, I hate flying too. Used to love it, now, it is such a stress. I try to keep positive and just keep smiling through all the humiliations and inconveniences. But I DO love Rome. The overwhelming amount of spectacular art and architecture--not to mention all those Saints' relics!!--really does far outweigh any rudeness from any of the locals, who are understandably weary of us tourists! :)

  27. I'm the humblest of all.

  28. +JMJ+

    This is the first time I've seen "Janice/Jblessing/Lisa/EllenM/etc" signing her posts with a man's name!

    So, "Tom S.": did you really think it would be that easy???

    When you've been saying the same things for nearly a year, it doesn't matter what alias you use.

    Still, SHE has a point that it's all currency. Maybe the blogs of those who have made vows of poverty should shut comments down. There's no poverty of spirit in "wealthy" comboxes.

  29. Is there a substantial difference between criticizing someone or some entity in the Church because of professed beliefs or behavior that run counter to Church doctrine in some kind of public way, and writing posts attempting to search the souls of other bloggers and ascertain their motives, and being condemnatory about it in some passive aggressive lashing out? I think there is.

    I think you are appealing to base instincts, here. I'm out.

  30. What gets me is that Amazon wishlist. Italian canned tomatoes at $8 a can? Hell-o! Can you say "spolied" and "elitist"? Hey, I like good food too, but asking for stuff like that is a little over the top.

    I say: Choose which you want more. Birdseed or tomatoes.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.