In Praise Of St. Bingo

by Richard Kovac

Everyone wants to get the brass ring on the merry-go-round; everyone wants to hit pay-dirt in the big lottery - and of course the money would be used for good, even charitable, purposes. But if everyone got what they wanted, and we all became philanthropists, maybe the world would be no better off.

There should also be a cynic, living in an abandoned bathtub, or under a bridge - that would be more remarkable than being a millionaire. (Especially whilst I lived in middle class comfort.)

But I'm holding out for the position that the ideal requires the remarkable. Maybe this hearkens back to seeing the tiny cell of a Sister of Charity at the convent when I brought her a carpet that we had to go to Bamberger's in Newark, New Jersey to get for her.

There is a virtue in simplicity and even voluntary poverty. I stress voluntary poverty, for the involuntary and/or wretched poor are victims. But if it is voluntary, it might be a virtue. Again, the ideal requires the extraordinary. Another example you may identify is Henry David Thoreau, living in the poverty and simplicity of Walden Pond.

We, rather, wager with God to win with our dearly purchased lottery tickets - despite mathematical reality - and quite glibly expect him to suspend the statistical laws of randomness, time, and space, on our behalf alone.

Such is hubris.

But I'm not here a Savonarola ranting against gaming. Then again, lottery tickets are an amusing form of taxation - all's well that ends well.

St. Bingo, pray for us. He must be a very great saint since I see his name on so many churches.

The last wager I present is the irrefutable Pascal's Wager: Since our lives are so miserable and finite anyway, we have absolutely nothing to lose if we wager on the existence of God and eternal life.

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