In the utopian fiction novel, In His Steps by Charles Sheldon, a rich, popular, and prosperous newspaper man, Edward Norman, falls into near bankruptcy after making a pledge to do what Jesus would do. Edward Norman does not, in fact, in my opinion, do what Jesus would do. He acts stupidly (see the footnote for greater information) by refusing to advertise anymore for the tobacco and beer industries and he also decides he will not cover any of the subjectively “un-godly” important news or gossip. He quickly reaps the consequences of making such an action and loses a great deal of subscribers and is on the verge of bankruptcy when he pleads his case to a rich young heiress named Virginia Page. Virginia had been feeling rather conflicted about what is to be done with her inherited funds, as she had also taken the pledge to do as Jesus would do. She felt that it was wrong for her to be possession of such a great deal of wealth, and was unsure of “What Jesus Would Do” in her situation.
So, when editor Edward Norman pleaded his case to young Virginia Page, she readily agrees to give him $500, 000 (adjusted for inflation, this number would be equivalent to millions in today’s dollar).
In this essay, I will present my opinion on what Virginia should have done before giving Edward Norman $500, 000.
First of all, we can well see that Norman has a failing business. When one goes from a state of great wealth, to one of poverty in a relatively short amount of time, you know that there is a problem that must be resolved.
So, what was the problem?
The problem was not that Norman didn’t have the original funds to make the newspaper work; he was previously a very wealthy man. No, the problem was in his business plan. It was that his business plan was a failure.
Thus, the first thing Virginia should have done was to investigate his business plan, see that it was an obvious failure, and help him to design a successful business plan.
As it turns out, Edward did have a new business plan in mind. But Virginia didn’t know that. For all she knew, she could have been wasting a great deal of money that could have done a lot of good for the poor people of her area.
Some of you may be wondering why I think that Norman acted stupidly by quitting his advertising for the beer and tobacco industries and by not covering any of the subjectively ungodly important news or gossip.
First of all, while I disagree with his ideology that the Bible says that it would be wrong to advertise for the beer and tobacco industries, if one believes that God is telling them to do so, then one should definitely do as one feels led.
However, Editor Norman earned almost all of his income through those advertisements and through coverage of those “ungodly” reports.
I would argue that instead of going bankrupt, Norman should have sold his business and with his life savings (which were very large) start a new (subjectively) more “godly” one.