One of my favorite humourists is Spike Milligan. He was the creative force behind BBC’s radio The Goon Show in the 1950’s, that launched the career of Peter Sellers and that the members of Monty Pythons credit for paving the way for shows like theirs. Milligan wrote a scene in a play (I think it was, The Bed Sitting Room) in which a character was suffering from poverty. So, he went to a doctor who wrote a prescription for “money.”
That simple little scene in the play, not even an important scene in terms of the narrative, made me laugh. It also helped me see how simple the complicated bits of our lives really are.
I got into an argument the other day with a colleague over this kind of thing. He argued that, on the one hand, we shouldn’t just write cheques and call it mission. On the other hand, people (children, he said) are dying and we’re doing nothing about it. I argued that writing cheques is doing something about it and it is correctly understood as mission. The mission of the Church involves the writing of cheques, and Saint Paul himself acknowledges the significance of such generosity.
Not many of us just throw money at charities. I think about how much of what I’m giving will actually help, who it helps and if I can afford it. I’ve been known to pray about it before writing the cheque. Although, I must confess that prayer usually results in the addition of an extra zero to the cheque.
Obviously, money is not the only solution. We can’t and we don’t just throw money at problems, we think and pray about it and we enter into relationships with people. Money is needed, as is thoughtfulness, prayer and relationships. There’s no prescription, just people willing to do these simple things that can change lives; that can save lives.