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40th Birthday Fundraising

giveAs my 40th birthday approaches, as for many people, it has become a time for reflection on what I have achieved and how I have lived my life so far.

One thing that has been on my mind has been this: As someone who committed to a life of serving the Church at the age of 17, and never really having worked outside the Church in my entire adult life, I accepted early that I would never become wealthy, and that never really bothered me. I figured as long as I devoted myself to ministry, at least my basic needs would be taken care of, and my only real material vices are books – and travel, especially the ability to visit friends and family on occasion.

I have been blessed with many opportunities and experiences. I have donated a wealth of time and talent to the Church and the community – but one regret, you might say, I have in choosing the life of a theologian and minister is that I have never had the means to be quite as financially generous as I would like. Particularly for those organizations from which I benefited in my formative years, or whose work I support and admire in my own modest way, I wanted to give a little back, with your help.

As I started to think about how to do this, Facebook started its fundraiser pages. While not quite as flexible as I dreamed, it certainly seems one of the easiest ways to go. My thought is simple – possibly naively so, but I hope in its simplicity there is broad appeal.

I am picking a dozen causes in a variety of areas that have played a role in my life at some point in the last forty years, either directly or indirectly, and which I would like to ‘give’ something more than my usual very modest amount.

$1000 to €1000 per cause seems like an entirely doable and meaningful, though still modest, amount. Too much for me alone (my entire rent and food budget!), but not too much when spread over a couple dozen – or more – of nearly 2000 Facebook friends, other colleagues, friends, acquaintances and strangers on the street.

Symbolically, I hope that people would consider a donation of 40 somethings in honor of my 40th birthday – whether Dollars or Euros or Pounds or Bitcoin is up to you, but I am thinking about what one might spend on a nice dinner out or a birthday gift for a friend as a model.

As for the causes, I will roll out one each month with specifics of both what program within each organization I am supporting, if applicable, and why it is important to me. My initial brainstorm gave me a few dozen possible causes, but I have narrowed it down, almost, to a dozen – one for each month of my 40th year. (Though, recommendations and reminders still welcome).

My March 2018 cause: Scouting. Donate here.

List of causes/organizations for the year:


Scouting, international:


Christians in Middle East:




The Ides of March

Julius Caesar's Pyre & Temple

I remember being told by some middle school science teacher that each of us probably had two molecules of Caesar’s last breath in our biological makeup. Naturally, given my birth on the anniversary of his assassination, I have always had an interest – I do not think I would go so far as to say a connection – with the Roman Dictator.

I also cannot tell you how many times in my life I have heard the phrase uttered, “Beware the Ides of March” instead of the usual “Happy Birthday!”

With March being full of intensive courses, I was not able to get the full effect of Rome’s celebration honoring its first leader to be officially deified. The site of his funeral pyre, in the heart of the ancient Foro Romano, is modest by comparison to some of the temples around it, but is still adorned with fresh flowers almost daily by Roman devotees. Near the statue of Julius on the Via Forii Imperialli we witnessed a troop of costumed youth re-enacting the story of Caesar and his assassination in 44 B.C.

Julius Caesar statue on Fori Imperiali

While the Roman Senate house is still visible on the Roman forum, it was not in this building where as many as 60 senators participated in his assassination. Instead, meetings were taking place across town, near the Area Sacra at Largo Argentina, in the Theatre of Pompey. There is a restaurant, I’m told, where you can access the basement and eat in part of what was the building in which Caesar was killed. I did not get around to making reservations this year, but maybe next!

Instead, we had a typically great meal at the Lay Centre, and thanks to the intervention of my favorite Dutch theologian-diplomat, Feda baked a delicious flourless chocolate cake popular in Italy known as Torta della Nonna (Grandmother’s Cake).

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