The Widow's Mite

I've been thinking about a passage from the Gospel of Mark, that's often referred to as "the Widow's mite."

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.[

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

The passage has been in my mind because of a piece I did on Phil Vischer, the founder of Big Idea Productions, the maker of Veggie Tales. The company went bankrupt last summer, and was sold off this past December.

What went wrong? Vischer said it was because he was driven to make the biggest impact possible for God--he had to do big things for God--because he thought that was the most important thing in life.

What he never considered, he told me, was that it might be just as important to do small things for God. Which now, after losing Big Idea, is what he's up to. Doing small things for God and letting God take care of the impact of those small things.

That's the point of the Widow's mite. Small things matter. That's something to remember in these days when megachurches and bestselling spiritual books get all the headlines.


Ghosts in India

The folks over at getreligion.org often talk about "ghosts" in mainstream new stories--hints that there's a religion theme in there somewhere, below the surface.

Well, there's a great big one in India, where Sonia Gandhi is about to become the new prime minister.

It's really a remarkable story--the news out of Indian politics in recent years has been mostly about the rise of Hindu nationalism--and now, Ghandi, the Catholic widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991, may just be the country's Prime Minister.

Most of the initial news about this week's election in India focused on the "India Shining" campaign of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The campaign, which focused on India's economic growth, reportedly alienated many poor voters who have missed out on economic progress.

Ghandi, though, thinks that voters also rejected the Hindu fundamentalism of the BJP.

"The people of India have spoken," Gandhi was quoted as saying by the LA Times. "They have once again reaffirmed what we all believed in all along, what we all believed in our hearts, that the soul of our nation is secular, is all inclusive--is one."

It is ironic, that at the same time a Catholic woman may become the leader of the world's largest democracies--because she married outside the faith in 1968--the Vatican issued a new warning to Catholics not to marry Muslims. This ruling is apparently aimed at Catholic women who marry outside the faith.

The Christian Science Monitor has a different twist on why the BJP lost, at least from one party activist.

. . . by focusing on economics, at the expense of social issues - such as rewriting the Constitution to reflect Hindu values, and removing special privileges for minorities - the BJP has angered a half-dozen social organizations that make up its core base of support. Now, these activists want their party back.

"The BJP has deviated from the path of Lord Ram [a Hindu god] and adopted that of Ravana [the mythical demon that Ram slew]," said Praveen Togadia, leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a militant Hindu social organization that supports the BJP. "Hindus have taught the BJP a lesson."


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