Pricing Out the Poor

Before I get into the meat of this, I want to make a few things abundantly clear. First, I understand that conferences and the like take money to coordinate and put on. I get it. This is the reality of the world that we live in. I also understand that such conferences are not really aimed at people like me, and that is ok as well. I am not arguing that they should be really. For those who attend such conferences, you should continue to do so. I believe them to be educational and uplifting. I write this not as a criticism so much as simply trying to make anyone who reads this aware of the true cost. The price of religion in dollars, in everything from seminary to Bible Study materials, is rising and to the detriment of the faith I think. I do not have a solution to this, but I also know that I hope someone does. All I am trying to do here is to demonstrate the real cost of one conference to illustrate the problem, not to make a critique of anything in specific, but rather to speak to a larger problem in general.
In Dayton, next year, there will be a conference called Spirit and Truth. You should go if you are able. The speaker list is great, and it promises to be an amazing time of fellowship and learning. I want to make perfectly clear that is going to be a great thing in my estimation. I went through and calculated the cost, at the cheapest I could make it, including the gas from my location to there, and came up with the number of $250. This includes the gas (an estimate) from Columbus to Dayton, the hotel, a modest allowance of $5 for  lunch and $8 for dinner, and staying at a no frills hotel that serves a continental breakfast. That really is not that much all in all. This price is for me alone. That is really not a terribly high cost all in all. Here is what that cost looks like to my family however.
The items listed are today’s prices at Walmart. I could do more shopping sales, but this should do to demonstrate. The total of this shopping list is $250.18 delivered curbside and packed into the trunk.
122 ounces coffee
4.6 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
50 ounces frozen ravioli
2 pounds spaghetti
48 ounces plain tomato sauce
43.5 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
48 ounces tomato paste
4.5 pounds cabbage
26 ounces instant mashed
2 pounds carrots
2.25 pounds bacon
5.25 pounds smoked sausage
20 ounces tomatoes with green chilies
32 ounces shredded cheddar
8 ounces cream cheese
16 ounces pasta shells
42 ounces cream of chicken soup
2 packets brown gravy mix
10 pound ham
45 ounces bread crumbs
32 ounces sliced cheddar
32 ounces shaved honey ham
8 ounces chicken base
96 ounces vegetable oil
32 ounces brown and serve sausage
16 ounces white rice
4 pounds ground Italian sausage
5 dozen eggs
96 ounces various frozen vegetables
60 ounces bread
15 pounds russet potatoes
3 gallons milk
9 pounds ground beef
21.6 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
2 pounds butter
5 pounds flour
This list contains things that could normally be found in our shopping. I did not include the various seasonings as we generally have them on hand. If I were to buy this right now, it would feed us, and feed us well, for quite some time. Where others see $250 dollars for a conference, I see the above list, or something similar. Mind you, if this were done the way I normally shop, it would be more as I would shop sales and purchase some things in bulk through GFS to save even more.  With just a titch of stretching, we could eat well for a month on this list…with some to spare. That is my family of three of course.
Again, to be clear, I know conferences and such cost money. I understand that. I know materials cost money. I know all of this. I guess what I am asking is when you figure out the price of a thing, you do not look at it in dollars, you look at it in something very practical, like food. How much food will this conference cost a person. How much food will this study cost a person. Maybe it puts things into perspective. Maybe I am crazy and am the only one who thinks like this lol.
This is not a plea for people to sponsor me to go to a conference. I do not want that. This is not an attempt at trying to make anyone feel guilty. I do not want that. This is not a lament of being poor, I am ok with that. I am not trying to say anything negative here at all, but rather to show a different way to look at the cost of religion. What this is, hopefully, is a way to try and show what the cost of religion can look like from a very practical point of view.  One might even call it practical theology, and that should be popular with us Wesleyan types.

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3 Replies to “Pricing Out the Poor”

  1. I have no problems with the UMC or the Catholic church both are the first to feed the poor, send help to disaster areas and work for social justice, I do wonder about all the people that want to sell churches programs that will do anything and everything. They remind me of the second verse to an old Charley Danials tune,

    Preacher man talking on T.V.
    Puttin’ down the rock and roll
    Wants me to send a donation
    ‘Cause he’s worried about my soul
    He said Jesus walked on the water
    And I know that it’s true
    But sometimes I think that preacher man
    Would like to do a little walking too

    It seems sometime the doctors of theology are selling more indulgences than any church ever did, I know, I know it’s just a business, big business

    Blessings, Keith.

  2. My cost would be higher since I don’t drive, so flying it is. $250 covers my medicines for one month with a little to spare. Over 1/3 of our Social Security and my small pension disappear into the cost of our Medicare supplemental and other medical expenses. I haven’t even been able to put together the $100 for WCA membership. So yeah, religion is expensive.

  3. I became interested a few years ago in studying patristic literature. When I saw how difficult to find the works for reasonable prices I understood why they are studied so meagerly by educated Christians. I found that unless one had access to a good academic library the costs were prohibitive for an interested individual to read good translations.

    I’m very grateful that the Apostles were interested in freely spreading the good news.

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