Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The secret to happiness

Last night in our home fellowship we watched the new documentary, The Ordinary Radicals. This film followed the Jesus for President book tour around the nation, and into Canada. Jesus for President was written by Shane Claiborne (Irresistible Revolution) and Chris Haw. I haven't had the chance to read the book yet, but I did buy it.

I'm not new to what Claiborne and other neo-monastics are preaching. When I was a child I read Cornerstone magazine, but none of that stuck because I was so young and submerged in the religious right. But over the last five years or so I've been proclaiming these things to anyone who would listen. What I love about Claiborne is that he's got so much humanity in this speaking and writing, and it is always encouraging to know there are others all over the world of a like mind.

There are great stories in the documentary, and some powerful images. It reminds me that I am so apathetic and lazy.

But the whole film had me realize, in the end, that I think is important: Consumerism creates a worldview that having things is more important than people.

We don't spend all our money on people, we horde it so we can buy more stuff. More stuff is the goal. The average home today doubled in size from the average sized home 50 years ago, and we don't use the garage for parking cars but to store stuff, and we have off-site storage as well.

If a budget is really a moral document, why do we set aside so much money to buy things and so little to help people out who have much less? Especially in my generation, the generation defined by consumption. We don't tithe in our congregations, and this is a huge problem for a lot of congregations who subsidize their young-adult programs with the tithe of the older folk.

A lot of us work hard just to pay our bills, and we don't have anything left over. I understand that, but why can't those with a bit left over help those with none, or those who don't have enough to even get the minimums?

You hear all the time when someone visits a third-world country; they say the people are so contented and happy even in their poverty. I think this might have something to do with the emptiness of material possessions and the joy of relationships. When a community has one mind and one spirit, what more do you need?

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