Banking on God: Church Finances, Part 1


We work, we give. But what happens to that money once it leaves our wallets and hits the red velvet bullseye of the collection plate?


Well, this poll does a good job showing that most of us know where the money goes. Good for those churches who are clear about their finances. I know mine goes into excruciating detail.

For those few who aren’t getting the whole story, what’s your take on the situation? Why do some churches hide their finances, even when there’s nothing illicit going on? As for those who said that not all line items got equal attention, what expenditures do you believe the church isn’t telling you about?


As befits an active and informed readership, most of you knew what was up with your church’s finances. That’s a good thing. I wish every Christian in this country knew what was up with church expenditures.


In keeping with the state of the stats so far, few had anything bad to say about how their church spent money. Anyone care to share their displeasure and what can be done to resolve it?


If poll respondents are any indication, one church out of three has a negative cash flow. I would love to know (and should have asked) which of the negative responders belonged to a church with less than 200 members and which might actually belong to a megachurch. We assume that megachurches are rolling in dough, but that’s less true, I think, than some would imagine.

For the people who responded that their churches were highly prosperous, what do you believe made them so? And on the opposite end, to those who said their churches were running in the red, what made them that way?


A quarter of you said that money interfered with your church’s mission. In what ways? Not having enough money can put a negative spin on even the best of intentions and lead to a sense of doom within a congregation. Too much money turns a church into Laodiceans.

While it’s nice to see that two-thirds of you feel confident enough to inform your church should you encounter financial hardship, the third who could not…well, you have my condolences. I would hope that we all could. While some of that reluctance may be our own pride, I know that for some of you, the gossip would start flying about you the second you opened your mouth. And that’s a shame. Fear in a church can be a real poison, especially when lack of trust undergirds it.


This surprised me most of all. I’m glad to see that such an astounding number of people could go to their churches and request financial help and get it without strings attached. That’s very heartening.

David Fitch wrote in The Great Giveaway that this is one area that most churches do poorly. From the answers here, a large majority of people go to very generous churches. So perhaps Fitch is wrong.

What say you all?


This must be one of those “only in other people’s churches” questions because I can tell you dozens of gruesome stories about how badly some folks who needed financial help got pummeled by their churches. Each of those stories just breaks my heart.

But evidently, that’s not you folks. That’s good to hear.

So where are all these churches that mistreat their people in this regard? Perhaps it’s a different kind of Christian who gets the cold shoulder, not the kind who visits blogs like this one and answers poll questions about giving. I don’t know. Like I said, I know plenty of examples, some too close for comfort.

I’ll turn this around and ask you all if the runaway majority answer on this question surprised you.



The results on this poll surprised me, too, since I know few churches who have benevolence funds set aside for members. Non-members, outsiders, and folks from the community, yes, but sometimes the flock gets neglected when it comes to the largess.


Given the previous two poll answers, who then is handing out the money in these churches that give it away? Is it simply individuals acting apart from the church, or is it the pastor on his own?

For those who answered that their church has a benevolence fund, if there’s no group overseeing that money, who is doling it out?



I find these last two polls fascinating because they seem to show that people aren’t so interested in spending money on the administration of their church as they are the mission. The decaying remains of HeritageUSAYet how do you have the mission without paying for the administration?

It’s a poser, as the Brits say.

We all want to give to charities that have low overhead, but I’ve got to believe that churches are not such ministries. I’ve seen enough balance books over the years to know that the actual running of the church as business entity saps more funds than most of us realize. I know that my own church has been attempting to pay off its mortgage by adding a premium payment. We also got several thousand dollars upgrade of our sound system.

It’s a tough, tough call, isn’t it, knowing what finances advance the Kingdom and what ones may not? At least not on the surface…

Next post, I’ll give my own take on church expenditures and offer a few ideas for better addressing the mission while spending less on those things that burn in the end.

Stay tuned.

(And if you have a few minutes to pray for my family, I’d appreciate it. Sickness, bad news, and “What next?” have been the orders of the week. Thanks!)


Banking On God: Series Compendium

The Great Giveaway, Part 3


The Great GiveawayThe finale of a three-part review (Part 1, Part 2) of David E. Fitch's The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, and Consumer Capitalism.

The final chapters (with the book's final summary chapter omitted from the review):

    6. Our Understanding of Justice
    7. Spiritual Formation
    8. Moral Education


Our Understanding of Justice


Fitch starts this chapter with a bang: what would happen in a church if a woman stood up during Sunday service and announced that she just found out she has breast cancer? The kicker: she says she has no health insurance. 

Evangelicals talk a great deal about helping others, but our execution is profoundly flawed. We tend to think of benevolence and justice as something a Christian individual does on his or her own. Fitch notes that justice begins inside the Body of Christ and extends outward. We serve our own as a community and our community serves those outside the community. We owe as much benevolence to the brethren as we do to the poor and hurting outside the church doors, But, too often, we fail to see how we ignore people within our own congregations as if the only brownie points we get from God are for helping strangers.

Like everything else, we've mangled the way the church should reach out. We've made it too individualized, the old "my ministry" mantra. But Fitch claims no real social justice exists apart from the local church as a whole operating to meet the needs of the needy.

The source for our broken ideals of justice and mercy are rooted in democracy and capitalism. Democracy marginalizes the minority and the weak, while capitalism exploits them. Our entire culture is based on winners and losers, but the are supposed to be no winners and losers inside the Church. The Church, so co-opted by culture, cannot see the malignancy that capitalism and democracy bring to this issue of justice. Christ's justice is not of this world and it trumps the systems we adhere to. The Kingdom of God supercedes politics and economics. We cannot say we are righteous if we fail to understand that social responsibility in the Bible is a component of righteousness.

Likewise, we base a person's value on his or her job, not on the value that Christ gives a person. The American Church's obsession with big business means it can no longer discern business success from spiritual success. We must learn that the two cannot abide together, much less determine levels of success in the Kingdom of God.

As to the woman suffering from breast cancer, Fitch recommends that churches set up leaders who hear requests for aid. These teams go beyond just handing out money, but seek to resolve sin issues in the needy person's life that may have led them into the state they're in. They work with the needy to help them overcome practices that caused their need, hold them to accountability, and offer grace. In the boldest move of all, Fitch recommends that no benevolence be given outside the local church. If people need help, one of the requirements must be that they join the worshiping body. With that given, no one walks alone through trials.


Apart from the misguided digs at democracy and capitalism (which I'll discuss further down), this chapter is easily the best in the book. Nearly everything Fitch discusses you've already read on Cerulean Sanctum. The Church in this country is simply not speaking about corrupt business practices, jobs, unemployment, health care, and a host of other issues that come down to everyday needs in the lives of people around us. We're too stuck in godless bootstrap thinking and "God helps those who help themselves."

But that's not Kingdom thinking; it's a cheap way to excuse us from being responsible to others in our community. As we know, though, Jesus praised the Good Samaritan and not the smug priests and Levites. Real community means that one person's problem is everyone's problem. Amish and Mennonite communities understand this, but we Evangelicals are too stuck in our self-righteous modernity to get it.

As to Fitch's woeful understanding of democracy and capitalism, he commits the classic blunder of lumping defective practices in with proper practices, calling it all wicked.

Capitalism and democracy in and of themselves are neutral systems. Both can be abused, Both can offer great results.

Capitalism goes wrong is when it globalizes. Capitalism is an outstanding form of economics when coupled with local economies. Our country largely operated in this manner early on. Localized economies that practice capitalism cannot afford to have winners and losers because losers damage the community. If one farmer undercuts everyone in the community and puts others out of business, the entire community suffers for the bankruptcies that result. Capitalism within localized economies is naturally self-correcting. (Other balancing factors exist, but that's a whole 'nother post, as they say.) But on a globalized scale, winners and losers are natural because the losers can be located so far away that they (supposedly) do not affect local, regional, or even national communities. That's wrong, though. We can't operate that way even though it looks like we won't be the ones to suffer.

Then answer is to revitalize capitalism within local communities, not villify it altogether. The same goes for democracy.

Despite this problem in the chapter, Fitch nails our mistaken attitudes toward helping others and offers excellent solutions to better the Church's outreach to the broken and needy. 


Spiritual Formation


We've capitulated to psychobabble in our churches. Instead of operating from Biblical principles of sin, repentence, and restitution within a spiritual family, we've chosen to dignify sin through the manmade nonsense we call psychotherapy.

Pyschology is a worldview that competes against Christianity. As a result, it cannot be adequately reconciled with Christianity. Pyschology exalts the self, while Christianity says the self must die at the cross. Modernism created psychology because it sought scientific and rational explanations for Man's broken image. Like all philosophies that have their origins in modernism, psychotherapy promotes individualism at the expense of community and preaches tolerance of thoughts and actions the Church says should never be tolerated. The solutions to Man's problems lie not in psychotherapy, but in Christ. The Church needs to recover its role as the primary God-approved means of bring mental health into the lives of the shattered.

Psychotherapy wars against true discipleship, making it hard for Christians caught in psychotherapy's insidious trap to grow closer to Christ. The Church must distance itself from psychotherapy and refrain from explaining Mankind's problems in psychological terms. True spiritual counseling rooted solely in the Scriptures should be restored to our churches. The Church must replace the psychotherapist's couch.

Along with the office of trained spiritual counselor, Evangelicals must restore the confessional. Much damage results from Evangelical churches shunning the hearing of personal confessions. We've attached too much judgment and not enough grace to those who have sinned and seek repentence. In many ways, our laxity toward personal confession may have been the impetus that pyschotherapy needed to gain a foothold in the Church.


You'll find no arguments from me against Fitch's points in this chapter. Every argument is salient and well-documented. In fact, I would say my overview does a disservice to the breadth of analysis Fitch offers for how we traded truth for a lie.


Moral Education


Education is one of the cornerstones of discipleship. Unfortunately, the way we school our young works against true discipleship and moral education.

Evangelicals gave away rituals and rites of passage that set godly waypoints in our walks with Christ. We've also placed too much emphasis on the freedom of the individual to pursue his or her own beliefs rather than indoctrinating that individual into the beliefs of the believing community.  Lastly, we've turned our kids over to those people who would indoctrinate them in a worldview foreign to true Christianity.

Public school is not the Church. The civil religion taught in public schools is not remotely Christian. Values education is a ruse, too, since no one set of values in our country can cover all values systems. The public schools cannot be trusted to teach anything Christian; only the Church can do that.

Homeschooling (here comes the flame war) is not the Church. No one family can adequately stand in for what the Church community as a whole can provide.  One family cannot be a culture in itself, nor is it capable of withstanding all of secular culture. A single family is also blind to its own sins, leaving holes in a child's moral education. Family dysfunctions are only multiplied within homeschooling environments.

Parochial schools are not the Church. A tendency exists even in Evangelical schools to promote allegiance to country over allegiance to the Kingdom of God. Parochial schools often ape their public school counterparts, but add a sheen of Christianity over the top. They do not always begin with Christ first, instead patterning their operation off worldly systems.

Only a child schooled in Christ within the whole church community will get a rounded education. The Church best speaks against worldviews, while allowing safety for the schooled to engage defective thought systems.

Fitch advocates a return to full-blown catechism in Evangelical churches, starting in infancy. His own church has a goal of preparing all children for baptism and membership by age ten. He believes that all educations systems within a church reinforce each other, so that kids and adults get the same (age-appropriate) teachings matched to the church year lectionary. Running the children out of the church service is a mistake, too.

A church that practices catechesis will by necessity be smaller in order that everyone know the people in the worshiping community. Such a church organizes its life around the community of believers, altering family schedules to put worship of Christ first.

Armed with such a catachesis program, no one educational practice (public school, paraochial, or homeschool) will undermine the worldview instilled in our children. Therefore, any type of school might be chosen.


In theory, I believe that Fitch is on track. He correctly identifies the flaws in every schooling system. He's absolutely right that we need to recover rites of passage within our churches. My own church is re-examining this need. Just this last Father's Day, we instituted an annual blessing of the children by their fathers (and mothers). I'm also a strong proponent of some type of catechism within the Church. I think we need some sort of worldview analysis and overview, too. Lastly, I believe the Church has a responsibility to prepare young people, starting as young as ten, for being Christian husbands and wives through some kind of marriage awareness program.

That said, I think Fitch overlooks what can go wrong with catechism. One would hope that a church would handle catechism correctly, but as long as there are teachers, flaws exist. A bad set of teachers leads to a badly implemented catechism. I've favored more of a whole church rite that pulls all the church's men into a process by which they mentor the boys in the church, with a similar program for the girls. This mitigates the possibility of getting a lousy teacher who's not with the program.

Final Thoughts on The Great Giveaway

Like I said in the first installment of this three-part review, everyone should read this book. I'm sure you'll take umbrage with at least a few of the author's analyses and solutions, but that's good. Again, discernment is not a blanket condemnation. Think about what Fitch writes and lay it before the Lord. You may find the Lord changes your heart.

Fitch understands the needs of the 21st century Church and the needs of those outside it. He correctly states our need for ritual, symbolism, art, and beauty within our congregations. His views concerning the need for real community—not the half-hearted attempt that passes for community in nearly every church—are prophetically accurate. Modernism has turned the Communion of Saints into an Army of One. But Christ never founded an Army of One; He founded a Church.

Despite the  faults of modernism, it can't become a boogeyman. It's too easy to blame modernism or postmodernism or some other -ism for our problems. What we need to do is get back to the simplicity of the Gospel. And that's what Fitch calls for in this book.

I mentioned before that most of his solutions to the Western Church's problems are old school. If your idea of a finely tuned Church is not something Anglican circa 1790, then I ask that you at least consider what we may have lost in our churches since that time. Few of us would say we're better off spiritually than that age, so perhaps fine tuning Evangelicalism to incorporate that old school thinking wouldn't be a bad idea.

Read the book. Any review is a disservice, especially with a book as densely packed with ideas as The Great Giveaway. Fitch has a blog, too (see Kingdom Links in the sidebar), so the conversation continues.

Blessings. I hope this review provoked you—at least a little bit. 

The Great Giveaway, Part 2


The Great Giveaway

The second of a three-part review (Part 1, Part 3 ) of David E. Fitch's The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, and Consumer Capitalism.

The middle three chapters:

    3. Leadership
    4. The Production of Experience
    5. The Preaching of the Word




In this chapter, Fitch laments the moral failures of today's pastors, claiming that much of the problem is due to Evagelicalism's fascination with pastors as CEOs rather than faithful shepherds. The "Pastor as CEO" model isolates the pastor from the rest of the fellowship, making him an outsider who must never falter. That perfectionistic ideal helps foster the very moral failures it seeks to prevent. It creates ministry class distinctions and reinforces the negative industrialized ideals of modernism, warping leadership into nothing more than science, efficiency, and "please the shareholder" thinking. Church Growth principles are largely, though not entirely, to blame for this transformation of pastoral leadership.

The penetration of modern business practices into church leadership turns Christianity into a set of techniques. Discipleship and leadership become nothing more than behavioral responses to proper programming rather than a living, vital faith. The Church cannot be the Body of Christ if it is founded on business ideals coated with Scripture to make them palatable. Scripture is our only source for leadership and discipleship, not TQM, ISO 9001, or whatever Jack Welch blabs about in his book Winning

By creating CEO pastors, we ensure the false idea that only one person is in charge. Only one person has the correct interpretation of Scripture. Only one person is equipped to minister. This fosters a passive congregation that acts as an audience,  giving away its responsibility to be a community of faith. All church life exists in community, and the pastor must be treated as a co-equal in that community. He must be allowed to stumble and to also seek, just as the individuals in the community do. Ministry is a community activity, not just something done by pastors. Interpretation of Scripture belongs to the community, too, not the pastor alone.

The model for real pastoral care is found in servanthood, not CEO-dom. Fitch longs for greater emphasis put on ordination as a rite into true service. He believes that too much had been made of pastors knowing facts from the Bible, and on seminary graduation, than on an ordination process with effective oversight. We make pastoring too much a science and a professional credential than a practice of humble service to others.

Fitch also wishes to see seminary training take on more of a monastic living style than being simply a time to perfect doctrine. Seminarians would live in groups, farm, cook meals, and eat together. In addition, they'd be expected to take part in group prayer times, participate in confessional and accountability groups, take care of children, serve the poor, and live out their beliefs in genuine, humble service. Pastors should also be a part of confessional groups after seminary. Fitch also recommends that pastors be bivocational to better understand the daily lives of their congregants. Any pressure this puts on a lone pastor would be dispersed by eliminating the concept of a church served by only one pastor. Instead, churches would be better served by teams of leadership and not a pastor alone.


I thought this chapter was brilliant. While Fitch may have attributed too much of today's pastoral problems to business practices, his practical solutions are right on, more than covering his narrow focus. We must do something to cure our seminaries of their one-sided leanings toward the purely rational and didactic. Too much of what today's seminarians learn is theoretical and not enough practical. The return to a more monastic type of seminary would better turn out servants and not CEOs.

Giving church control to congregations and not one or two individuals is also critical. While many churches believe they do this with their pastoral staffs, too often it's more like the king and his court than a parliament of leadership equals. As for the idea of bivocational pastors, I know that too many pastors have been so insulated in the pastorate they lose all touch with what working people face in the cut-throat business world we have today. Being bivocational also reinforces the idea of servanthood, since few vocations will find a pastor dwelling in the corporate penthouse. Being one of the tiny cogs in the corporate machine would go a long way to waking up Church leaders in America to the moral disaster we've created with our modern business practices.


The Production of Experience


Are we worshiping God or creating personalized experiences? Fitch claims that Evangelicalism has veered into selfishness by overemphasizing the role of the individual. Modernism exalted the individual, but worship must be a communal activity, "Us," not "Me."  Modernism's conceit here is that one person can possess all the truth. Fitch says that the truth of the Gospel is meant for communities, and it is within community that heresy is fought and the truths of God best revealed to each person.

In this chapter, Fitch delves deeply into postmodernism, showing that, if left to its own, the modernistic individualism that so permeates our churches today ensures everyone hears a different Gospel. He takes on the subjective way in which we worship and communicate the Gospel, claiming that we're only fragmenting the truth of God in a consumeristic fashion. He writes that we need to recover narrative preaching and an understanding of the Gospel as a redemptive story that includes you and me. Framing what Christ did within history ties us into the traditional church of our ancestors.

His remedies for glitzy, experience-driven churches are old school. First, he longs for a return to liturgy (though he allows for a modernization) because it grounds the church meeting in shared worship and meaning. Rituals and rites of passage have their place in the Church, but Protestants gave them away in their mad rush to distance themselves from Roman Catholicism. Fitch also argues that Protestants mistakenly gave away symbols, art, music, and all things beautiful in their worship, sterilizing it from the rest of culture. He also desires a return to a Church calendar, at least in part, where churches better follow Advent, Pentecost, and some other regular seasons that have been abandoned in most Evangelical churches. Along those same lines, he believes Evangelicals have cheapened the meaning of the communion meal, relegating it to a few words spoken over grape juice and crackers rather than the meaningful meal it once was.


Anyone familiar with "Ancient/Future" discussions within the Emerging Church will recognize much of Fitch's commentary. He decries the shallowness of Evangelicalism created by false pietism and rugged individualism. In that, he's largely right. Evangelicals have run screaming from anything that smacks of the ritualistic group-think of Roman Catholicism, save for some Evangelical Lutheran, Anglican, and Episcopal churches that still practice many of the unifying rites and rituals he recommends.

Having grown up in an Evangelical Lutheran congregation, I can honestly say that I do miss seasons like Advent and Pentecost. I do miss some, though not all, of the ritual practices. I agree wholeheartedly with Fitch that our church services today have been stripped of far too many elements that help root us in Christ and in community. The Old Testament practices of worship resemble the old school style more than what most Evangelical churches practice today. God, obviously, is not against ritual.

Despite my agreement with some of Fitch's ideas here, this chapter (and the one following) were by far the most turgid and philosophical. While he may be a good church practice analyst, Fitch struggles in places in The Great Giveaway to get his points across in a cogent and accessible manner.

The other lack comes from Fitch not addressing the flaws in his solutions. Many Evangelicals fled the kind of church Fitch advocates. But Fitch doesn't deal with the lacks in liturgical churches heavy on "symbolism and meaning" that led to their diminishment today. While any thoughtful reader will be able to fill in the blanks here, some acknowledgment by the author would better help readers develop a true Evangelical practice that avoids what killed liberal Protestant churches that still practice liturgy.


The Preaching of the Word


Expository preaching fails because meaning is not universal. What the pastor preaches and the congregant understands are not necessarily the same thing. This only sows confusion and discord. Cultural and societal standards also create different meanings within a Scriptural passage. The Asian, African, and American will not interpret the same passage the same way because their cultures are different.

Fitch asserts that modern science governs the way the Bible is interpreted today. But processing a passage through a specific set of exegetical lenses cannot guarantee the correct interpretation of meaning. For this reason, Fitch  decries the Reformation's idea that each person can correctly interpret Scripture. With so many interpretations of a single passage abounding today, how can anyone, especially a preacher, be more than just a picker and chooser of this interpretation or that?

Seeker-sensitive churches accuse Bible churches of keeping the Bible shrouded so that those outside Christ cannot understand its message. Bible churches accuse seeker-sensitive churches of watering down the Gospel. Fitch claims both are missing the point.  The preaching of the Word must be seen in a communal context in which its meaning is held by the community that submits to it. Because meaning is held by a community, it is self-correcting of wayward individuals. No one person has "cornered the market" on a passage's meaning. The community, not the individual, does the interpreting.

Fitch advises that we recapture the narrative value of Scripture that draws the individual into a shared understanding. While expository preaching hands the listener a to-do list, narrative preaching puts us listeners in the story of God's redemptive acts so that we can better understand who God is and how He can use us in His story. This type of preaching resists forcing Scripture to be interpreted by culture rather than the other way around. Likewise, narrative preaching allows prescriptions (to-dos) to naturally follow description, the way the Bible lays out truth.

In the practical vein, Fitch asks that we return to lectionary reading that follows the church seasons. We should also return the speaking of the Word in our meetings to the congregation, rather than simply the clergy. Call and response uses of the Scriptures help the people absorb that they are responsible for what they hear. The application points of the typical expository message must return to a more holistic design that asks something of the gathered hearers immediately after the message. Fitch also calls for dialogue between the preacher and congregation after a message to better promote understanding, retention, and action. All interpretation must be tested by the congregation as a whole and not one individual.


Ah, Jacques Derrida! He raises his ugly, meaningless head again.

This chapter of The Great Giveaway is, by far, the most labored and least successful in the book. Problems abound on nearly every page. Fitch goes too emergent here, too conceptual, too philosophical, too buzzword, and ultimately derails.

Words have meaning. That meaning may vary from culture to culture, but where Fitch sees this as a lack in expository preaching, I see it as a strength. The African or Asian preacher has something to teach me about a passage that I may not have heard through my American cultural lens. Whereas Fitch sees that as a testament to the weakness of exposition, I see it as a strength. Fitch commits a grave error here by saying the whole of Christendom cannot hold multiple interpretations of the same passage. I see no problem with that, even if they appear to conflict. If anything, denominations that hold to one approved interpretation are much more likely to miss the nuances that make the Bible profound. The Bible is rich. It has rich meaning. Yes, no one person has a handle on all its truth, but together we get a better vision of its depth.

Fitch also holds the local church in too high esteem for its ability to rightly divide Scriptures. What's to say the church across the street doesn't have a different interpretation than what my church community decided. In truth, that's how it is now from church to church, so how is Fitch's recommendation better than what is already going on? 

While it may be a logical fallacy to equate the two, the poor understanding most Christians have of the Bible today parallels the demise of expository preaching in many Evangelical churches.  Somewhere in those two facts lurks a correlation. Nor is narrative preaching a surefire hit. I've been in churches that preach like Fitch recommends and Biblical knowledge can be just as sorely lacking as anywhere else. Nor is this a prescription against heresy. Again, witness liberal liturgical churches and their horrendous ability to self-correct using the type of preaching Fitch advocates.

This chapter of the book doesn't work—period. I didn't follow most of Fitch's points because he didn't make them as clearly in this chapter as in others. Either the argument is too subtle for his writing style, or else Fitch doesn't have enough ammo to fight the fight he picked. Either way, too much of this chapter reads like mumbo-jumbo. Considering I'm already familiar with complaints by the Emrging Church against expository preaching, that's a sad indictment of this chapter. Worse yet, some of Fitch's recommendations for practice (while nice to have in a church) aren't prescriptive for the ills Fitch himself exposes earlier in the chapter.

While I agree that expository preaching as it's done today is not as effective as it could be, I don't have good answers as to how to better it. Nor does David Fitch.

So we end this second part of the review on a down note. But stay tuned, because Part 3 of this review will cover what I believe to be the best portion of The Great Giveaway.