Joanna, at Keeping Feet, wrote a great piece called Sick of Stuff, which I thought was worth checking out. Here’s a snippet:
Christian author and theologian Richard Foster puts it this way:
The lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.
I stole that quote from my pastor’s sermon a couple weeks ago. The topic is Practicing the Economics of God’s Kingdom, and the second catalyst he talked about to encourage us to change the way we think about money and wealth and stuff, My personal economics will begin to change the more I am sick and tired of the material lifestyle I am living.
I recommend reading the whole thing here.
I just added a new type of post to Trying to Follow, called Asides. To see them you have to actually go to the website and browse the posts. They’ll mostly be short thoughts, links, maybe occasional pictures or videos. They won’t show up in your email or rss. The idea is it will allow me to post more often, without bombarding you with more information, and it’s one more reason to check out the website. Enjoy.
Abba Macacrius, while he was in Egypt, discovered a man who own a beast of burden engaged in plundering Macarius’ goods. So he came up to the thief as if he was a stranger and he helped him to load the animal. He saw him off in great peace of soul saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) -From Geez Magazine
Okay, so most folks would say he’s nuts. Yet, we also say God uses all things and everything, and if he can use a donkey he can use a thief. We don’t say the rich young ruler who decided not to give everything to follow Jesus was nuts, we usually just say he was in a tough spot, had to make a hard decision. My take, the monk has got a whole lot more sense then the nutty ruler.
And so I want to bring myself to this view of possessions. I don’t think it’s a bad place to be in. In fact I think if we are really going to be in a place that we are ready to leave everything and follow Christ, then we all better start working on this letting go of our possessions now.
Task: Convey Our Values about Stuff and Kids
Details: Construct a five line paragraph that politely and succinctly conveys Our values as it relates to “things” in an appropriate format to accompany baby shower invites, birth announcements, etc.
Necessary Resources: Readers, particularly the motherly kind or folks who attend lot’s of baby showers, basically people with some experience to tell me if what I write will fly or not.
Reference Material: You might recall my first attempt at explaining my values. It’s obviously a little to long, and maybe to in your face.
Rough Draft #1:
Ariah and Mindy have made it a goal in their lives to “live simply.” One way they have carried this out in their lives has been to only take what they can fit in their car each time they’ve moved (3+ times and counting!). Please respect Ariah and Mindy and the values they hold when considering a gift. They are open to suggestions, but please don’t purchase anything for them outside of what they have registered for (they have already received a number of items). Thanks for showing love to the quirky Fine’s we’ve all grown to love for just those reasons!
My mom emailed me the other night thinking that something had gone wrong with her email feeds of my blogs since she hadn’t been getting them. That’s a surefire sign that I need to get with the program and start blogging a bit more. Things have been really busy for a number of reasons: no internet, lot’s of work, more people in our home, long bike ride to work, and Moving.
Let me tell you about moving for a minute. For three out of the last four weekends we have rented a U-Haul truck and moved a bunch of stuff. It’s not technically my stuff personally, but as a part of this new community we’ve been forming it is my “stuff.” This stuff is part of my life, and it resides in the same home as I do.
Every move I’ve made personally since high school (including since being married to mindy) has been with only the stuff that would fit in a car. This is not quite as impressive as those folks who show up to college or their new home on a plane with two pieces of luggage (head nod to Zach), but I still find it as an important thing for me to do.
All this is to point out that the last month has solidified in my mind my desire to avoid the accumulation of “stuff.” I wish there was a good way to articulate the feelings of being overwhelmed by stuff, but I think you just have to experience it. Maybe my thresh hold is a bit lower then most people’s (seeing as many folks are quite comfortable with houses full of things and U-Haul’s packed floor to ceiling).
I always think about the quote:
“There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” -Gandhi
The truth is there is a large conversation to be had about what we have that are a “need” and what truly is an element of our greed.
I think I have too many hobbies. When I was in high school I skied a couple of times and then I bought my own pair (big purchase) because I was so sure I was going to do it all winter. Then I only skied a couple more times ever. Summer rolled around and folks where playing roller hockey in the street, I picked myself up a pair of skates, certain I’d spend all summer out playing, and the skates sat on a shelf in the garage for nearly the rest of their lives. I did the same thing with multiple items, and I still find myself doing it. I buy a quality something because it’s something I really intend to take up, and I rarely do.
I think my skates are still sitting on a shelf in my parents garage. A guitar sits in my closet, I just sold a SLR camera that’s been sitting around, my Greek books were gathering dust on the shelf, multiple books I always intended to read stand unopened. None of these items are bad themselves, but I’m in need of a reality check.
I think we probably all need to assess our “hobbies” and relinquish most of them. If I ever want to pick up serious photograph again there’s cameras out there. For now I should probably just stick to playing soccer more with the new cleats I bought. I think one hobby is probably enough. You might be able to justify two, but only if you actually do them.
I always here people talk about being wise with your money doesn’t mean buying cheap it means buying quality, but I’d argue quality that sits gathering dust in the garage is probably not very wise either.
I’ve certainly got some more things I need to get rid of, reality check here we come.
Update: I totally forgot about my camping gear (tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and a few doohickies)
I’m up late trying my hardest to rid myself of stuff. My friend, Bryan, reminded me that you really do “live” with your stuff. It’s me, my wife and our stuff.
And I have entirely too much stuff. There are some big ticket items to get rid of (including about 100 t-shirts) and I just need to do it ASAP. I’ve posted a lot on Craigslist, hoping to make a few bucks in the process, but then there is this economics lesson nagging at me.
Once you have spent money on something and you own it, that price/value is a sunk cost. If I paid $5 a shirt for the 100 shirts I thought I’d sell at a profit, no matter what happens I’ve already spent that $5, it’s sunk. So, when I have to get rid of them I’m desperately trying to make my $5 back, but the truth is that cost is gone, and their value is only going to be what someone will actually pay for them. If I can’t sell them for $5 a piece it’s silly for me to just keep them because I don’t want to “lose money” on the deal, I already did lose money.
Thank you economics class.
So how much will you pay for these shirts?