August 14 - 20, 2006


  Simplicity is a moving target

There's nothing like a household move to reveal your true relationship with worldly possessions. Take it from me, in the midst of moving from the duplex where I've lived since 2002.

See, four years ago brought me a new start in life, a fresh beginning. I imagined centering my new life on the principles of simplicity, non-consumerism, prayer and discipline.  It was kind of Henry David Thoreau meets Thomas Merton. I vowed not to clutter my life or my little house with things that would distract from the spiritual life.

Turns out, I've got work to do. 

As I packed yet another carton of somewhat recently bought-but-not-read books, I was reminded of the promise I'd made first to read all the books I'd already bought, and then, in the future, rather than buy new ones I would borrow them from the library. Let's just say I'm a sucker for the used-book bargains on

Then today, for example, I spent hours packing up stuff just from the kitchen. The four-year-old bags of black-eyed peas, navy beans and garbanzo beans I pitched into the trash reminded me of my resolve to eat lower on the food chain, taking in valuable protein via legumes rather than animal protein. A good vow. I guess that would require opening the bags, though, huh?

And with every closet I empty, every cabinet I open, every drawer I dump out, I see just how much stuff has crept into the little 1,100-square-foot house. Like dust balls under the sofa, the stuff seemed to come from nowhere and accumulated at a pace too gradual to notice.

The bottom line is, living a non-acquisitive lifestyle takes hard work and discipline. More than I had thought. I wonder how the "shop till you drop" people ever stand a chance.

So now, as I'm moving, I've got bags of stuff to donate to the thrift stores, as well as bags of stuff for the trash collector. My new home is a freshly renovated parsonage more than double the size of my old duplex. So now, as I make another fresh start, I am determined, this time, for sure, to be pure and non-consumerist, running my house with more discipline than a Franciscan Abbey. This time, I know I can do it.

 If I can just stay off of

--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

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New This Week:

Sacrifice for Growth
Church leaders always answer, "Of course" when asked if they want their congregation to grow. "The real question is are you willing to accept the changes needed.  Will you sacrifice stability, tradition, the status quo for flexibility, creativity and change? Most congregations say they want to grow but ONLY on their terms.  Click here for this essay by Tuck Aaker, stewardship columnist for ELCA Stewardship resources.

Stewardship Prayers
Here are some fine prayers for any church occasion involving stewardship -- a  liturgy for Stewardship Sunday, to open or close a cottage meeting, to go with a sermon on giving. Includes a nice prayer service called "Stewardship: A way of Life," as well as stewardship prayer for children and other innovative prayers. Click here for "Stewardship Prayers," posted on the website of the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod.

What Makes a Volunteer Tick?
I deal with so many people who give so much time for which they do not get paid, helping others and meeting human need.  And if there are any thank you's  or kudos, they are few and far between and so removed from the initial impulse to help that I doubt that they would be a motivating factor.  Click here for "What Makes a Volunteer Tick," this week's essay from The Rev. Dana Reardon. To read previous columns in her archive, click here.

  Giving extravagantly
"We are people of great abundance, and we can afford to give extravagantly. Thousands of children still die each day from hunger in this world. How can we continue to deny an abundance that makes dieting a higher priority for us than searching for food? ... But the most important reason of all to give extravagantly is because we must give that way if we want to participate in the extravagant love of God, the giver of Jesus Christ." Click here for "Giving Extravagantly. Prophetic words in an essay by Margaret G. Payne, Bishop of the New England Synod. This week's Treasure Chest offering.