"Everything Has a Price." "Not In My Religion."

I spent this weekend helping my best friend out with Archaeology Days at the Delf Norona Museum in Moundsville. It’s something we’ve been doing for several years now, ever since she worked for the museum there. It’s a great time. My old friend is an archaeologist who lives in central West Virginia, so it gives us a chance to get together and catch up, as well as showing people how Native Americans actually did things. Each year, we give people a chance to grind corn, work a pump drill, and make pinch pots. It really is a blast, but this year something happened which stuck in my mind enough for me to want to share it with you folks and see what you thought.

Late Saturday, a church group came through. They’d been touring the former Federal Penitentiary across the street and had come in to see what we were up to. They were quite pleasant and not obnoxiously Christian; indeed, the only references were a cross around one girl’s neck, the sweatshirt with “Jesus” written on it that another girl was wearing, and a mention in passing of who they were. I don’t even know what denomination they were and I might wear a cross or a Christian t-shirt on a similar trip. I was showing them how to work a pump drill, which, to my mind, is a marvelous piece of engineering which was used by Native Americans. It’s a neat piece of engineering, and my friend has four handmade pump drills with flint tips which we use for these demonstrations. After I’d demonstrated them and got people to try working them, a man who was with the group asked if they were for sale. I told him they weren’t, but did tell him how to make one. He asked if he could buy one of the ones we’d brought, and again, I told him they weren’t and that we brought them for demonstrations. He continued to try to get me to sell me one, and I continued to politely refuse. Finally, he said to me, “Everything has a price.”

I looked him straight in the eye, and told him, “Not in my religion.” Around then, my friend returned from some other business she’d been taking care of. I mentioned his interest in buying a pump drill and she, too, told him they weren’t for sale. At that point, he gave up.

I’m a devout, liberal Christian, which will come as no suprise to most of you. I’m also rather sensitive to the image Christians present when we’re identifying ourselves as such in public. Forget my pagan friends; I get a little leery of being told I’m on the wrong path because of my liberality because it’s happened on-line and in real life. I know that being a Christian does not automatically mean one is a good person and that just because one is with a church group doesn’t necessarily mean one is actually a Christian. My agnostic father still came to church picnics and other church activities. Still, I was taken aback by what to me is such an un-Christian statement coming from a man who was with a group of self-identified Christians. He was told the pump drills were not for sale and why. To try to persuade me to sell him one of them anyway, to me, is to ask me to do something unethical. The ironic thing is, he probably had no idea I was a volunteer who drives a couple of hours each way to do this and is out of pocket not only for the gas money, but also for half of a hotel room and meals for this. The time I spend with an old friend and showing people something knew is well worth the money spent.

So, Dopers, what would you have done in this situation? Also, if he had asked what religion I follow, I would have been tempted to use the term a Wiccan friend uses to refer to me: “Episco-Pagan”. What would you have said, and what do you make of this?

CJ

He was the ass, not you. You told him the drills weren’t for sale, and you gave him directions to make one for himself. Obviously, he wasn’t interested.

That said, I think he was an ass regardless of his religion. If I had to make a guess, I’d say he’s a businessman or salesman who has simply learned to be persistent. Many such people thrive on that attitude; for them, it’s not the object or the money, but the game of seeing if he can get what he wants on his terms.

Don’t chalk it up to religion and don’t take it personally. He probably would’ve behaved the same way if he were Christian, Jewish, Muslim or animist.

Robin

Yeah, he was an ass, but I suspect the problem is not that everything does or does not have a price, but rather, whether and when ‘no’ actually, really means ‘no’.

I’m not religious. I am an economist - I think we’re supposed to think like that. To “Everything has a price” I’d reply " I’m sorry you feel that way."

There are ways to ask in these situations. Some people are reticent about accepting offers they want to accept for fear of seeming mercenary or otherwise overeager. It is understandable that a person might ask a few times. This guy did poorly and at least as you interpreted it, without respect.

I think Jesus would disagree. He certainly paid the price for your sins. :wink:

When he said “everything” he was speaking in terms of pump drills. Would you have accepted 2.5 million dollars for one? 250 million dollars?

Reminds me of that anecdote, often attributed to <insert famous person from the past here>:

Man, talking to woman (often in a bar): “Madam, if I were to pay you 1 million pounds, would you consider sleeping with me?”
Woman (blushing): “Well, sir, unusual as your question is, I would consider it.”
Man: “So, would you sleep with me for a tenner?”
Woman (enraged): “Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?”
Man: “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

:smiley:

He was an ass. And he’s a Christian. Not necessarily cause and effect, just two distinct aspects of him.

Muffin makes a good point though. What would you take for one slightly used pump drill?

I just don’t get the “not in my religion” part of your statement. You’re inferring that it’s because of his religion that he’s being a PITA. I’d say that’s a bit judgemental, unless others in the group were acting similar, and even then… well I just don’t see it. “Not for me” or something similar would have eliminated the broad brush stroke from it.

I don’t understand what trying to coax you to sell something has to do with in the least with Christianity, or religion in general. Is there commandment against it? Did Jesus say something against haggling?

Sounds to me like he was just being annoyingly persistant, and it has nothing to do with his religion in any way.

shrug Some people are jerks. I wouldn’t conflate that with his religion; his comment was about drills, not redemption for sin. Jerks come in all flavors. (As C. S. Lewis commented, maybe he knows he’s a jerk, and knows he needs help, and so goes to church to work on that.)

Could have something to do with money. The man’s apparent insistence that money can solve any problem (“there’s a price for everything”) is somewhat contrary to the Christian’s message that money is a mean to serve, not as a mean to power.

Well, the notion that “everything has a price”—that money is ultimately the measure of all things—isn’t exactly compatible with Christianity as I understand it. (So, on preview, I agree with ExtraKun.

And the man, by insisting that “everything has a price,” was implying that there wasn’t anything Siege would not do if offered enough money. I can see how Siege would have found this insulting, and/or have been disturbed by the implication that the man himself, a self-identified Christian, would have presumably been willing to do anything for the right price.

“You cannot serve both God and Mammon.”

Your comment was obnoxious. Possibly more so than the person’s behavior. I have no idea why you brought religion into it.

I disagree that trying to persuade you to sell a pump drill was unethical. It’s not as though it’s an original artifact. Except for the flint tip, it’s a tool that could be assembled in 15 minutes. So it’s quite possible that your friend could have earned a few needed dollars by selling one. It might not even be a bad idea to make a few extras for future opportunities such as these.

What I would have done would be either to quote a ridiculously high price, or just go off and ask the person who made them what the price was (and let that person quote a ridiculously high price).

Actually, I was more amused than bothered by him, once I got over my surprise.

As my brother mentioned when I was telling him about this last night, everything may well indeed have a price if you’re including things other than money. After all, if he’d said “Give me the pump drill or your friend dies”, a slightly-used pump drill is worth less than my friend’s life.

On the other hand, this guy was clearly talking about money and, unfortunately for him, there’s no price, even a ludicrous one, I’d sell one to him for. You see, the pump drills belonged to my friend, not me. Now, if he’d offered a million dollars or even a hundred, I would probably have called her over and said quietly, “You’re not going to believe what this guy’s offering!”, but the decision to sell or not to sell would be hers, not mine.

Ms. Robyn’s probably got it right. He was probably just a guy who was used to people being influenced by money. As I said, I get a little nervous around prominent Christians, in part because I wonder how they’d react if they knew some of my closest friends aren’t Christians. I was also a little annoyed with his persistence and a bit tired. Several gentler turndowns hadn’t worked, so I went with the best I could come up with on the spot. Other people would come up with something different.

My particular form of Christianity tells me money isn’t important except as a tool. While I don’t have my usual link to Bible Gateway handy, I do remember something about “the love of money is the root of all evil” and some comments from Jesus about not worrying about money too much. Then again, I know some forms of Christianity do place a certain amount of emphasis on material prosperity.

:Shrug: I thought you folks might be amused and interested. It was one odd moment in a weekend full of very good times.

CJ

I’m confused by his insistence. I’ve seen similar behavior at antiques stores. But, a new pump drill, after you’ve told him how to make his own? Yes, his won’t be as good, but still. It sounds like the plot of a sitcom. Did you check the pump drill to be sure it didn’t contain stolen gems, microflm, or a revolutionary form of computerchip?

If you wanted to draw religion into the issue (I understand why you would. He was with a church group and should have conducted himself according to his church’s definition of 'a good Christian), you should have said “Thirty pieces of silver. You want me to betray a friend, that’s how much it costs.”

RE Episco-pagan

Get over it. Many people feel inferior, or that they’ve strayed from the true path, when they encounter others who they feel are more observant, or who they feel to be nearer my God than me.

You need to ask God what He thinks on the matter. If He doesn’t have a problem with the way you practice your faith, the judgement of other people is irrelevant, and your own guilt is an unnecessary obstacle between you and Him.