February 6th, 2015 by Christopher Caudle
It means “buy one, get one.” I know that.
But that doesn’t seem to be newsworthy. Most (all?) economic transactions don’t let you “get one” until you “buy one.”
I’m told by people who care for me in spite of my questions that the word free is implied and understood.
By most (all?) people. BOGO actually means BOGO (Free).
Free is implied. I understand that about the second jar of spaghetti sauce or the second month’s cable service. When free goes on to describe other things, we can get different ideas.
To receive something free, from a stranger, sometimes creates anxiety. Maybe they are giving me something of no value or something with strings attached. Maybe they are well-meaning, or well-versed in the laws of advertising.
In our culture, we have tried to remove much of this gift and giver ambiguity by turning as many interactions as possible into transactions. And transactions are valued in numeric terms. If something is free, its value is implied to be small. Newspapers don’t write articles, after all, about the art auction that sold a painting for $7.99.
Price, payment, receipt. BOGO.
Mainly we’re set up to buy and sell, not to give and receive. We tend to give nothing free of charge and receive nothing free of charge. “The person who volunteers time, who helps a stranger, who agrees to work for a modest wage out of a commitment to the public good, who desists from littering even when no one is looking…begins to feel like a sucker,” wrote Robert Kuttner in Everything for Sale. To give is to lose.
This week’s scriptures raise the question of why the gospel we share with the world is free. Does that affect how we share it? How others hear it? How we value it? Isaiah, Paul and Jesus think the answer is yes.
What is the oddest thing (apart from birthday or Christmas gifts) you’ve ever been given for free? Send me a note and we will share some of them on Sunday at firstname.lastname@example.org
grace and certain hope,