What The Notre-Dame Fire Taught Us

We were all touched in some way watching the holy cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in flames. Early news reports were catastrophic. “The entire cathedral has burned to the ground. Everything is gone!” The world was stunned. Not just the French, not just the Catholics. Everyone.

When the smoke cleared, the world also collectively breathed a sigh of relief. A news reporter said that in our lifetime, we may still have the chance to visit Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

We had seen on the media what appeared to be flames tearing through the roof as if coming from the interior of the church. The source of the flames was, in fact, from the timber and lead roof installed in the 13th century. The interior of the church, for the most part, was not involved.

The most dramatic moment captured on film had to be the collapsing spire. For Americans, it was an emotional scene recalling painful memories of our own Twin Towers. The spire was not the original spire. That the spire had been previously destroyed by weather in the 1700s and rebuilt in the mid-1800s as a larger more ornate version of the original made it no less sad. 

We rejoiced when we learned that most of the cathedral and its statues and architecture and windows were still intact and, because of the outpouring of generosity from around the world, it will be rebuilt to its original splendor, if not better. 

Like 9/11, the Notre Dame fire shook many to their core. How could God allow this to happen? How are we to react?

We have witnessed a worldwide outpouring of compassion. God and His Church were headline news during Holy Week. We became family with the French people and with those of all faiths who lamented Paris’s loss, for whatever reason. For that one day, we were touched and united by tragedy.

In Louisiana, there was a $1.3 million surge in donations to rebuild the three historically black churches burned down by arsonists. Comfort, hope, life. 

“For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.” Isaiah 49:13

The Apple Falls Not Far From the Morality Tree

Almost a year ago, Gallup conducted a survey on the moral value of Americans. More than three in four Americans reported morals in the U.S. as getting worse. Surprisingly, there was little difference in the opinions of Democrats and Republicans — both were equally negative.

Moral values having anything to do with politics is alarming. Moral values are knowing the difference between right and wrong and having a willingness to do the right thing, even if it is hard or dangerous.  Americans entered WWII because they believed that it was  ethically the right thing to do, even though it was dangerous for the individuals who served and for the country as a whole. Americans valued democracy and freedom and were willing to fight for it.

The Ten Commandments define for believers what is right or wrong. Values are defined as those things that are important to an individual or group. Core values may include integrity, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship when applied to an organization’s vision. The aforementioned core values are part and parcel of the Stewardship Foundation, and form the basis for our ethics.

When we perform ethically, we behave in a manner that is consistent with what we believe to be right or moral. We specifically apply these ethics to our own core belief that financial riches are to be shared, and that faithfulness to God commands that we be good stewards of the riches that we share.

Our Credo is on our website, but those who visit our blog more frequently than our website, they bear repeating:

  • We believe in transformational giving.
  • We believe that giving is a collaborative act between the donor, the charity, and their God
  • We believe that transformational giving is not about the bottom line, but about the heart.
  • We believe that transformational giving creates partnerships that impact entire communities.
  • We believe in the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
  • We believe that it is our responsibility to care for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged, and to use our talents for the betterment of mankind through education, opportunity and freedom.

We also believe that those who seek to invest their money through an organization like ours do so because of shared moral values, and whether our clients are Democrats or Republicans, both do so because of equally positive motives. We have choices where and how we invest. What’s more important—social and moral responsibility, or profitability? We believe that both are equally important and that’s why we work hard everyday to manage funds that do both.

Giving To Be Fully Alive

Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader known for his famous quote, “Follow the grain in your own wood.” When just a boy, Howard’s parents dropped him off at the Florida East Coast Depot in Daytona, Florida, so he could attend high school in a less segregated school in Jacksonville. They paid for his ticket, but forgot to pay for his luggage. He sat in the depot in tears when a stranger approached, listened to his story, and paid his luggage bill for him. In his autobiography, Howard Thurman dedicated his book to the stranger who “restored my broken dream.”

Thurman’s contribution to civil rights was never as loud as Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead, he developed a philosophy of social change by changing one’s individual, internal spirit. His story illustrates the goodness of giving. 

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Giving to charity makes us feel alive. Even though a gift to a qualified charity may entitle us to a deduction against income taxes, taking the deduction is smart investing. Tax laws provide the opportunity to make the world a better place. When we think of others, we forget about ourselves. When we give to others, we come more fully alive.