Tithing is a very big thing in American churches and I was scarcely aware of the word prior to my arrival in this fair country lo these many years. I think the English church goer gives of the change that might be rattling around in his pocket; in America whole sermons are devoted to expositions of how to calculate a tenth (10 %). It's on the gross, before tax, inclusive of everything. Tithing enables the poor overworked pastors to have a little security in their retirement, witness the Rev. Jeremiah (biblical) Wright shuffling off to his $1 million golf course "parsonage" courtesy of the Trinity faithful; or the fella over at Harvest Bible Chapel moving, with much less publicity, into a $4 million shack.
I was just reading about the Obamas' publication of their 2007 income, which enjoyed a healthy bump over 2006. A whopping $3.9 million net on book sales, which just goes to prove that the world is full of dopes. We are always being urged to read; the public responds by spending masses of money on completely worthless books enriching a few frauds, vagabonds and swindlers (The Secret). Read a good book, like a novel or something. Come to think of it, perhaps that's what Audacity of Hope is.
Anyway, I noticed that, among the charitable donations, the Obamas yielded $26,270 to Trinity, which is almost exactly 10 % of their combined $260,735 salaries. Giving at the tithing level. The Rev. Wright should be thrilled you think to receive $26 K from one member. But wait, God says 10 % of the total: books aren't excluded; so I reckon the Obamas are in the hole to the tune of about $390 K. They could just about pay for the modest little retirement parsonage by themselves.
In fact it is the practice in many churches to make the 10 % rule the entry level minimum stake and encourage giving above and beyond for long-term senior members. So I could see a rounding up to about half a million would be in order here.
I noticed that Michelle has gone part-time at UofC Medical Center, her income plummeting to about $100 K. That is a cool part-time job - a job that is suitably vaguely defined and illusive of purpose. I would like that kind of part-time gig to fill in the idle hours between classes. Those gigs are hard to find, although one or two of my COD colleagues seem to have managed it.