Too long to condense for "Span the Globe"...from Amy Welborn, a review of “In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism.“:
The questions about stewardship bounced all over the place and reemerged in different forms every generation. Should stewardship be understood as primarily being about money or about a Christian’s whole life? Were fundraising efforts that depended on entertaining the giver or from which the giver derived some benefit legitimate, or were they manipulative and ultimately spiritually destructive?
And at every stage, church people are constantly, unfailingly frustrated at low levels of giving. As Americans became more prosperous, Protestant ministers fell in both status and income level, and church leaders could not help but notice that as Americans bought more and more stuff, they never seemed to manage to give any more to church.
I do think, if there’s anyone out there involved in stewardship, in any Christian denomination, it’s worth it to take a look at this book. So often, we tend to look at the past through those blasted rose-colored glasses, thinking that in the past, Christians were so generous, while today, they’re so cheap. We also tend to look at the models we have for these things - what a church is and how its members should financially support it - as something that just is. Examining and thinking about how and why these models developed, and realizing that the conversations we’re having now and the concerns and frustrations are not at all new, it seems to me, is very important. Especially for Catholics who not only suffer from historical blindness, but from deep Protestant envy when it comes to giving and stewardship.