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Doing Good With Christmas Shopping

Six, high-end catalogues arrived at our home on a single day. A few more arrived over the next few days. More are expected.

On the men’s side, one catalogue had a cashmere sweater for $300, a suede jacket for $1,065, a corduroy shirt for $175 and boxers for $48. Another men’s catalogue had a holiday shirt for $248. Clearly, these catalogues aren’t meant for me.

A National Geographic travel catalogue offered trips by ship and even private jet that sounded spectacular, but clearly outside even our most far-fetched fantasy budget.

The flood of catalogues appears to be tied to the upcoming frenzy of Christmas shopping. And we, Americans, including Christians, will spend a fortune at Christmas.

E-commerce spending is projected for 2015 at $334 billion. And online purchases are only one-sixth of in-store spending.

E-commerce holiday spending in 2014 was $101.9 billion, compared to $616.1 billion for in-store spending.

What if EthicsDaily.com readers and their churches decided to redirect some of their e-commerce dollars to doing good at Christmas? We could give exotic gifts and advance the common good at the same time.

Here are three suggestions for where you can reallocate some of your Christmas spending to do good in the world.

For a number of years, every year, Betsy and I would order chocolate products from Koinonia Farm as Christmas gifts for friends. Our friends received a rare and delicious gift. We helped support the mission of Koinonia, the legacy of the New Testament scholar and social justice advocate Clarence Jordan.

Visit the Koinonia Farm shopping page. See the array of gift ideas.

Consider ordering books there. Every church media center, every pastor’s library, ought to have a complete set of Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament books. I’ve rarely taught a Sunday school lesson or preached a sermon when I didn’t consult his readable work.

For the first time, we will look at the Christmas catalogue and online gift shop from Bethlehem Bible College, a school located in the same city where Jesus was born.

The online gift shop has Christmas tree ornaments, nativity sets, items made from olive wood.

Books are available by Palestinian Christians. My friend and a friend of the Baptist World Alliance – Yohanna Katanacho – has one I’m putting on my Christmas list, “The Land of Christ: A Palestinian Cry.”

Download the Bethlehem Bible College 2015 Christmas Catalogue here.

Don’t forget to look at the Heifer International online catalogue. For $20, you can purchase a flock of geese in the name of a friend. One goat is $120. These kinds of gifts and others are economically and nutritionally transformative for the poor in the developing world.

For $275, you can send a girl to school. Empowering women is a proven way to end poverty and advance the common good.

Let me be clear. I’ve proposed some options for supporting organizations that advance the common good with our Christmas spending. This proposal is not a replacement for giving to your church and mission organizations.

Support Christian organizations with charitable gifts. Support Christian organizations with Christmas spending.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.