Saturday, 1 September 2007


I read a stimulating book by Miroslav Volf (American theologian at Yale Univeristy) called "Free of charge: giving and forgiving in a culture stripped of grace". Here are some highlights.

"If I were to say that today everything is solid and nothing is given, that would be an exaggeration. But like any good caricature, it distorts reality in order to draw attention to what is characteristic. Mainly, we're set up to sell and buy, not to give and receive. We tend to give nothing free of charge and receive nothing free of charge: "The person who volunteers time, who helps a stranger, who agrees to work for a moderate wage out of commitment to the public good, who desists from littering even when no one is looking...begins to feel like a sucker" (p.14)

"Far too often power - not fairness and certainly not generosity - is the name of the game. We assert ourselves and our own interests through raw physical strength, political connections, or loads of cash..." (p.14)

"Yet Jesus taught that is is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35), and part of growing up is learning the art of giving. If we fail to learn this art, we will live unfulfilled lives." (p.17)

"To give to God is to take from God's right hand and put that very thing back into God's left hand." (p.33)

"We live, not so much on a borrowed, but on a given breath. We work, we create, we give, but the very ability and willingness to work, along with life itself, are gifts from God." (p. 34)

"God gives so that we can help others exist and flourish as well. God's gifts aim at making us into generous givers, not just fortunate receivers. God gives so that we, in human measure, can be givers too." (p.47)