Tag Archives: lifestyle

Small Things Do Not Replace Big Things

This is my response to the comment below that was made on my blog a while back:

My point is that people of faith who ache for a lost, dying, and hungry world ought to spend less time worrying about what soda or coffee to drink, or whether to put on a (“fair trade” wool) sweater or turn up the heat, and saying things like “heres to you” to pizza donating murderers, and more time doing things with a little more substance to help alleviate or solve the problems they lament.

Dear Friend,

If people of Faith, and readers and author of this blog, were spending ALL of their time worrying about what to buy, regulating temperatures and toasting murderers, I too would have a problem with that. From what I can tell you see the above steps and actions to be “little things.” They are things that you see as not having any major significance in the world, effecting no major changes, impacting only a small portion of this “lost, dying and hungry world.” I think to some degree you are right. I am willing to admit my choices not to drink coffee and avoid certain brands of other products are “little things” in the overall impact they have on the world. I won’t disagree with you there. I will say, though, that I think these little things are hugely important and have a much bigger impact then you realize, but that’s a conversation for another time. Today I simply want to clarify that I am in no way suggesting that these “little things” take the place of what you consider “doing things with a little more substance to help” (I’ll consider these ‘big things’).

Little Things should take the place of Little Things
When I write a post about what soda to drink or what coffee brand to avoid, I am not suggesting that we take this up as our life cause, schmoozing in coffee shops and talking to corporate elites about avoiding certain products, while the needy remain hungry and poor. What I’m suggesting is that you replace the ‘little thing’ of your choice of soda (usually based on some brand preference and price) with a new ‘little thing’ of a choice of beverage based on a certain ethical or moral value. When I write about turning down the heat in your apartment, I’m not suggesting campaigning for the removal of all heating units in the USA or even quitting your job to have time to chop firewood. I was simply writing about my “little” experiment with turning down my heat, and considering a “little” lifestyle change as it relates to heat and energy consumption. These are little things, and they generally will remain so (I’ll talk about why they are extremely important in another post).

Big Things should take the place of Big Things
Here’s where I think the clarity needs to be made. Turning down your heat, buying one brand of soda or clothing rather then another, takes very, very little time on a day-to-day basis. Turning your heat down two degrees does not then exempt you from serving soup at the shelter for those that don’t have heat. Buying fair trade coffee does not then exempt you from providing drink for the thirsty in your neighborhood. I’ve never suggested, nor intended to suggest, that you can earn your indulgences with a few strategic ethical purchases. Here, though, is were it gets tricky, because the reverse is also true.
Helping out at a soup kitchen does not free you to oppress, or comply with oppressing, people in your city. Sponsoring a child does not allow for guilt-free purchasing of sweatshop clothing that forces communities into needing sponsors. Planting a tree for a community service project does not give you free reign to use as much energy as you want.

Hopefully this clarified things a bit.

Flash Back: A Podcast on Simple Living and the Poverty Line

I reposted about this topic in December, but I wanted to highlight the podcast, which I think is worth a listen. A while ago I chatted with my friend Nate about simple living and some discussion we had had on our blogs and others comments. It was quite interesting.

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For the original post, On Simple Living and living “a dollar above” the poverty line

You won’t question it, unless you step out of it.

It’s extremely difficult to recognize and acknowledge that what you are doing is wrong. It’s much easier after the fact, or when you are not in the midst of your crime, to reconsider things and give an opportunity to entertain the otherside.
So many arguments are often worthless because we are such stubborn creatures, standing firmly in our opinion refusing to back down. It’s only after the argument when we’ve stepped out of defending our views that we can go back and acknowledge the correct views of our opponent.

Specifically, I’m talking about our lifestyles though. I’ll give some specific but controversial examples. It’s hard to willingly acknowledge the arguments of Walmart’s clothes being made in sweatshops, when we regularly shop there. It’s difficult to agree to the benefits of using less gas, when we have a long commute and drive everywhere. Seeing how good it is to compost or recycle or not eat red meat is tough, when it has never been a regular part of your lifestyle.

This is one of the reasons I’m so excited to be living in the community that we are a part of now. All of us have chosen to step out of our normal lifestyles and come together to live in an intentional way. The way we are living is a bit different then are lifestyles have been in the past. What is exciting is that this will give us a huge opportunity to consider our faith again, and really address how we feel our faith is to be lived out in our lives. And, we are having the opportunity to do it, while not in the midst of a lifestyle that might strongly contradict what we want to acknowledge as part of our faith.

Step away.

I think I’m back (with air conditioning intact)

Our lease in this apartment started on the 15th. Unfortunately, all that was supposed to be done to the apartment, stuff we had agreed upon with the landlord that would be done, was not done on the 15th. I think, since he had let us move in earlier into the two bedroom next door, he felt he didn’t have to stay within that time-line. I’m not sure the reasoning, but on the 15th those things where not done. On Friday, the 18th, we rented a carpet cleaner from the grocery store and cleaned the carpets ourselves. We moved in on Saturday.
Just yesterday an air-conditioning unit was finally put in upstairs (where Mindy and I sleep). There are still holes in the walls that need to be patched (a priority mostly for efficiency of air escaping, not so much aesthetics), and the toilet in the bathroom is still leaking, and there are a couple other things. Eventually they are going to put in washer and dryer hook-ups as well.

Mainly though, our air-conditioning upstairs is working, which means it’s not 90+ degrees. This means I can comfortably work at my desk, unpack my stuff, and what you’ve all been waiting for, sit undistracted and type. I think that means I’m back. Hopefully you can tell by the amount of posts this week.

Reflections on Community, moving, painting and more.

As I write I’m sitting on my futon mattress fold in half with piles of stuff all around me, in a living room of a new apartment. In the bedroom Dawn, Avery and Roman are sleeping, and Bryan is at the coffee shop working. Our community has begun. It really started two weeks ago when we moved Bryan and Dawn and the kiddos from their apartment into my two bedroom apartment (minus Mindy who is chilling in Minnesota with her family).
Thursday night our community grew. Daniel, Josh and Chris all agreed to join our experiment. What does this whole thing truly mean? I couldn’t tell you. There will be nine people attempting to live together, to be intentional about how we live together and to share, challenge, encourage and grow with one another. We never sat down and wrote out a plan for what we are trying to accomplish, we didn’t have any specific discussions (yet) about goals, rules, visions. What we share is a conviction of living out this faith and trying to follow the ways of Jesus. It’s going to be interesting to see what that looks like.
Let me explain briefly the space that we will be living in (pictures to come soon). We will be renting two units of a tripleplex (like a duplex only bigger). In the larger one Bryan and Dawn and the kids will take two connected rooms. Mindy and I will have a section of the upstairs in that same unit. The living room, kitchen and a portion of the upstairs will be common space for all to use. The second unit is a small two bedroom unit where the three guys will share the available rooms. The living room and kitchen in that area will serve as some other function of the house. The goal will be for these two units to be shared freely and not to be disconnected in anyway.
One of my readers here mentioned that they are very interested in what we are doing and hoped that I would be open and honest about the experience. Let me acknowledge that I will make every effort to be open and honest in what I write. However, I will not use that honesty as an excuse to be in any way negative concerning others. If that means at times you do not get the full picture, then so be it. I will certainly share about the difficult experiences and the tensions that arise, but I will not do so at the expense of any community member. I hope I am clear about my intentions and I hope you find what I write about this experiment enjoyable.
I can’t speak for others, but I will share more soon about why I feel that this communal living is an important and worthwhile endeavor.

Commuter USA: what our lives are becoming.

I ran across this article while looking at something else on Newsweek and some of the statistics and stories shocked me. “The Long and Grinding Road” is all about the great rise in commuting that has been happening in our country, even while gas prices go up.

As we’re pushed to the edge of civilization by runaway home prices and a longing for wide-open spaces, the daily rat race is turning into a marathon. “Extreme commuters” who travel more than 90 minutes to work, one way, are the fastest-growing group of commuters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

They give some other reasons behind the rise in commuting, but more shocking then that was all the acknowledgements of how taxing and harmful the long commutes are:

Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” found that every 10 minutes added to your commute decreases by 10 percent the time you dedicate to your family and community.

The result of all these drivers behaving badly: more crashes. A federal study released last week found that 80 percent of crashes are caused by “driver inattention,” up from a previous estimate of 25 percent.

The longer the commute, the more likely the commuter will suffer bouts of road rage, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and ulcers, says Dr. John H. Casada, a specialist in road stress. And Georgia Tech researchers found that every 30 minutes spent driving increases your risk of becoming obese by 3 percent.

Drivers today eat an average of 32 meals a year in their car, according to the researcher NPD Group. And one in four restaurant meals is now ordered from the car.

And then they go into all the new advances that fast food, car manufacturers and others are making to appeal to your commuting needs.
I took the brief survey Newsweek has about my commute and found the over all results surprising. 50% of the people surveyed spend over $40 a week on commuting cost. 65% of those surveyed commute over 15 miles (I think that’s one way) and spend over 30 minutes in their car. I guess I spend about the same amount of time on my bike, so maybe I’ve got to watch out for some of these things too.

On Simple Living and living “a dollar above” the poverty line

This podcast I brought a guest speaker in, Nate Manaen, all the way from Las Vegas (He joins us in the study, from inside my cellphone). The topic being discussed was originally brought about by some post Nate put on his Xanga a week ago. You can read his two post and some of the comments here: post 1, post 2.

Here is the podcast.

Please post your comments and thoughts below or on my xanga or Nate’s.

p.s. If your an audio junky, get the quality downloads here.