Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is it "Christian" to get royaltes?

A few weeks ago, the Catholic Writers Online got to debating about the attitude that those who are writing Catholic or Christian works should not make money on them. Some have come across the attitude from others that since they wrote their book, article, magazine, what-have-you for the Glory of God, they should give it away. Others struggle with the thought that they should expect royalties.

One person commented, "There seems to be a Puritanical thought among some who believe that money itself is evil."

Now there's an ironic statement--Catholic Puritanism.

I wonder, too, how many people believe that because they are doing something "in the service of the Lord" that they need to passively wait for God to "bless it" by giving them sales, money, etc. I've seen this attitude, not just by authors in book sales, but in everyday living. These people are afraid to promote their works because they didn't do it "for the money," but for faith. promoting it themselves, therefore, would be greedy; getting the book published is enough, and if God is pleased, He will cause others to find it.

This might stem from that "God will provide if we only trust in Him" mentality. There's the feeling that the corollary is true and God will not provide if we show distrust by doing something for ourselves.

It reminds me of the old joke: There was a man who wanted to do great things for the Church, but he was very poor. So each night, he prayed, "Lord, let me win the Lottery so I can do these things for you."

As the years passed, the man made his plans: he had blueprints for a fantastic church, a school, a hospital, programs for the needy. Every night, he showed his plans to the Lord and said, "Lord, these are the things I want to do for You. I'm not asking for myself. Just let me win the Lottery to do this for You."

The man died, poor and unable to fulfill his dreams. When he went to Heaven, he said to the Lord, "Didn't you find my works pleasing? Why wouldn't you help me fund them?"

"They were great, wonderful ideas, and I loved you and them," God replied, "but why didn't you buy a lottery ticket?"

There's also the fear from some that if they do push their works, that they are glorifying themselves and not the Lord. (Sometimes I feel that way about promoting Infinite Space, Infinite God. I tend to stop and say, "Lord, help me remember this is for you and not me--and if I ever stop doing this for you, just let it stop altogether 'till I get a clue.")

We have to remember that God expects us to work for Him. Jesus didn't conduct his ministry by carving a lovely sign over his door and saying, "God, I trust you to bring the people to me." Neither did his disciples wait for the Church to grow--they traveled, spoke the Truth, wrote letters.

Now we're not all ministers, so let's look instead at the Parable of the Talents. (Matthew 25) Three slaves are given some money (talents) by their Master: one gets five; the second, three; and the last, only one. Both the slaves with the five and three talents take that money and do something with it. The last slave buries it. Who did the Master reward?

You might say God gives us talents by our talent of writing and that we need to use it by writing things for His good. But take it a step further. You have a talent in a physical sense as well--the book you've written. Now that it's done, and in your hands, so you set it aside in hopes someone will "invest" it for you? Or do you do your own investment work by getting out there and promoting it?

Promotion is a talent, too. Don't be afraid like the slave who buried his.

And if it bothers you to receive money, there are plenty of worthy causes out there who can use your support. Do God's work twice.

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