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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Couple of things to report, and I’m pretty late on the first one. I apologize. More than a month ago, I visited Lifepoint Church for its experiment in "radical generosity." Church leaders gave away $12,000 in various increments, telling church members to go out and give back with the money. They encouraged creativity, but really there were just three basic rules: you couldn’t give back to the church, you had to bless someone and you had to tell your story.

While I was taking pictures, an usher slipped me an envelope. When I tried to give it back to the pastors, they reminded me of rule no. 1. But I’ve been pretty remiss in rule no. 3. Sorry. I received $20 in my envelope. And, really, as both a religion and social services reporter, I could think of hundreds of ways to bless someone with that money. But I thought that choosing one charity over another would be, in a way, showing a bias. So I let Lifepoint choose. They picked the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank as a charity they wanted to partner with as part of their radical generosity. I could just give the food bank the $20. But the church was encouraging creativity. One thing I learned shortly after taking on this job is that food stamps don’t cover toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste. And those costs really add up. So I filled a laundry basket with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, baby wash and lotion and brought it to the food bank, for them to give to the people who get food. It did cost more than $20, but it was a lot of fun. It also encouraged me and my family to look for more opportunities to do that sort of thing.

One thing that was really fun and has helped me think of new family charity projects was reading Lifepoint’s blog about the project:


Also, I found this pretty cool blog on Slate about a year ago, and I meant to finish it, but…


It’s called Blogging the Bible, and it’s really interesting. A Slate editor and self-described secular Jew discovered the Bible and decided to read every word and write about it. David Plotz now has a book out about the experience and recently talked to Relevant magazine about the blog. I especially liked this quote: "And one insight I had was that the great heroes of the Bible to me are not exactly skeptical voices, but voices of moral righteousness that stand up to God and challenge and question God. You have Abraham doing it; you have Gideon [doing] it. Moses does it sometimes, and Job, obviously."

As someone who often (in fact, just this morning) questions God, I liked this reminder that I’m actually in pretty good company.


Finally, there’s a lot out there these days about science and religion–a book just crossed my desk with the intriguing title "How God Changes Your Brain"–and I’d just like to let you know that an area church will delve into some of that crossover this Sunday. The United Church of Christ will discuss "Of God and Darwin" at its service, 10 a.m. in room 211 in the Chamber of Commerce building on Fall Hill Avenue in Fredericksburg. For details, call 540/371-4555.