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Theological Thursdays: Money, Belief and the Bookstore

Everybody’s talking about money this week.  Federally, we need to borrow more of it, on a local level, Chris Collins is proud to have some left over.  How much money you have says a lot about what you believe, but not nearly as much as what you do with it.

That’s why I am so encouraged by West Side Stories.  What encourages me the most is the audacity of its business plan.  At a time when a large chain of bookstores is going under, and e-readers threaten to do to publishing what mp3s did to record stores, Jeannene and Mark choose not only to open a bookstore, but to open one in a neighborhood with below-average literacy.  
These people are friends of mine, so I know that they aren’t dumb.  If they were simply seeking profit, they could have found easier ways to spend their money.

One way of thinking about money is as a representation of our efforts and time.  Often, we try to pile it up as security, or spend it on entertainment.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but more and more people are realizing that we can designate it to improve the neighborhood that we live in, or give West Side kids the same chance to grow up reading and owning books that many of us were blessed to have.

Of course, the owners (and book donors) of this shop aren’t the only folks that are risking their time and money so that the chance of making a difference is much greater than the chance of making a profit, they are only the latest.  But they serve as reminder to us that what we do with our cash says more about what we believe than any creed that might recite.  Believing in Buffalo means putting our money in Buffalo.  And I’m glad to see more and more people believe.

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