In the early sixteenth century, an Infinitian wise woman, whose name has been withheld over the ages to protect the safety of her descendants from people seeking revenge, once said, “Ask not what your church can do for you; Ask what you can do for your church.” More inspiring words have rarely been spoken.
Those sentiments were echoed by a nineteenth century Infinitian wise man who voluntarily chose anonymity so as to better avoid tax officials. He said, “While it is regrettably necessary for men and women to receive salaries, wages and other payments so as to provide for their own sustenance, it is otherwise always better to give than to receive, provided that the Church of Infinitiaty is the recipient.”
The wisdom of those words cannot be disputed. They came, after all, from people whom the Church of Infinitiaty subsequently declared to be a Wise Woman and a Wise Man.
Nonetheless, many people find it painful to follow these teachings. They are often reluctant to part with their wealth even if it is for the benefit of The Church and its good works. For some reason, this is particularly true if the extent of the giving drives formerly wealthy people into poverty, as Infinitian teachings tell us is the way of the Gods.
Achieving Painless Giving
Fortunately, The Church of Infinitiaty has introduced a new course, The Art and Science of Painless Giving. It will teach you how to avoid the pain of giving what you might previously have considered to be “too much.” And what will be most attractive to reluctant givers is that there is absolutely no fee required to take the course.
Students live in a Church-provided residence during this program of study and practice. Room and board is completely free. Generous gratuities for the staff are optional, but always appreciated.
Participants will have to supply their own course materials. Before coming to the sessions, students must empty their bank accounts, take out the largest home equity loan that their banks will give them, and cash in any pension plans and other retirement funds they may have. They must then bring all of this cash to the learning center, as it will be used as a prop during the course to desensitize students to the pain they might otherwise experience as a result of “excessive” giving.
This highly rated course uses a series of role-playing exercises to achieve its noble objectives. The following overview outlines what students can expect when they attend:
- On the morning of the first day, students are, in turn, instructed to reach into the cash horde they brought with them. They then hand over merely one one-hundredth of one percent of the funds to the instructor as an act of righteous charity.
- Students spend the rest of the morning discussing how they felt about making their “donations.” (I’ve put “donations” in quotes because, remember, this is simply a role-playing exercise.) Experience has shown that, to a person, all students report that they felt no remorse. It’s not clear if that is because the amount was minuscule compared to their total funds. Their comfort might, instead, come from the fact that it is for a charitable religious cause. There’s probably an element of both.
- Students repeat the exercise in the afternoon. This time they increase the amount to just one one-fiftieth of one percent of their original cash pile. This is again followed by a discussion of the emotions associated with giving this increased gift.
- This drill is repeated several times. The amount handed over gradually increases in each turn. The exercise continues until all of the students’ cash has been transferred to the instructors’ “possession.” (Again, I’ve put “possession” in quotes because this is only role-playing.)
- Inevitably, as the amounts get larger, one or two students eventually express some discomfort when it comes time to discuss the emotions they felt in that role-playing round. When that happens, the complainers are encouraged to gain strength and learn from peers who have not shared the complainers’ feelings of remorse and/or pain. (The instructors have found that it helps to stack the room with accomplices who are not playing with their own money. These paid actors never complain. On the contrary, they always profess their joy of giving.)
- At the end of the week, those students who demand their money back are deemed to have failed. Clearly, they have not yet mastered the art of painless giving. Those who don’t want their money back are deemed to have passed the course with flying colors.
- To punish failure and to help underachievers to learn from their mistakes, failing students’ requests for a return of their funds are refused.
- To reward success and to reinforce the lessons learned, the passing students’ wishes to not take their money back are honored.