sure, Kunzang's post migth at first seem a little picky, but I think it deserves some attention, since Kunzang was not the only person I spoke to who felt unpleasant with the situation. Personally, I also felt unpleasant. Actually, mimicring the form of the admission fee, took quite some effort for me not to think of it as a cumpolsury entrance fee, despite the relatively clear message in the news-mail. And when a friend of mine asked me whether from now on “the entrance fee will be paid permanently”, I had quite some troubles explaining him that it is still a donation – because due to this unpleasant feeling I wasn not personally as deeply convinced of it as I should be.
As for the “member-cards”; I didn't have any extra-feelings about them. But I again agree with Kunzang in seeing in them a danger of negative stratification leading to an us & them perspective – which is, in my opinion, not what Dharma should be all about. Now, this question ceases to be only the matter of money, actually, since it could become a matter of inclusiveness/exclusiveness, and, of giving or not giving a positive sign that we are (still) an equal community. I might be the more so sensitive about these questions, since a.) I remember how difficult it was for me at the start to gain this feeling, and b.) my experience in social work has shown me how important it is to give such positive signs to people who feel (seemingly) excluded/underprivileged. I wouldn't like to see, one day, that there are such people in our community. And – regardless of the sum donated or deeds “sacrificed” - I'm firmly convinced that when I am (we are) donating or helping people, I'm (we are) not doing this for a card, or for a promotion – or even for a thank you. At least this was always my experience.
I hope it is clear that I also think that donations should be “self-evident”, a well as that a cinema-ticket-amount is a reasonable amount in most cases. But I cannot help still having some doubts about the “form” (and its possible implications) of this unquestionably positive “content”.