Let freedom ring.
He'd say it in a crotchety old voice--not that he was crotchety and old then, not that he is even now--but the voice communicated that credit cards, while perhaps useful in certain situations, were just not worth the trouble.
"Uh huh," I'm sure I told him. But when I went off to college I got one anyway because there were plenty of things that were worth the trouble: plane tickets home, books for class, and--let's be honest here--more than a few dinners and CDs and clothes. Although I never articulated it as such, that card gave me the feeling of freedom.
I'm sure the wisdom my dad wanted to impart was that real freedom lies outside of what we own and that, simply put, being indebted to someone--whether Citicorp or a friend who loans you $20--is just not freedom.
I flashed back to my dad's words earlier this week as my 7-month-old daughter and I sat playing on the floor near my purse. This girl who hasn't started crawling yet managed to open my bag, go straight for my wallet, and slide out my bank card. (Don't worry, Dad, it was the debit card--not the credit card!) It was both fascinating and disturbing to see how long she studied it, turning the shiny plastic thing over and back as she held it delicately between her index finger and thumb. I finally wrestled it away from her when she tried to put it in her mouth.
Now that credit card companies have been caught sending solicitations to babies, I'm sure I'll be echoing the words "Never get a credit card" long before my father ever said them to me.
But I'm scared when I think of our future expenses: braces and tuition, pets and piano lessons. Even now, as we feel the confines of our one-bedroom home and remember that our trusty car is pushing 12 years, my husband and I know some big expenses are looming.
That's why I especially enjoyed this month's cover story, "Maxed out: The spiritual cost of personal debt" by Leslie Scanlon (pages 12-17). In her down-to-earth style, Scanlon cuts through the myths of our consumer culture and examines how churches are dealing--or not dealing--with an issue that plagues so many of their parishioners.
But put away your money woes long enough to soak up the last days of summer and this issue's seasonal offerings: "Yes, we have no tomatoes," an essay by gardener-on-sabbatical Christina Zaker (pages 38-39); "Labor force," a profile of Jerry Butkiewicz by Vincent Gragnani (pages 48-49); and a Sounding Board for the new school year, "Let's go public in support of education" by Chicago Public Schools administrator Sister Barbara McCarry, O.S.B. (pages 24-28).
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|Title Annotation:||Consumerism and church|
|Author:||Gary, Heather Grennan|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2005|
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