Double amputee Armitage, or: COMMENT FOR CHRISTCHURCH results, part 2!

Richard Armitage, kneeling with his knees in his shoes, to “practice the walk” for his role as Thorin Oakenshield. My cap, from spoof video shot in support of Rise Up Christchurch / Te Kotahitanga global telethon, May 22, 2011. This was probably my favorite piece of the bit.

There are three pieces to this post: first, details about the donations and how they were accomplished; second, my thanks for the comments and reflections on the experience; and third, a chunk on going forward. If the religious moments of this blog bug you, don’t read the third part. I promise I’ll be back to the sinful ogling of Armitage in just a day or so. Really. Servetus was never a good girl, and she will undoubtedly be compelled to reveal this component of her personality again soon.

I. Logistics of donations:

You might find this a bit more than you wanted to know, but I wanted to make certain that everyone who participated had the chance to see that in my opinion, the terms of the challenge had more than been met.

I’ve counted participation again and verified it at 166 commentators. Per the terms of the challenge, this commentator participation rate was supposed to generate a donation from each sponsor of $116.50 in her own currency. This would have meant a combined donation from the six challengers (me, Frenzy, Frenzy’s anonymous angel #1, Frenzy’s anonymous angel #2, judiang, and soaplady [my anonymous angel]) of 582.50 USD plus 116.50 AUD (one angel is Australian). The website for contributions denominated our donations in NZD. Give or take, depending on the currency converter you use, this commitment amounts to about 889.00 NZD. Because the donations are denominated in NZD and all of the donations were made electronically, the amount of USD or AUD actually charged to the donor’s card may vary slightly. We did not make any attempt to control for this problem and the actual amount of the donation in each donor’s own currency will depend on the conversion rate used by the respective banks. Donors were also responsible on their own for any bank fees generated by the transaction, which were paid on top of the donation. They were asked, depending on their comfort level with doing so, because it was difficult to figure out how to comment anonymously, to include a note in any comment that the donation was made on behalf of fans of Richard Armitage.

Below I note what four of the donors put in.

I couldn’t figure out if I’d be allowed to donate to the telethon after it had ended, and I knew I’d have to be at graduation or would be in bed for the entire period of the telethon. Unable to predict what was going to happen while I was away from the screen, I did an internet conversion of 200 USD to NZD and donated 251 NZD on the telethon page. My blurred receipt is below, as well as a screencap of the comment I left on the site.

Frenzy’s anonymous angel #1 donated 300 NZD — which combined her portion of the challenge and a bit extra for her own personal donation. Her receipt is below.

Judiang also donated 251 NZD. Her receipt is below.

My anonymous angel, soaplady, tried to donate to the telethon, but somehow her donation was redirected straight to Christchurch Earthquake Appeal (the charity for which the telethon was fundraising). She did a conversion herself and donated 250 NZD. Her receipt is below.

These donations totaled 1,052 NZD, which included some donations apart from the challenge. Even so, these four donors alone met the total amount committed from all donors!

That leaves Frenz and her anonymous angel #2. Frenz is going to write about that as she sees fit, possibly not before Tuesday, however, because she’s had a big weekend with everything that’s been going on with her son, and also has a big commitment for tomorrow. If she gets too stressed out, she’ll forward me the outstanding receipts and I’ll finish the description for her in an additional post, but I wanted her to do this herself if possible because her decision showed that the activity could be supported by a broader group than just me, and she was the one who did most of the work to get it publicized elsewhere on the net while I was running around in hood, cap, and gown like a professor with her head cut off. Frenz is always teaching me important things. She put in overtime this week.

Christchurch emergency workers help an earthquake survivor out of a damaged building after the earthquake of February 22, 2011.

II. The experience

Due to my job, I missed the telethon completely. If you were in my situation, Calexora details her impressions here. So the experience for me was completely constituted by blogging and responding to queries.

I normally never ask people to de-lurk. I figure if you want to say something, you will, and if you don’t, you won’t. It’s up to you, and the continuation of my writing this blog is really almost solely dependent on my attempts to deal with the personal issues that inspired it, and thus on the whole relatively independent of readers’ response to it. It’s especially independent of the response of readers who never say anything, as they can’t love or hate anything about it (grin).

So I was really flabbergasted by the number of people who abandoned their anonymity briefly in order to leave a comment as a donation, not least because I tried to emphasize at the time that I didn’t know whether Mr. Armitage endorsed this effort or would participate himself. An additional piece of information that may be helpful in explaining my astonishment was that overall site traffic didn’t increase all that much even after Frenz and others began tweeting about this effort and it was linked somewhere on facebook (I never could figure out where) and C19 and at‘s news page. That suggests to me that many, if not most, of the comments came from people who were following the blog either regularly or at least were aware of it and probably visiting from time to time anyway. I’m particularly pleased that you all decided to comment, and with so many kind words. I didn’t do this to get more traffic, and if you’re a regular reader you know I already have a hard time keeping up with comments, but I am sincerely grateful for every one I got. Knowing that people are reading what I write is a huge compliment. I’ll be catching up with your comments individually this week as I have time.

So why did I do it, if not for more traffic? Without thinking too much. (As is obvious from my constant apologies for having to run off. Should I ever do this again I won’t time it coincide with the most appointment-filled week of the academic year AND the prelude to a cross-country move!) Because I wanted to generate traffic for the rebuilding of Christchurch after an earthquake that really stunned me on a day when I had no time to react to current events anywhere in the world except those in my own classroom. Because although I’ve often urged people to donate to Mr. Armitage’s endorsed charities, I thought that the threshold to donating on an unfamiliar website, in a foreign currency with a possible transaction fee, and potentially involving a minimum amount that was more than some could afford, would prevent people from donating. I wanted the threshold to participation in this venture to be as low as I could possibly make it, in the hopes that this would the first step to something bigger. Well, I guess I got that. I really had no clue.

One of the most intriguing comments I received in response to the challenge came from A: Simply by sailing in a new direction / You could enlarge the world. It’s a line from a classic piece of New Zealand literature. It’s also something that’s been happening ever since I started blogging. My world got a lot bigger. So I don’t know why I am surprised! But I also think that all of this activity made the frightening world just a little smaller, as another poignant comment, from rlv, noted: “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Braces support the tower that houses the aron ha-kodesh in Canterbury Hebrew Congregation‘s synagogue building, Temple Beth-El. It will have to be torn down and rebuilt, stone by stone, but the congregation hasn’t missed a service in the 147 years of its existence.

III. Wrapping it up

[Warning: religious arguments ensue.]

I was stunned by the generosity of the five women who stepped up with me to match my challenge grant. I knew that Armitageworld was on the whole a really supportive place, but even so, I honestly didn’t believe that due to a blog post made on the spur of the moment, that even working together, we could really move that much money. Those women humbled me. But an equally moving piece of this experience for me was learning from messages — and seeing with my own eyes as I watched the telethon website — that people who had commented here, or fellow citizens of Armitageworld whose RL names were known to me, had gone on to donate directly to the goal of rebuilding Christchurch. And I’m sure many of you whose actual names are not known to me donated as well. Calexora details some of this activity here. If the challenge generated interest in this effort, and drew our attention back to Christchurch even for a weekend, that was all of the goal that I had for it, and it was met in spades. Wow. It made me think I could do something simply by speaking up, and I hope it made you feel the same way.

Of course it’s not over yet. I don’t know the total amount raised from the telethon, or how far the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal has gotten toward its fundraising goals, but in situations like this that more money and support are always needed even after the spotlight fades. In that vein, if you haven’t donated but still wish to, or wish to donate further:

  • You can still donate to the telethon HERE.
  • You can also donate directly to Christchurch Earthquake Appeal HERE (and this site allows you to express a preference as to the target of your donation, although ultimately the decision as to how to disburse the funds remains in the hands of the trustees).
  • As always, you can donate to New Zealand Red Cross HERE.
  • And if I may be allowed to beat my own customary drum for a second, Canterbury Hebrew Congregation (the synagogue pictured above) is accepting donations HERE and Christchurch Cathedral (the iconic picture of the earthquake damage for me, which I’ve included repeatedly in my posts on this topic) is accepting them HERE (these are still general donations for the upkeep of the cathedral; it plans to launch a fundraising drive specifically to rebuild later this year). Someone who should have an idea told me that the damage to Christchurch cathedral could run into the tens of millions.

But finally: it’s very easy to get quickly to the end of one’s capacity to make financial donations. Need makes itself known everywhere, and much of it is closer to home for many of us than Christchurch, as Calexora pointed out recently. When I pitch for Mr. Armitage’s endorsed charities, I always include a line about donating at home to the people in our communities first, especially in times of need like this. My mother emailed me this morning that they were covering the garden because they were expecting hail; tornadoes hit the U.S. midwest today. And we have to donate according to our means. I anticipate a slim year ahead myself, and I understand everyone who says, “not this time, not for this cause.” Why one catastrophe moves us to donate and another doesn’t is also a matter best left to individual judgments.

At times like this, when I’m struggling to figure out how to donate to everyone who needs it, I think of something that I taught frequently, given my research interests: The St Peter’s Indulgence of 1517. In most of the Protestant United States, pupils who learn anything about the Reformation learn that the sale of indulgences was equivalent to offering sinners the (false) opportunity to buy their way into heaven. One major task of any university instructor who teaches this period is to correct this misapprehension. Catholic theology never condoned the exchange of salvation for money, although it’s also clear that many of the people who purchased indulgences did not understand the subtleties of penitential theology especially well. This correction is usually approached by painting students a broader panorama of late medieval Catholic piety in which to put the sale of indulgences, and also to ask students to look closely at the instructions for their sale. One element that recurs again and again in the instructions to preachers who marketed them is that even those who cannot pay could obtain an indulgence if they fasted and prayed. This information tends to go under in the wash of details about prices, but it’s nonetheless important enough to be present in every indulgence instruction, and it wasn’t included pro forma. Indeed, overwhelming evidence suggests that most people who undertook to obtain indulgences engaged in pious activities rather than paying for them. Christians may disagree even now about whether human activity has any soteriological benefit, but the benefits of indulgences were available even to those who didn’t pay for them.

So, in light of this historical fragment — which testifies to the idea that G-d watches over the activities of great and small, of rich and poor, of donors and non-donors, and supports the good will of all of us with G-d’s power — I assert that we can all give our prayers and thoughts for the people of Christchurch, something I tried to say in my comment on the telethon website (see above). I won’t ask you to donate to this cause again. But I’d ask, if you donated, that you also think of or pray for the people of Christchurch in odd moments. And that, if you didn’t donate, that you do the same. (No comments on this blog required for either activity, so no delurking necessary!) Why? Because any of us could wake up in the morning and it could be we who are suffering and need the love and prayers of our sisters and brothers, as Angie’s experiences recently have demonstrated. Don’t give in to the capitalist idea that only money moves the world. Donating your prayers moves it, too. Love moves it, too.

In a very moving sermon written to respond to the idea that the earthquake was the judgment of G-d, the theologian Lynda Patterson noted that “G-d is there among the rubble weeping with the lost” and that “the act of G-d is the way we care for each other in the aftermath.” If we care for our fellow humans in Christchurch, we are there with them, and we are there with G-d. Praying is not just the best we can do. In an imperfect world, where our desire to help exceeds the bounds of pocketbooks, it is often all we can do. But it, too, is G-d acting through us. And that relationship makes it, and us, powerful in the face of our all too human weaknesses.

~ by Servetus on May 23, 2011.

28 Responses to “Double amputee Armitage, or: COMMENT FOR CHRISTCHURCH results, part 2!”

  1. I had a weird weekend that didn’t quite go the way I hoped, but in the midst of frustration and weariness I wasreminding myself it could be a lot worse. I still had a home and husband, family who loves me and a job that makes a difference in my community.

    I know as so many others know, yeah, what happened in Tuscaloosa and Phil Campbell and Hacklesburg, and in New Zealand and other places around the world could have been me. My family and co-workers and friends. My world. We have to imagine walking a mile in their shoes.

    We do need to look out for each other, help each other.
    I was reminded of that lesson in the midst of my weird weekend, too, when both friends and total strangers reached out to help me in a time of need. God bless all the angels out there.

    And thank you again for coming up with this idea, Servetus, and making it happen. It was a good thing, indeed.


    • And now Joplin. I usually drive through there on my way home.


      • I know, it’s just heart-wrenching to see this happening again. Our meteorologist was talking about it on the news tonight and saying how we felt a bond with the folks in Missouri because we knew firsthand the devastation of that sort of storm.


        • You cannot help but weep when you see that destruction.


          • it’s really upsetting.


            • I’ve cried a lot over all this. When I read the stories of individuals and families who made it through these storms alive–and those who didn’t–it really gets me emotional. And the people I’ve talked to who have been to Tuscaloosa and Hackleburg and other hard-hit areas say the photos do not do justice to the destruction. Worse than most war zones, someone said.


  2. I respect your view. For me, morality doesn’t necessarily equate with religion. I believe it’s incumbent on all of us to act in ways that have a positive effect in the world. It maintains the cohesiveness of society; once people cease to care about each, society disintegrates. The reward is knowing I’ve affected some good. At times I forget that when absorbed in my own concerns.

    Your challenge was a wonderful reminder and opportunity help those in need; I was glad to help. I applaud you for taking the first step by issuing the challenge, without which the rest us probably wouldn’t have participated. I do think Armitageworld is better for it.


    • I agree that morality and religion are two different things (just like education and intelligence). There may be overlap, or not. I just had a ridiculously religious childhood that I’m still processing 🙂 and may have a tendency to preach.

      Thanks for the positive strokes.


  3. Well done you for inspiring such generosity 🙂


  4. The Butterfly Effect in full force…a little ripple (your challenge) reached all the way around the world and not just to New Zealand.

    I was blessed to make a friendship or two on Twitter that night that I already value, made my own small donation to the telethon in honor of Richard and his fans, prayed, not just for the people in Christchurch but those I tweeted with as some were dealing with a tornado, a beloved pet dying among others.I hadn’t planned on it but I stayed up all night to watch and tweet. The sense of community was amazing. Saturday, May 21, 2011 is a bookmarked day.

    Thank you dear servetus for acting on the divine inspiration. Who was it that said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”?

    G-d bless you S.


  5. If thoughts took wing, and were transformed to prayers, thoughts are still with Christchurch, have flown to Joplin, Mo, and alighted in Slave Lake.

    “All shal be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
    Dame Julian of Norwich.

    The Telethon and the Servetus challenge, and Judiang and Calexrora and Frenz, were amazing. So many, from so many countries, drawn together for Christchurch.


    • How wonderful to read that quote from Dame Julian, fitzg. I find it gives great comfort when going through hard times. I remember finding it years ago in a book I was reading and sending it to my daughter-in-law who was very ill at the time. Thankfully she recovered although still has to deal with problems from time to time due to her condition (one of those awful auto-immune diseases).

      Truly the world seems chaotic right now with earthquakes, tornadoes, wild-fires and floods. Just when we think things couldn’t get much worse we get news of what happened in Joplin and elsewhere. Yet among all the horrifying pictures of the devastation on YT there was one of the most beautiful double rainbow that was seen in the sky after the tornado had passed and it struck me very forcibly that here was G-d’s message to us in the sky that He had promised centuries ago, and He seemed to be saying, “I am still here through these storms.” I found a short poem that says;

      Rainbows appear after mighty storms,
      When things look their worst,
      Just when the sky is darkest gray,
      Out of heaven does the rainbow burst.

      We wish we had endless funds at our disposal to send to those in need but we know that sometimes that is not possible but if we can do nothing else we can pray!


      • This reminds me of a sort of corny hymn that we sang a lot when I was a kid, “Hark the Voice of Jesus Crying.” There was a verse about what you could do if you didn’t have the calling to be a missionary, and it ended, “with your prayers and with your bounty / you can do what G-d commands / You can be like faithful Aaron / holding up the prophet’s hands.” I have mixed feelings about the hymn, and to some extent about how mission was taught to us in those days, but I do subscribe to the “every little bit helps” philosophy.


  6. […] fan challenge, with matching funds from other donors, was a huge success. Servetus has posted the final confirmed total. And RA fans also gave direct donations to the telethon. I tried to keep track of […]


  7. @Teuchter, that is a beautiful poem. And apposite to the present.

    You might, or might not, know that I am agnostic; which means being sceptical, but by no means atheistic; words and music and shared across the spectrum faith beliefs give thought to wing, whether interpreted as prayer, or thought that unites.

    Dame Julian was a 14th C mystic and anchorite, who discovered her unorthodox faith in the throes of a great illness in her thirties. She had visions. And wrote them, as one of earliest acknowledged documented English writers. She is venerated in the Anglican faith, and ackonwleged in the Roman Catholic.

    Words move me, as does music, of whatever faith, and mediaeval Gothic catherdrals. It is all a celebration of community and commonality. So, if I don’t say my prayers are with you, my thoughts are. With wings. Which I suspect, amounts to the same thing.

    btw, first came on Dame Julian via Anya Seton’s Katherine, which sent me on the mediaeval history research journey. 😀


    • @fitzg. I am so sorry if my comments caused you any offense. This was certainly not my intention for a moment. I do believe that words and music can indeed be moving whatever one’s beliefs might be. I just found that it was a book by Elizabeth Goudge that I was reading when I found the quote by Dame Julian, thanks to Google!! It was from a book from her trilogy about the Eliot family of Damerosehay. I just COULDN’T think of her name!


    • Also there’s a strong overlap between prayers and thoughts, I think.


  8. Teutcher,

    I loved those Elizabeth Goudge books about the Eliot family, especially the second one, Pilgrim’s Inn. I have re-read it several times and found a copy of one of the early editions at a flea market. I adore the character of Sally.
    The right words and the right music can speak to our hearts and spirits no matter who we are or what our beliefs may be.

    I remember one of my former students–who is now my vet–saying one day there was nothing quite lovelier to listen to than a group of elderly people singing “Amazing Grace.” I thought it was rather remarkable for a 17-year-old to make such an observation. 🙂


    • Did you see the video of Haley Westenra singing Amazing Grace at a concert for Rise up Christchurch? She is the New Zealand girl who sang with Celtic Women for a while. She sang it a capella and it gave me goose bumps it was so beautiful. I’ll send you a link if you haven’t.


      • I didn’t see it. Would like the link. My dad and I used to sing that together ever so often at church. Our voices were so different but they meshed together so well somehow.


        • @ Angieklong. Will do! It has special meaning to me as we had a young friend of the family play it on her bagpipes near my husband grave-side at his funeral. It was very moving as you might guess.


    • Linnets and Valerians!


  9. […] was really busy today, so I’m posting the following information on the end of the challenge. Both Frenz and her anonymous angel #2 donated to the Rise Up Christchurch / Te […]


  10. So is he going to have to do the entire movie on his knees?


    • Lol. I was wondering that, too. Probably they have special knee gear to keep them from hurting themselves — but won’t that interfere with his body language?


  11. […] I never thought, when I had a charitable impulse, that four other women I’d never met would spontaneously join the challenge and several hundred othe…. […]


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