Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto: For Love or Money
This is a book about love. What, then, of money?
In the previous chapter, “Sex for Money,” I looked at the most direct case possible of an act which romantics such as myself desire to be performed out of love but instead is performed for money.
But let’s not forget that in my second chapter, Romeo and Juliet,” I also examined the case of sexual acts performed for something other than love — power, social standing, and again, money.
What is the moral difference, if any, between a prostitute picking up the cash left on her bedside table in the morning, and the Germanic custom of a husband paying a dower or “morning gift” to his wife on the morning after their wedding? What’s the moral difference, if any, between a pimp collecting the proceeds from the woman he sends out to hook on a street corner, and the parents of a woman collecting a “bride price” from her new husband or his family? And I can’t even fathom how low the social standing of a woman had to be that not only was she not worthy of being sold for her sexual value, but her parents had to pay a dowry to some guy to take her off their hands. It looks to me that prostitution is a huge step up from that.
But in almost every other human endeavor there is the possibility of doing something merely because you enjoy it, or feel it’s your mission or vocation or duty, or in the alternative because doing it brings rewards.
In his sermon, The Weight of Glory, preached on June 8, 1942 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, C.S. Lewis said,
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. …
We must not be troubled by unbelievers when they say that this promise of reward makes the Christian life a mercenary affair. There are different kinds of reward. There is the reward which has no natural connexion with the things you do to earn it, and is quite foreign to the desires that ought to accompany those things. Money is not the natural reward of love; that is why we call a man mercenary if he marries a woman for the sake of her money. But marriage is the proper reward for a real lover, and he is not mercenary for desiring it. A general who fights well in order to get a peerage is mercenary; a general who fights for victory is not, victory being the proper reward of battle as marriage is the proper reward of love. The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.
Like me, C.S. Lewis was a romantic — an idealist who then becomes a cynic when faced with people who do things not for their natural rewards but for extraneous ones — such as money.
Yet this same C.S. Lewis — whom we just saw extolling virtue bringing its natural rewards — spent his life as a scholar paid by Oxford and Cambridge. The author who wrote Christian apologetics and fantasies received royalty checks from their publication.
Lewis is reported to have been a man generous with his charities; yet I have read no biography of him asserting that he never used money he was paid to teach and write to pay his rent or a mortgage, or lay a roasted goose on his Christmas table, or buy the pipe tobacco he smoked, or pay for the pints of Ruddles Ale he drank with J.R.R. Tolkien at the Eagle and Child pub.
This does not make C.S. Lewis a liar or a hypocrite.
This makes C.S. Lewis human.
If you had asked C.S. Lewis about the seeming contradiction between what he preached and what he practiced, I know what his answer would have been. He would have said that human beings were fallen, and it was only prior to our race’s fall in Eden — or after our redemption — that we could act entirely out of love with its natural rewards and with no consideration for the necessity to live by the sweat of our brow.
Does not Christian charity require us, then, to consider that the prostitute who in exchange for money makes love to men who otherwise would go loveless might be performing a sacred duty — as much as a nurse — and that the money given her is merely the means that supports her in her blessed vocation?
To deny that possibility appears to me pharisaical.
I am in no position to throw the first stone because I am not without sin.
I love to write. But I write for money.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — which told of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge and the lessons ghosts taught him about being more charitable — was first published on December 19, 1843 and made lots of money for its author. It has made even more money for book publishers, movie producers, and other entrepreneurs who didn’t write it.
The Christmas carol “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” was, according to its Wikipedia article, “written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and over 400,000 copies sold by Christmas.”
My father was a violinist. He began playing violin when he was five years old, and played the violin until he was literally too weak to hold it up. He spent hours each day isolated in a room with his violin, a music stand, a metronome, and poker chips on the floor to keep track of the number of times he practiced a passage. Playing violin was the first passion of his life, even more than for his wife or his children. But from age 16 to age 80 my father did not live a year in which he was not paid to play the violin.
“Chick” Gandil, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, was ring-leader of the plan to throw the 1919 World Series in exchange for money from gamblers, and was banned from Major League Baseball. Gandil nonetheless spent as much of the rest of his life as he was physically able playing baseball on any field he was allowed.
The surgical team who save a life by transplanting a kidney are all paid to perform the operation. But it’s illegal for the kidney donor to be paid.
The Pope has an all-expenses life paid for by Church donations, and so does every cardinal, bishop, priest, nun, and monk — and that includes Mother Teresa who won the Nobel Peace Prize, was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta … and who expressed a belief in the spiritual goodness of poverty. If she had been forced to live in a palace she would have been miserable; nonetheless, like the rest of the human race she needed to eat … and some human being had to pay for the food that was put on her plate.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., makes money from lectures, books, videos, and CD’s.
Jesus may have turned water into wine for the Wedding at Cana, but I’m still pretty sure the wedding band got paid.
And God paid Moses a stipend of manna for leading the Hebrews out of Egypt.
For many years the International Olympic Committee — a corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland — forbade athletes who had been paid to play sports from participating in Olympic games, which were supposed to be restricted to “amateurs.” During those years athletes completely supported by their governments were nonetheless allowed to compete.
If someone is paid by taxpayer money they’re not mercenary. If they’re paid by a private person they are.
What a crock of hypocrisy.
If you love doing something and can get rich by doing it — instead of having to support yourself by doing something you do only because of the money — there’s a word for what you are.
Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter XVI: Moonshiners, Medicine Men, and Merchants of Death
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
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