Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Getting it right

This was given as a guest sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta on February 19th, 2012. It benefitted greatly from the advice of the UUSO minister, Rev. Craig Schwallenberg. It was preceded by three short readings.

“The value of a unit of currency is a measure of one’s trust in other human beings.”
—David Graeber

My earliest memory of money is of seeing my mother at her desk, paying bills. I asked what she was doing, and she explained. Then I asked about that little book that she was writing in and tearing things out of, and she told me it was a checkbook, and explained how that worked. How she and Dad, instead of using money to pay for things, would write out a check.

And I thought to myself, How cool is that?

At some point, of course, she explained to me that the checkbook wasn’t some magic way of paying for things without having money, that they had to put money in the bank first, and only then could they write checks.

But it turns out I wasn’t quite as wrong as a child as I later thought I had been.


For an explanation of what these are doing here, see this.

Mullah Nasruddin is a possibly real character from Turkey, who may have lived in the 13th century. Like many folk figures, he has drawn to himself all sorts of tales about clever fools and getting the better of others through your wits.

Nasruddin and the donkey

Nasruddin’s neighbor once came by to ask if he could borrow his donkey for an unexpected errand. Nasruddin obliged, but the next day the neighbor was back again—he needed to take some grain to be milled. Before long he was showing up almost every morning, barely feeling he needed a pretext. Finally, Nasruddin got fed up, and one morning told him his brother had already come by and taken the donkey.

Just as the neighbor was leaving he heard a loud braying sound from the yard.

“Hey, I thought you said the donkey wasn’t here!”

“Look, who are you going to believe?” asked Nasruddin. “Me, or some animal?"