(easily offended catholics - or others not interested in slightly religious flavored rants)  
My wife is Catholic. I'm not. I accepted this at our wedding, and have accepted it since. It's complicated. I'm not a deeply religious person, but I want my kids to have some moral footing. I agree that perhaps the Catholic Church is not the best footing, but it is a structured footing, and it is one that we have contributed to over the years. The alternative is a return to my own Protestant upbringing, which is nearly identical to the Catholic church except for that guy with the funny hat.  
Anyway, some of you may have noticed this economic thing that's been going on for the past year or so. Some call it the R-word. Or, please no, the D-word. Either way, it sucks for a lot of people. My immediate family included.  
So, I went to get the mail yesterday. I see a letter addressed to me. Not paying attention to the return address, I open it. Start reading the letter. I note then that is from the wife's church. I should have stopped reading. But I didn't. Bad decision.  
The opening sentence. "I write to you regarding parish finances". From my wife's parish priest. We're being chided for not keeping up with whatever commitment was made at the beginning of the year. Which is a lifetime ago in so many ways.  
My rage was profound. Thankfully, my kids and some of their friends were in the kitchen as I read this, or I would have exploded.  
The nerve. The freaking nerve. Rather than try to understand our personal situation, we are sent what appears to be a form letter. Beseeching us to "pray and reflect on your level of commitment to the Church", specifically, "how you support her in areas of treasure (what financial commitment do you make to the parish)."  
Hello???? Treasure???? Aren't you a CHURCH? Isn't your goal something nobler than TREASURE????  
W. T. F.??????????????????one????????????????????  
I had gotten over my rage by sometime after my second cup of coffee today. And then I came upon this story about local churches and how they are reacting to the R-word. How they are confronting the issue. Exerting efforts. Trying to -- get this -- actually HELP PEOPLE --- who REALLY NEED IT.  
Isn't THAT what Christian organizations are supposed to be all about??? I'm not a big bible thumper, but I'm pretty sure the message in the The Dummies Guide to Being Holy is more about Dad, JC and the holy spook helping people than it is about gathering treasure.  
I am at loss as to how to react in a meaningful way. Don't get me wrong -- I'm totally at a gain for how to react in many non-meaningful ways - like perhaps going to church on Sunday, and sticking a copy of the letter, a copy of that article, and a COPY of a check for $20 in one of those little pre-printed customized pledge envelopes they mail us every few weeks. (Aside -- Hmmmmmm, are there any ways they might be able to cut some recurring costs over there at the church....)  
I have had my issues with religion over the years, and admittedly with this church and priest in particular, but this one has put me over the edge.  
[EDIT - anyone wanting to get a group discount on the bus trip to hell is free to email me at bozino at faithless.org]  
True story...
Hugh2d2: My sister was diagnosed with lupus (No House M.D. jokes, please.) shortly after the birth of her son. She was told that if she became pregnant again it could be fatal to her and the baby.  
Due to some complications with the form of lupus they elected not to do a tubal ligation, so her and her husband used oral contraceptives.  
Long story short, some of the drugs she took for the lupus counteracted the birth control drugs and she became pregnant. To make it worse, she was 4 1/2 months along before they even knew. (Again, the lupus drugs can mess with the plumbing...)  
I was raised catholic. Catholic school from 1st through 8th grade. I was devout. Alter boy and everything. I even considered becoming a priest when I was young. My grandmother was more catholic than the pope. She used to take me to church every weekday through the summer and I would serve 8:00 mass then go to the cafe with her "blue-haired lady coalition" and the priest for coffee and pancakes. Then serve most sundays as well. So I was pretty freakin catholic. The church and I split up when I was in high school. Just some irreconcilable differences I won't go into here.  
Back to my sister...  
She's in the hospital about to give birth. No clue what the drugs she was on had done to the baby... no idea if she would walk out of the hospital or be carried out... I'm with my family in the waiting room and tears are flowing freely.  
I need a break so I walk out (to sneak a smoke, honestly) and around the corner from the hospital was the catholic cathedral. (It was the main church the bishop of the diocese ran) I decide maybe I need to ask for some help.  
I tried the front door... locked. Tried the side door... locked. Tried the back door... again, locked. So I'm walking back and a priest opens the door a crack, leans out and rudely chastises me for trying to "break in." I tell him my tale of woe and say I just wanted to light a candle and say a prayer. He looks me up and down and says, "Do you have a dollar?"  
I'm a little taken aback, "A dollar? Yeah..."  
"It costs a dollar to light a candle," he says with his hand outstretched from the barely opened door.  
I sigh, hand him a buck and he opens the door. I stopped half way in and said, "Ya know what... forget it."  
That was the last time I went into a catholic church.  
Footnote: My sister and niece came out fine. She turns 10 next month.
LowFlyingMule: My wife contributes a regular amount to our church. I told her I was OK with that, but for her to never let me know how much it is...better for everybody that way.  
Imagine no religion...
I unlessthanthree tithing.
crataegus: My parents committed to tithing to the Trenton Episcopal Diocese when I was a youngin. Then my father got laid off for an extended period. We started getting letters like the one you received. My mother was ashamed and wouldn't go to church. The pisser was that my father was building stuff on the fellowship hall for the church at the time. I feel your pain.