Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

January 29, 2008

Why we try to live simply, Part 2

Filed under: christianity,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 10:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

This series, evidently, could also accurately be called “Why living simply is not simple.”

It’s proving to be a much more difficult topic than I expected, mainly due to reading Foster’s book, who also speaks of the “complexity of simplicity.” I’ve had to take a bit of a hiatus to get through a section of that book before I started writing these posts again. And remember, if you really want to know about living simply, or more specifically how to become a person of simplicity, check out some expert writers or journals of Christians who lived full lives of simplicity. I’m not your expert or best example in the matter.

It’s been difficult mostly because I wasn’t patient. I found that Foster’s words spoke directly to me…”By now you may be wondering, ‘Why all this talk about…spiritual preparation? Can’t we just get on with the business of simplifying our lifestyles without all the God talk?’ I answer that you are welcome to try, and God help you – because you will sorely need it. Although I deeply empathize with this ‘holy impatience’ to get on with the task, the clear witness of Scripture is that something beyond good intentions and will-power is needed to transform our egocentric, greed-captivated personalities into an all-inclusive community of loving, sharing persons.”

And it’s true. Being more practical than theological in nature, I tend to jump on things and want to know exactly what to do to arrive at a place. I read and know that simplicity is a good thing, so tell me what I need, what I need to give up, and…well, it’s just not that simple.

Foster uses the verse, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” We can’t be double minded and live simply. We must more and more seek God and His Kingdom, we must pray increasingly, be in more constant awareness or consciousness of God, we must desire Christ more than anything else. Making definable steps to reduce consumerism, materialism, and greed may certainly be helpful. Refuse to buy things you don’t need that put you further into debt, work less and spend more time with the family, don’t be afraid to step away from the rat race and miss a chance to get ahead, etc. Do that. But if we pursue simplicity only outwardly, we will be like a rock climber who sets out to climb Everest without gear.

Earlier this week, my wife and I were asked by some media if we thought we could be happier if we pursued a more typical “American” lifestyle (bigger home, nicer clothes, and acquiring better things). Absolutely not, and we were clear about that. In fact, we believe just the opposite. The more stuff we get, the more we live in luxury, the more dependent we become on that stuff, and the less focused on God, the sustainer of our lives, we are. Working harder and longer to obtain nicer things and more modern technologies will not give us the joy that we can have in following Christ.

That’s what we believe. It’s not how we always act, nor is it what our minds always tell us. There’s so much out there, from advertisements and marketing to desires born in us over many years, to fit in. So much that says we’d be happier with more. It’s a constant struggle of keeping our gaze on Christ and seeking always to let Him direct our every decision.

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Choosing Ourselves

Filed under: christianity,wealth — theburts @ 9:36 pm

I love messing around with my guitar. I’m not very good, and should spend my practice time more efficiently, but I really enjoy figuring out new chords and transitions. So here’s a song based on that tinkering. (Amanda finally insisted I put words with it and stop playing the same old tune over and over again for no purpose, hee hee)

If you read the sharing wealth series, that’s what the song is about. The words are posted in the description of the video, but I’ll post them below as well. Hope you enjoy, but more so, I hope it convicts everyone (including me) a little bit.

“What if we would take up our cross, denying ourselves? Could we really let go of our place, and lift up everyone else? What if we saw Jesus Christ in the face of the poor? When folks are hungry, broken and broke, could we open the door?

No, that gospel is too dangerous
We’ve got too much to lose
As for me and for my house we will serve you, Lord
But somehow we’ll still choose

Ourselves

What if we were satisfied with only what we need? Find some luxuries to do without, and not be mastered by greed. Having one coat, could we be content? Or do we need four? Is it true that riches deceive, because we’ll always want more?

What if we lived in a world, that was turned upside down? Where it’s better to give than receive, what kind of joy could be found? What if Christians fasted and shared, until all had enough? Could we wait until there’s no one who lacks, before we buy more stuff?

No, that gospel is too dangerous
We’ve got too much to lose
As for me and for my house we will serve you, Lord
But somehow we’ll still choose

Ourselves

You ask us to deny ourselves, and follow You
But, Lord, that’s so hard to do.”

January 24, 2008

A Story

We’re going to have a lot of people coming to our blog soon. Many will have questions about why we do what we do. So I’m glad we started this series. But I also wanted to share a story, or a parable I guess, that I made up this morning while I was still in bed (and also while taking a shower, which is funny considering what the story is about). It’s for anyone who wonders how “love your neighbor” can apply to recycling and, specifically, dumpster diving. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Once upon a time in a land far far away, there was a village. :) There were about a hundred people in this little village, and in the center of the village was a small pool of water fed by an underground spring. Every day it would fill up with the same limited amount of water, about 15 gallons or so, and every night the villagers would come gather water for their families. Some of the poorest in the village would simply cup some water into their hands and drink from the pool, but most would bring a small cup or jar and take that back to their homes.

One rich man, though, would completely fill a five gallon bucket and haul it back to his family of five every single night. At their dinner table, they would each use pitchers instead of cups, and whatever the man and his family didn’t drink they’d pour down the sink. Then the mother and daughters heated pans of water and soaked their feet, giving them the fairest feet in the village. Meanwhile, the father and his son loaded up their water pistols and played out in the yard. Whatever water was left over at the end of the evening was simply thrown outside on the rocky path leading out of the house.

On the other side of the village, however, things were not so pleasant. You see, around 30 to 40 of the villagers didn’t get much water, and often none at all. It was usually the poorest folks, since they had to work longer and were the last ones at the pool. And the water was frequently gone by the time they arrived. These people were almost always sick, and every so often, one of them would die.

One day, the son of the rich man went out to play with his friends. He did not know that he wasn’t supposed to play with the poor village boys. Actually, being young and innocent, he didn’t even notice that they were poor. But on this particular day, what he did notice was that one of his best friends wasn’t there. When he asked about him, the son learned that the boy had died the night before…because he didn’t have enough water. The boy remembered all the water they threw out and the water fights they had every night, and he decided to do something about it.

It didn’t take him long to think of some ideas. The next day, at the end of the evening, he asked if he could throw out the leftover water. Then, when his parents weren’t looking, he ran back to the well and poured it back into the pool. Why not reuse that water, he thought, instead of wasting it? Everyone at the water pool was so thankful, and there were only a few that night who didn’t have enough. Not satisfied, he started gathering up water after the water pistol fights, even wringing out his wet clothes into the bucket, and using that for his own water…asking his dad to not get any water for him out of the pool. He realized how wasteful the water fights were, and decided he’d do his small part in making sure that perfectly good water wasn’t wasted while others were in need. He thought that if only he could convince his two sisters and his mom and dad to do the same, everyone in the village would have enough.

He was right…if only.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” ~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Hopefully, my story was clear enough for you to figure out why we might recycle and “redeem” perfectly good food that’s been tossed out (if not, reread that last paragraph with that in mind). What you might not have figured out is that the statistics are accurate. We in the U.S. have 5% of the world’s population, yet consume 30% of the world’s resources. Hence, the 5 gallon bucket and the 15 gallon pool, the family of 5 in a village of 100, etc. Of course, those statistics are about all resources, not just water, but you get the idea.

So it seems like it would have been pretty obvious to the rich folks in this story, and that they’d probably have done something about it long before people began to die…and right you may be. Or maybe the village would have outcast the rich family before it got to be a problem. Our problem is that we are so far away from the other side of the village, and also that we have so much power. We never have to be around those who can’t get enough water, we never have to see the destruction we cause by raping the planet, we never have to see landfills if we’ve got enough wealth, and we never have to worry about a country of starving people setting us right because they’re not powerful enough.

So that’s the problem. The answer is different for everyone, and definitely doesn’t always include dumpster diving! But the Christian call (and the calls of other faiths) is to love God, love others and to seek justice throughout the land. We simply have to care about our nation’s overconsumption and all the ways in which that relates to so many millions having so little, and each person needs to decide what they’re going to do about it.

January 22, 2008

Why we try to live simply, Part 1

Filed under: creation care,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 10:14 pm
Tags: , , , ,

“Simplicity is the most outward of all the Disciplines, and hence the most susceptible to corruption. How could I be specific without being rigid? How could I call people from greed without introducing a new pharisaism?” – Richard Foster, in the preface to Freedom of Simplicity, on why it was a difficult decision for him to write an entire book on such a “complex” topic.

I, too, hesitated to write anything on the subjects of riches, possessions, and simplicity. Like Foster, I don’t feel qualified. Sort of like I don’t feel qualified to be speaking to the world on ways to counteract America’s overconsumption and waste. :) But, as I’ve state before, it’s good for me to write about things because it forces me to read and study and think about the issue at hand, and hopefully come to better understanding of whatever my role is in that issue.

So here we are. But, if you really want to learn about simplicity, this isn’t the best place…I can guarantee that. Go read Freedom of Simplicity, which is good so far (though I’m only on the second chapter!). Or read about the lives of the early saints (or current ones) who really lived their lives simply. This, however, is written by someone who found himself at one point of his life too attached to stuff, and who now desires by gradual change to experience that “freedom of simplicity.”

Also, though I’m not sure yet, I think it might be quite similar to the last series on “why we share our wealth.” Because living simply implies, I think, a certain contentment with what we need as well as a desire to share God’s blessings with others. I cannot live simply and continue to spend my money on whatever it is that I want for me. I cannot live simply and continue to fill my life with things that promise to be “all you need to be happy.” If I choose to be content, and to trust in God, I will become more and more a person of simplicity.

I guess that was just an intro. Come back for more later….back to work for now.

January 20, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 4

This is the last of the “Why we share our wealth” part of the series, I promise. A few days ago, Amanda and I sat down and wrote down all the Bible verses we could think of that had to do with money and riches. We wrote them on some of the 2,000 different colored envelopes we found in the trash, and planned on posting them around various places in our house to remind us of why we shouldn’t move to a mansion in Belle Meade (a very Mindy Fine thing to do…not moving to Belle Meade, but the scripture cards, haha). I actually just referred to those cards when writing all these blogs…and because of that, I failed to include a very important passage that’s already ON our wall. It’s an example of giving everything until everyone has their needs met, and it was being lived out in a very real way…so much so that there were no needy persons among them. A lot has changed since then, for we now have the opportunity to help those beyond our cities with just the click of a button. But even if we just all started with our own cities and pleaded with other rich brothers and sisters to do the same, we could recreate this scenario:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2) “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4)
No one claimed that any possession was his or her own. These radical disciples actually shared everything until there was no one lacking. This is what we truly want to see happening in the world, or at least among people of faith. And, as Gandhi reminds us, we must start with ourselves…”Be the change you want to see in the world.” So that, my friends, is why we share our wealth. May God continually give us the faith, hope and love to do so.

Now for the fine print:
1) Most of what has been discussed and suggested so far has dealt exclusively with sharing money, or giving away possessions with value attached to them. Let it be known that I don’t think that’s enough. After Jesus told the rich ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor, he also said “follow me.” And I think, if we truly follow Jesus, we will be among the poor and oppressed. He wants more than our cash, to quote Derek Webb, he also wants our time and our voice. Charities are great, but they also keep us at a very safe distance from the ones receiving the charity (Shane Claiborne wrote a good bit about this in Irresistible Revolution). Mother Teresa, too, said, “Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them.” We could give away all our excess for an entire lifetime, but never really spend time with the poor, and I believe Christ calls us to do better.
2) When we mention that we share our wealth, we don’t want anyone to believe that we are “saints” in this area. If you didn’t notice in the last post, I suggested that we must give away everything except that which we need to live…until all the poor are cared for. How far should we take that? I’ll let everyone figure that out for themselves. :) For us, we choose to have enough that we can still carry on our professional careers successfully, for one thing. If I lived in a tent with one change of clothes, I could survive….but it would not be healthy for me and Amanda at this point, and I would likely lose my job. So we do have an apartment and more than one pair of shoes. Yes, we do live simply and with less stuff, but we also have a long way to go. That realization doesn’t bog us down with guilt, but encourages us to set goals to work towards. Change is hard and not overnight for everyone. Rewards are not always immediate, either, but we all need to be constantly looking for ways to be more Christ-like in this area.

January 18, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 3

Paul, there are a few people in the assembly here who dress really well, ride nice camels, and their homes have rooms and beds they don’t even use. They’re super nice and well versed in scriptural knowledge, but I wonder if they’ve read Christ’s teachings regarding riches. You see, there are hundreds in this city who are without shelter and food, and it seems like they, being rich, could share a lot more than their regular tithe. But I’m afraid, Paul. I don’t want to say anything, because I think they would be offended. And I am on salary here. What should I do?
-the epistle of Timothy

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
-the epistle of Paul to Timothy

Ok, so the first one was made up. But you see my point, I hope…a reminder that rich people existed in the first century as well. And they were exhorted to give and share generously to take hold of the “life that is truly life.”

Here, in one paragraph, is my understanding of how much the gospel of Christ calls Amanda and me to give…then I will post a few verses to support it. It’s not a number, by the way, or a percentage of income. Neither of those work out so well when you have such a huge gap between the poorest of the poor and, well, us. So here it is. Ready? Until all the poor of the world are fed, clothed, sheltered and tended to, Christ calls us to give everything away except that which we need to live. And face it, we don’t really need most of the things we have to live. Again, we aren’t anywhere close to perfecting this one, but that’s what we see in the gospel and where we want to head. Now, will that time come in our lifetime? Or ever? Well, probably not. But God doesn’t call us to be successful…he calls us to be faithful (Mother Teresa).

Remember the gap I talked about between the poor and the rich? Jesus told a story about a poor widow who put in two copper coins, where the rich were throwing in large amounts. Jesus said she’d given more than all the others. “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” So it’s not the amount. If I’m able, by being a doctor, to give large amounts, that doesn’t make me any more generous or righteous than the person who can only manage a hundred dollars here and there. I think it was Dorothy Day who said “It’s not how much you give, but how much you have left, that matters.” What if all Christians followed that rule? We need more people to give until it hurts, until they can’t give anymore.

When John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord, the people asked him what they should do. Among other things, he offered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” With many other words, Luke writes, he preached the Good News to them. Could that be the first practical lesson on the Gospel?

Jesus echoed it in the sermon on the mount, after telling us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Also, as recorded by John, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3)

Amanda and I are trying to take scripture for what it says and not excuse ourselves for any reason. How can we justify having two winter coats and knowing there are freezing women and men under the bridges? Fashion isn’t a good enough excuse. Not wanting our friends to see us wear the same coat all the time isn’t either.

One more scripture, and it’s been probably the most influential one for us. But you have to go look this one up…it’s too long to post. Matthew 25: 31-46.

Mother Teresa hit the nail on the head about this passage; “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” If we treat everyone in the entire world with the love we’d treat Jesus, or with the love that we’d treat our own brother or sister, son or daughter, we find ourselves giving till it hurts. We find ourselves unable to justify many expenses, living simply so that others may simply live (a motto of ours, but we don’t remember where we got it, sorry).

And again, without love, giving means nothing. It’s not about money or fund raising programs, it’s about loving God and loving our neighbor. If we give hundreds of thousands every year and live without one single luxury, but don’t have love, we gain nothing. Amanda and I want to constantly focus on this, striving to give purely out of love rather than legalistic requirements. We know we need to love more, and we desire to grow in that love every day. OK, I lied, one more verse.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (I John 4) Which reminds me of my all time favorite play ever, Les Miserables. Victor Hugo wrote something similarly profound in it, sung by Jean Val-Jean in his dying breath. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Lord, be merciful to us when we fail to love you in the least of these, and let us look at every opportunity to share and give as a chance to see the face of God.

January 16, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 2

Ok, so we’re rich. Now what? Let’s take a peek at some of what Jesus says to (or about) the rich.

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt 19, Mark 10, Luke 18…just after he told a rich ruler to sell his possessions and give everything to the poor, and to follow Jesus.)

I think that’s enough to widen our eyes and put a fire under us. Jesus lets us know that it’s very difficult for us to enter the Kingdom of God. Why? I’ll get to that. First, let’s visit some of Christ’s teachings as recorded by Dr. Luke.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life doesn’t consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12)

Jesus continued, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Alright, I’ve heard this passage a hundred times growing up. It ends with this climax, “Seek his Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you (NKJ).” It’s a great verse. It speaks of how the Kingdom of God is so much more than possessions, or wealth. We shouldn’t be spending our time going after the things the pagan world goes after. We shouldn’t worry, we shouldn’t fear. God will provide.

I never really remember reading the next part (I’m sure I just skipped it because it only applied to the people who were too attached to their possessions, not me). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Earlier, I asked “Why is it so hard for us rich folk to enter the Kingdom?” It’s because we will trust in our possessions, in our riches. We no longer need to depend or rely on God, because we can provide everything we can imagine for ourselves. All we have to do to build a bigger barn is withdraw some of our stash, and all we have to do to feed ourselves is to haul our SUV to our barn (or Outback). This is why this upside down Kingdom was so popular among the poor of Jesus’ society. They saw a dream in Jesus’ words of a system overturned; where the humble were lifted up, the mourners laughed, and the poor became rich.

The rich, however, were so caught up with their temporary “fulfillment” that they couldn’t see the need for this kind of a Kingdom. And so are we, often. Sure, all Christians claim dependence on God and interest in the Kingdom. I do. But I guarantee that you could name something I wouldn’t want to sell so I could give the money to the poor. We have to start being less attached to our possessions. Of course, it’s one thing to say we’re not attached, and another entirely to act on it. Jesus calls us to act on it. Not just the rich ruler, mind you, he asks everyone to sell possessions and give to the poor. And he says that where our treasure is, there he’ll find our heart. (When you find time, I suggest you go meditate on this scripture.)

At this point, it would be easy to stop. We’ve established:

  • Be on guard against greed
  • Don’t store up for ourselves but be rich toward God
  • Don’t be too attached to our possessions
  • Don’t worry about our lives, our food and clothing, like the pagans do
  • Sell possessions and give to the poor

Ok, fine. I can give to the poor, claim every single one of these other things and still live a luxurious life, right? Millions claim it. But what we claim about whether or not we’re attached to our possessions, about where our treasure is, and about whether or not we worry about stuff, doesn’t amount to much more than a stinky pile of crap. What matters is how we live. And that’s where we’re heading in the next post. How does all this change how we live?

Amanda and I, among many others, desire to look different than the pagans. We feel that following Jesus Christ completely will lead someone to look strange. If we buy, invest, recreate, work, give and worry exactly the same as the pagan world, how can we claim to not run after the things the pagan world does? If I my life looks identical to that of the pagan optometrist with the same salary down the block, I’ve got a problem. Jesus’ followers in the early church history were recognizable. Are we?

(Please be advised that if you answer only “we’re forgiven” to the question of how we’re different than the pagans, I will get upset. If you read a Bible that says the only area where Christians should differ from pagans is in our forgiveness, we read a different Bible. God isn’t looking for people who will simply make a statement for forgiveness and heaven-readiness…he’s looking for courageous men and women through whom He will bring heaven to earth.)

January 15, 2008

Why we share our wealth, Part 1

I’ll start this series with a simple confession. Amanda and I are rich. That’s not to brag, and it really doesn’t have much to do with our income. It has to do with the fact that we are among the top few percent of the richest people in the world. Probably most of my readers, you included, are also rich by that reasoning…check out the statistics if you’re not sure.

We have enough money to rent a small apartment, we own a car, we never have to worry about going hungry, we have several changes of clothes and shoes, we own a computer and enough furniture for our apartment, we have recreational equipment like camping gear, snorkels, and bikes…I could go on and on. The reason I think this distinction is important is that it helps us relate to certain teachings of Christ. When Jesus addresses the rich, he addresses us. It’s easy to act like we’re “middle class” and ignore those passages, as if they simply don’t apply to us. But for Amanda and me, we need to look up and tune in.

You have to decide for yourself whether or not you are rich and wealthy. Don’t compare yourself to just those around you, either. Christianity wasn’t began in the United States, and we need to have a broad world view when we consider anything related to it. We’ll give everyone a day to figure out if you are rich or not, then we’ll be back tomorrow to talk about what that means. There will be lots of scripture, so bring your Bibles. :)

January 14, 2008

The “Why” Series

We realized not too long ago that there’s not much in our blog explaining the reasoning behind living the way we do.

We recycle, we redeem food and other items out of dumpsters, we don’t buy new furniture, we try to shop only at secondhand stores, we are trying to have a smaller eco footprint, we refuse to follow the “American dream,” we don’t have cable and don’t watch a lot of TV (except for last week, as Amanda mentioned), we are peace lovers, and we try to share all our excess with our less fortunate neighbors worldwide.

We are far from where we want and need to be. We could live more simply, use less energy, and give away more. In all these things, though, we try to approach the issue not with legalism and judgment, but with creativity and fun as we seek out ways to implement our convictions into daily practices. And it is fun! Living simply hasn’t turned us into miserable, unhappy ascetics. On the other hand, we’re finding out how much joy there is in a lifestyle of “living simply so that others may simply live.” And finding alternative ways to recycle or “precycle” has been an exciting adventure, not a dull and mindless task of guilt-ridden necessity.

With all that said, we decided it would be beneficial to all parties for us to write a series of blogs on why we live the way we live. What motivates us to live simply? Consume little energy, or dumpster dive? Does it come from our peers, our rebellion, our frugality, or our disgust with the industrial / corporate world? Probably all of those things have influenced us. We’re all affected by others, by advertising, and by our upbringing. But we are going to be looking at why we do stuff, and we invite you to that discussion.

I mentioned that this discussion will (hopefully) be beneficial to all parties. It was already mentioned that we feel our archive of blogs so far hasn’t really done the best job at explaining our why behind things, so we hope to offer some explanation to our confused readers out there. The second party is us…we want to do this primarily to review and remember all of the reasons why we live differently. It’s easy to forget one’s motivation, even if it’s practically lived out on a daily basis. We want to strive to always do what we do for pure reasons, and this will force us to take a close look at our lives. In one of the most famous writings on love, the early apostle Paul said this:

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Ultimately, this points to the very basic reasoning behind all of it. Everything we aspire to do in our lives comes from a world view that, by faith, claims there is a loving God who wants us to live in unity with Him. Love God, love your neighbor. Without that, we gain nothing.

Hope you’ll enjoy the series! I hope it will challenge and inspire both you and us.

January 5, 2008

UFTW (Update from the Wife)

Filed under: dumpster diving,Just for fun — theburts @ 6:11 pm

Quick Update from the Wife!

 

We got to go to my parent’s last weekend. I went home Friday, then Daniel came Saturday. We had dinner with my dad Saturday night, then went bowling. Last time we all went bowling, Daniel scored a 253 or something crazy like that. So, my dad had to redeem himself this time! They ended up close to even after 4 games. On Sunday, Daniel and I cooked dinner for my mom & John for their Christmas present. We cooked for 3 hours! The menu was: chicken stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, & proscuitto ham, bacon wrapped green beans, and stuffed tomatoes. It was yummy!

 

For New Year’s, we had dinner with some friends’ of Josh’s, then went over to another couple’s house for the rest of the night. They had a nice fire going outside, though it was quite windy! We stayed there til a little after 12, then went to Heather & Jonathan’s for some card playing. Fun times.

 

This week, we’ve been complete lazy bums. We got Lost Season 3 for Christmas, and have watched an average of 4 episodes per day since Tuesday. While I don’t ever want to become addicted to watching TV, it is pretty nice every once and awhile to just sit and relax at home.. especially when it’s freezing outside. (Oh, it SNOWED New Year’s Day.. enough to give the cars a slight dusting. I was excited)

 

On the dumpstering side… we quickly hit up a “store” on the way home last night.. and ended up having some good finds. There are some things in life that you don’t really need, but would be fun to have, especially if they are free. One is long-range walkie talkies. We got one set brand new in the package, and then one more handset… so I’m sure we’ll come up with reasons to use these! Also, an electronic pepper grinder. Fancy Shmancy. Then, in an obvious voice from the universe that I need to start getting back into shape… a brand new ab-roller thing. It was in the sale paper this week for $20. Don’t know why it was in the dumpster since it was still in the plastic. And the other goodies… a nice knife block with one knife (Daniel is going to look for the others tonight), a transformer toy, 6-7 packages of dog treats, and the ever popular mystery cans. Maybe we’ll post some pics of us using the new toys.

 

And that’s the report from the Burt household.

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