As an Anglo-Saxon it is my beholden duty to not only believe that the English are better at absolutely everything than everyone else but also to proclaim this claim throughout the world. However, I have to admit that, although our superiority is overwhelming it is not completely true. There are a few things that foreigners do, not only better than us, but actually considerably better than us.

Although I will probably be exiled to the Lowlands of Europe for admitting this in public, I have discovered during the past four years that even the Americans surpass on two particular things. Firstly, they are a lot more willing to give financial support (as individuals, not as a nation) to people in need, especially those in their own locality. Secondly, and I find this even more worthy, they are far more willing than the English to accept financial help when they need it.

In England people, specifically in this case, church people, are very suspicious if someone in their circle of concern asks for financial help. They are also petrified of an act of charity being seen as a precedent. To be fair the latter is probably due to their fear of having to say yes to some people and no to others.However, in the US, although not naive about requests for help, they do seem to have generally acquired the skill of discernment. And those in the States who are on the receiving end of the largesse of others are so much better than the English at receiving. In England we are really crap at accepting charity. We feel incredibly guilty and resentful of the fact that we have had to ask for it. This results in us being clumsy and downright ungracious when it comes to saying thank you.

Both of these "charisms", giving and receiving, have been demonstrated here at OCICBW... recently. One of our gang was faced with the prospect of losing his beloved cat through illness, simply because he couldn't afford the not that expensive vet's bill. You people checked the veracity of our friend's situation and then leapt to his assistance with gifts of money. Although most of these donations, including mine, were quite small, because of the number of people who put their hands in their pockets, little Katzie has now been fully mended and will return to the human she loves and who loves her. Our friend's moment of need only came to our attention about a week ago and yet our friend is now turning down offers of help because he  has enough money to pay for the surgery which was all he wanted. Well done you. And well done to the recipient of your generosity. I have learned an incredible amount about how to receive graciously from his example. I have come to realise that the ability to receive is as great, if not more great, a gift than the ability to give. Because in receiving you give something of far greater value to the giver than what you receive from them. Of course, this is only what Jesus told us. But I can be just as dense about even the most obvious words of the gospel as most other Christians. Thank you, Mark, for making me a little less dense.



  1. What condescension!
    “EVEN the Americans”.
    Would you say that about any other group? Do YOU get to determine who gets scolded and who doesn’t?
    No wonder the Indians danced in the streets when you left!

  2. Tee hee. Anonymous is so lacking in irony and the ability to process complicated thought processes that I have l to conclude that he or she (I bet it’s a he) is from the United States 🙂

  3. lol

    I am so pleased you find some redeeming aspect in American character. Some-days, as an American, I am not so sure.


  4. Some days, as a United Statesonian in the Americas, I am not sure if we have many redeeming aspects as a nation, so it’s nice to have someone find one that is so satisfying, especially as a Christian – giving and receiving. Not bad.

  5. [re Anonymous (first poster): doncha think that’s Sad Brad? (See the “Powerful, Intelligent Woman…” thread, below)]

    Well done, all around! (Scritches for Katzie).

  6. I’m 100% with MP on this one!
    Receiving gracefully and being able to ask for help is a real grace and not one we’re terribly good at in Europe.
    Giving without a sense of being owed something in return is equally something we’re not very good at on the whole.

    I wonder whether the difference is partly because of our supposedly overflowing social security system that allows everyone to think that the others are the responsibility of the State?
    When you’ve nationalised care you can stop caring.

  7. Erika, Ivan Illich wrote similarlily about the NHS in the 70’s. It can be applied in many contexts, I have used it in relation to education and the creation of the professionally religious, i.e. clergy.

    Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis – The Expropriation of Health
    Disabling Professions

  8. Hi, Anonymous.

    It’s sad that you apparently are unable to tell when MadPriest is actually making fun of himself.

    This is, in point of fact, a very gracious post communicating both genuine gratitude and humility.

    Maybe you only read the headline?

  9. Seems that someone needs to remind anon about this concept we sometimes call “a joke.”

    Jeez Louise.

  10. Anonymous,

    I’m a very touchy American, and even I didn’t knee-jerk over this one! Come on. Is that a smile? Yes it is! Here it comes! Ticky-ticky!!

    MP, and everybody,

    You’ve touched more folks than you know. Dr. Carie was amazed, and a bit teary-eyed at the way you came together. My sister-in-law had a bit of a dazed smile on her face two days later. Our priest was left feeling truly uplifted (and there are several here who now how disheartening the vocation can be).