Does God Owe You a Refund?

Colonial Church of San Sebastian, Mazatlan, Mexico.

Colonial Church of San Sebastian, Mazatlan, Mexico.

It’s Sunday, so it’s time for a parable:

Winston Bloot was a pious man, who also had a sharp business acumen. One Sunday after church services, his minister took him aside for a heart-to-heart.

“Winston, I’ve been examining the records, and it appears you haven’t tithed at all since the first of the year. Has there been some sort of mistake?” inquired Reverend Nosyparker.

“Perhaps on your part, because indeed, I have been tithing.” Winston growled passionately, piercing the reverend’s skull with a gimlet eye. “However, it is true I’ve left no envelopes in the collection plate since the first of the year.”

The reverend scratched his head, cuing further explanation.

“You see, Reverend, I’ve been calculating my taxes. Last year I paid an effective tax rate of 29% of my total income. That comes to roughly $29,000, because my total income last year was about $100,000. This includes self-employment tax and everything.

“Over the prior year I also donated 10% of my income to this church, which worked out to about $10,000. Thus, the total amount I paid out to the causes of church and state last year was $39,000, or 39% of my income. However according to the Bible and all the fine sermons you deliver, the tithing rate is only 10%. Thus I over-tithed by 29%, or $29,000, last year.

“My conclusion, Reverend, is that God owes me a refund of $29,000.”

The reverend shook his head vigorously. “No, no, that’s not true. In the Bible, Jesus said, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ The state tax and God’s tax are two different things.”

“But don’t all people, including Caesar, belong to God? So if I render to Caesar, or in these days, Obama, haven’t I rendered to God?”

The reverend was defeated. He could continue to sermonize, argle-bargle, shame, and make many different cases and points. But his experience with other non-tithing parishioners told him that he wouldn’t be able to convince brother Bloot of the error of his ways. They all stood firmly by their casuist rationalizations. This is why men and women of the cloth usually struggle to make ends meet. It’s very hard to compete with government taxation.

The best he could do was continue to get up every Sunday morning and deliver sermons about the evils of liberalism, and promote conservative candidates who promised to shrink the size of government.

Small government means more money available for tithing. And it means less money going toward government programs that confute the teachings of the Bible. Such as scientific research.

Small government means the needy would have to turn to religious organizations for their charity. This would increase the membership and power of the church.

Reverend Nosyparker seems to be part of a sunset industry, valiantly but vainly struggling against the government. Tithing has decreased to historic lows in America. Church attendance has declined precipitously. The common charity these days is government, and the prevalent religion is science. This can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.

But if you’re paying at least 10% of your income in taxes, and tithing above that, perhaps you’re over-tithing.

And perhaps God owes you a refund.

Toilet Fight

My wife and I have been fighting over the toilet. It developed a hard-water ring around the bowl. One of my jobs in the house is to keep the bathroom clean, so I took on the job of ridding our toilet from this unsightly ring.

I told my wife not to use the toilet for the next eight hours. I was going to drain the bowl, then place a vinegar-soaked towel over the ring, and allow it to baste overnight. Vinegar dissolves hard-water deposits, so I thought this ingenious plan would make me the Bathroom Employee of the Year.

She seemed irritated. “All you have to do is scrub that ring with a pumice stone. That’s the proper way to clean a toilet.”

What the hell is a pumice stone? I wondered. “That sounds like it would scratch the toilet. No, vinegar is a non-abrasive method. Just let me do it my way. If you have to pee, just go in the backyard.”

“What if I have to poop?” she shot back.

“We have a pooper scooper,” I pointed out.

She was not happy, and I learned decades ago that happy wife equals happy life. But there’s my pride, you see. I’m the bathroom expert. The bathroom is my bailiwick. Nobody tells me how to clean the bathroom. And I’m certainly not going to scratch up the surface of our shiny porcelain shitter with a damned rock.

So at bedtime I proceeded with the plan. I drained the bowl. I carefully placed a vinegar-soaked towel over that unsightly hard-water ring. And then I shut out the lights and allowed chemistry to take its course.

In the morning I got up first. I watered the backyard tree, due to the toilet being out-of-commission. Then I got to work quickly, before Mrs. Pumice Stone woke up. I figured it would be no fun being around her, if she had to water the tree also.

My elbow grease.

The Mighty Drillbrush

I wiped it with the vinegar towel. The ring remained. I wiped again while rubbing harder. But the bowl still had that old familiar ring to it. So for some real scrubbing power, I deployed my mighty Drillbrush. Did the ring fade a little? I think so, but maybe that was my hopeful imagination.

I finally gave up.

My wife told me she was buying a pumice stone. She also said that she would clean the ring herself. She had little confidence that I could operate a pumice stone without scratching the porcelain.

Remember that story about Tom Sawyer painting a fence? I didn’t argue with her. I let her scrub the damned toilet herself.

And now the ring is gone. I knew vinegar would eventually do the trick.

Failsafe Felony



Melvin is a savvy burglar. He watches plenty of TV. So when he stepped onto the porch of Mrs. Wifty’s home, he instantly recognized the Ding doorbell. He knew it like instinct, from all the TV ads that had been saturating his subconscious.

“Ding!” he rang the doorbell.

“Hello? How may I help you?” a lady’s voice crackled on the dinky speaker.

Wait a second, wasn’t that an engine revving in the background? “Hi, I’m going around trimming trees. Wanna free estimate?” Melvin inquired.

“No, I’m sorry. I’m bathing my children right now.” the slightly desperate-sounding voice came back. A car honked its horn.

“Okay,” said Melvin. He walked around to the backyard, wondering if she was lying, or bathing her children in the middle of a traffic jam.

No, he knew. She was lying. Melvin was no idiot, and neither are you. He got away with a really cool haul from Mrs. Wifty’s house. He even took the Ding doorbell.

Now this tip may be obvious to you, but there’s much more to successful burglary than putting two-and-two together after watching hundreds of TV ads concerning a popular anti-burglary product.

And now we make this exclusive knowledge available to you, for just $20.00. That’s right, for only $20.00 you can enter almost any home in your neighborhood, armed with knowledge culled from the minds of America’s most experienced burglars.

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