I'm either doing much less or much more than I planned.
Instead of $100, I'll be spending (approximately) $847.63 on my new "project": My wife Andrea and are expecting a baby, our first child, in June! (The 847.63 figure was at one point the supposed average cost per month of raising a child, and so that's what flashes on the cash register in the Simpsons introduction when Maggie is accidentally scanned; see www.snpp.com/other/papers/gs.paper.html). Call that a cop-out (am I "burying" my $100?), but soon I'll be too sleepy to argue with you.
I was tempted to symbolically put some money toward a writing- or reading-related investment for my child: maybe a complete set of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, or John Calvin's Institutes, or at least the Berenstein Bears. But I think I've already learned something from this pregnancy (or maybe I've just learned it from Debra's marvelous book, Great With Child, which has taught me much recently): writing, as a vocation, is secondary to living life itself.
For a while now, I've thought of myself as a writer first and everything else second. (Not necessarily in time and priorities, but in my identity--how I see myself.) I need to do something I've never dreamed of for the last 10 years -- be something else first, and a writer second. Of course, you can never shed the latter, and of course I'll keep writing, and of course if I don't write something about the child (especially about language) I'll feel incomplete. But this child needs me first as a father and only second as a writer; it needs me to approach its crib not with a project, but with the provision of its most basic human needs. My Plan B 'project,' accordingly, reflects a slight reshuffling of my ambitions.
However, I would really like for someone to steal my original idea: take a homeless person to a five-star restaurant. And then write a reflection on FEASTING. What does this feast mean to this person? How *impractical* is it to spend $100 this way, instead of donating it to a soup kitchen? What virtue or vice is there in our notions of what's *practical* in this case (teach someone to fish...) ? What does the Wedding at Cana tell us about Christ's lordship over feasting? (see this sermon MP3) (One person I mentioned this idea to asked if it was nutritionally OK for a homeless person to eat such rich food--I don't know!). Insert references to "beggar's feast," "Babette's Feast," and (careful of any messianic overtones) the extravagant perfume being 'wasted' on Jesus' feet. I really wanted to do this, but right ! now the only food cravings I'm attending to are my wife's. So I'd love to see someone pick it up and run with it.
I'm also delighted to see how Al Hsu's blog is spreading the $100 idea!
And finally, I can't even begin to say how humbled I am by Nick's post and project, and how determined I am to get to Toronto before the baby is born.
It was good to see a few of you at Symposium, and the rest of you remain in my thoughts and prayers.