When you think, “How do I love my neighbor as myself?” it becomes just impossible to do that within the worldview of the American dream.
But I think what’s exciting is that Jesus has another dream, and Jesus is offering us another dream. Where it’s not even just this ascetic simplicity–give up everything and be poor–but it’s this idea that God created an economy of enough. God didn’t create a world of scarcity. But we’ve created poverty and need by not living out this command to love our neighbor as ourself.
I get so tired and so energized by the consumerism debate. Part of me agrees whole-heartedly. We need to buy less and live simply and give to the poor and love our neighbors, both across the street and across the world. And then part of me gets tired of it and says back off and says I’m already doing a lot and I don’t want to be some freak.
When it comes down to practical, day-to-day living it just gets hard. I’m typing on a laptop right now. Should I feel guilty for having such a pricey toy? Is it justified that it enables me to do my job, or is that just a copout? If I use it to help others think about consumerism, is that OK?
I’ve got a closet full of clothes and a house full of stuff–though less stuff than I use to have. Some of it is necessary. I need to mow my lawn. Though I don’t have a tweaked out lawn mower, I have a goofy manual push mower like you see in old cartoons. We’ve got a lot of clothes for our daughter, but the stuff that doesn’t fit any more we’ve loaned out to another couple from church. Those kind of things feel like a step in the right direction. But do they matter? Are they enough?
As with everything in life I suspect there’s a balance to be had. It’s just hard to find in the land of plenty.
A Dorothy Day quote Claiborne uses seems applicable (also fit with the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07–I love it when these things overlap):
“The best thing to do with the best things of life is to give them away.”