Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heads & Tales: day 17

I’m bad at math, but sometimes still try.

Recently I asked my friend Amy to help me with a little math problem, to try and determine the approximate worth of the Magi’s gift to the Christ child.

They brought gold, silver, and myrrh.

The common coin, a silver denarius, weighed about 1 ounce. In today’s market, an ounce of silver is worth $33.82 USD. Gold is worth 51.4x silver, so a gold coin would be valued at $1739.89 USD.

IF the Magi gave Christ a gift of gold coins, we can safely assume they gave him no less than 100 gold coins (possibly more), thus amounting to approximately $173,989 USD.

Frankincense was worth 10x the value of gold, but they probably gave him less. If we surmise that 1 measure of frankincense weighed 3 ounces and that they gave him 3 measures of that kingly gift, then the approximate value of the frankincense offering would have been $156,451.50.

Myrrh was worth 5x the value of frankincense, resulting in three measures valuing approximately $782,260.

Total value of all three gifts combined? $1,112,700

But let’s not forget to multiply that by a standard rate of inflation from 0AD to the present day, 5.49, thus resulting in a total gift (adjusted) of $6,108,723 USD.

What a ridiculous number.

You may, of course, doubt the process by which I’ve arrived at this remarkable sum. I invite you to do so. But EVEN IF I’m VERY, VERY WRONG the gift was still an astronomical sum given to a stonemason’s family earning the equivalent of $30,000/yr without medical or dental insurance.

It’s a crap-ton of money.

They gave lavishly to Christ.

To whom do we give lavishly?

In my case, I’m saddened to think that I most frequently give to people I cannot impress or to purchase things I cannot keep.

But the gifts of the Magi convict me. They gave gifts fit for a king—gold was a gift of allegiance, given in tax; frankincense was a gift of coronation, given at the moment of a king’s ascension; myrrh was a gift of burial, given at interment.

If they recognized him as king in such a costly manner, why don’t I?

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