Happy New Year. Did you make any resolutions? That’s nice.
Can I suggest one that I’ve decided to make this year?
First, let me give you a little background. Recently, an Anglican Priest (that would be in England) advised those of his parishioners who were facing dire straits this holiday season to shoplift from big retail stores and national chains (not mom and pop shops), as petty theft is a lesser crime compared to prostitution or flat-out robbery.
I don’t say this often, but this one time I have to admit it, I agree with the priest. (Makes me feel kinda dirty just typing it). There have been some protests from both the religious and non-religious, each decrying Rev Tim Jones’ message as morally wrong and potentially dangerous. So I’m here to defend him and his contentious message.
You see, my New Year’s Resolution is to steal more. And I recommend it to you, too. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had some financial struggles this past year or two. Heck, two weeks before Christmas, I got a letter from the IRS demanding I pay some back taxes. Granted, they had every right to ask for it, but bad timing, don’t you think? Now, I’m not going to go rob a bank, and prostitution just isn’t bringing in what it once did (this recession hits all industries). So what’s a poor guy like me supposed to do when my rent is due, my cupboards are bare and my paycheck is spent before I even deposit it?
Rev Jones makes a perfectly valid point. If asked, most people would say they would like to help out the less fortunate, but what exactly is the best way to do that? Give to charity? Well, how do you know if the money is really getting to where it needs to go? You can buy a meal for a homeless person, but that’s just one meal and unless you plan on adopting ol’ One-Tooth Johnny into your family, one meal isn’t getting him very far. The systems for helping the needy are just so ineffective and inefficient. We need a better method.
Well, shoplifting is that better method. If I steal from Wal-Mart, that increases their Inventory Shrink numbers at the end of the year, which in turn requires that they increase their prices to cover the loss and protect their bottom line. You, the flummoxed, well-intentioned shopper are now covering the cost of that leather pair of gloves and nudie magazine I secretly pocketed. Thank you, kind soul.
There’s one snag in Rev Jones’ otherwise unassailable plan. You see, shoplifting works for small items, and even some larger items can be snuck out with enough practice (you’ve got to stick with those resolutions). But there are certain necessities that just can’t be hidden under a big coat or in an empty shopping bag (suggestions to help you with your own resolution). Sometimes you’ve got not choice but to pay for what you need (like a commoner).
In these hard times, where am I supposed to get my hands on some cold hard cash? Once again, Rev Jones gave me the answer (although, indirectly). When do you see buckets and buckets of cash just begging to be pocketed? Why, in church, of course. How many times have you seen that tithe plate being passed around and you thought to yourself, Man, I could use that $20 bill? Of course, you didn’t take it because stealing is wrong. It makes Baby Jesus weep.
But then, Rev Jones just taught us (from the pulpit no less) that when the going gets tough, the tough gets crafty. It’s okay to steal from big corporations because they can eat the costs (mostly by passing them onto other shoppers). Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a bigger moneymaking corporation than the multifaceted Christian Church. Hell, the Catholic Church alone is a mega-billion dollar organization, and all of that money is earned tax-free. And in return for those buckets and buckets of cash gathered each Sunday morning, the church isn’t obligated to actually do anything with the money. All the money, none of the responsibilities. And forget about a receipt.
So, when you’re sitting in that pew (or metal folding chair or whatever it is your church provides) next Sunday morning and you’re thinking, like I do, about the bills and the grocery store and the next round of taxes and the unexpected medical, dental, auto or whatever costs that could suddenly crop up, remember, the Lord does provide.
And you know, this year, I’m going to keep my resolution.