Tonight I had the good pleasure of having my entire family gathered for dinner. It was a great opportunity for a moral discussion. Being as the aging truck I’ve been driving did not pass inspection this week, it looks like I’m going to have bite the bullet and get another vehicle. “I’m thinking about an older Mazda Miata,” I said.
Of course neither of my daughters knew what that is, so I explained a bit about it. “It’s a two-seater, but since your mom and I only drive about two miles to work and back each day, that’s really all we need. It’s a light car with a four cylinder engine, so it’s efficient and gets great gas mileage. It’s reliable. And since the ones I’m looking at are 10 years old or older, I wouldn’t carry collision on it. It would be cheap to insure.”
“So what’s the problem?” they asked.
“Well,” I replied, “it is a sports car. I wouldn’t want people to think that the hard-earned money they so graciously and generously give to the church is being used for anything other than to do more good.” Everyone saw the problem.
I didn’t like the direction this was going. So, being that we were at Cracker Barrel (no surprise there, right?) I decided to bring our waiter into it. “Sean,” I asked, “are you a person of faith?” My daughters dropped their eyes and groaned.
“I like to think so,” he said.
“Here’s why I ask. I’m a priest…” At this Sean’s eyebrows shot up, so I quickly added, “… an Episcopal priest. This is my wife and daughters.”
“Oh,” he said, relieved. “I was wondering. Hi!”
“Anyway, the truck I’ve been driving aged to the point where it didn’t pass inspection this week, so it looks like I need to get a new vehicle. I’m thinking about a Mazda Miata. Do you think that’s a problem?”
“A Miata?” he said, rolling his eyes. “Why would you get that? I mean why not an older Trans-am or a Corvette?” Clearly my kind of guy. Now we were getting somewhere.
“Well,” I said, “I wouldn’t want the people in my church to feel like their money was being used poorly. If you were in my church, how would you feel if I drove up in a sports car?”
“Heck,” he said, “my last pastor drove a Mercedes.”
I wish I could say that settled the question. And maybe it did. But if so, it too seemed to weigh against the answer for which I’d been hoping.