Thursday, January 31, 2008

Minimal.

Should I seek to be a minimalist? Not just for the sake of being a minimalist but for the sake of simplicity, the purging of possessions, and giving of what I have so that those who do not have might have?

16 comments:

justinwaldo said...

doues your minimalist theory apply to sleep as well? i see a good bit of your post are made not too long before i get up to go to work every day.

Joe said...

you could, but I think it's more a preference than a biblical standard or a necessary call for all. As simplicity takes on a much larger meaning beyond just how much stuff you have that you don't use. Just as waste has become a problem of many Christians and filling up our homes and schedules with clutter, I think eliminating things for the sake of being "simple" or for the sake of being the most minimal person ever, would do the same harm.

I could be wrong. As always. Good thoughts.

Travis.Bickle said...

travis - what do you have that the "have-nots" need?

joe - how (or why) is simplicity not a biblical standard? if it isn't - how do you explain the simple calling and lives of Jesus, the disciples, the early church, and Paul?

stephanie mary said...

I think minimalism is dependent on your point of view. What is minimal to you is most likely extravagant to the majority of the world's population.
So, you could be a minimalist in our society's eyes... in my opinion, unless that's benefitting others who truly have next to nothing, it's pointless. A show, almost.
"Giving of what I have so that those who do not have might have."
If that's the goal, then how could anyone suffer?

PS: Sorry about last-minute cancelling on watching Kyla. I may have Strep Throat. :(

Joe said...

Travis B-

I always have trouble writing clearly so let me clarify. Simplicity is a call we all have. But I am making a claim that separates minimalism from simplicity. I venture as far as to say if one wants to live as minimally as possible here and mount Vernon and sells sells his belongings, but it becomes about him and NOT for the kingdom of God, then what has been accomplished?

I am suggesting that we should put on the full meaning of simplicity and find ourselves scheduling our time more effectively, and not waste on rubbish we don't need or things that complicate life. If every Christian gave everything away to the poor, and left themselves with nothing, but did it for themselves or a new fad but not empowered by Christ it's not the gospel or the kingdom of God.

Like I said, I am just a raggamuffin wannabe sociologist open for more critique

Travis.Bickle said...

"If every Christian gave everything away to the poor, and left themselves with nothing, but did it for themselves or a new fad but not empowered by Christ it's not the gospel or the kingdom of God."

Joe - How do we know the difference?

"I venture as far as to say if one wants to live as minimally as possible here and Mount Vernon and sells his belongings, but it becomes about him and NOT for the kingdom of God, then what has been accomplished?"

Is it not about "him" trying to see, understand, and/or live in the "kingdom of God"? Do you have a specific "him" that you are speaking of? I just can't imagine that someone would become poor for himself, if he didn't care about the Kingdom of God and Justice - unless they had similar religious or secular ideals outside of Christianity - which I have not seen, but I imagine exists. It just seems to me that there are better ways to relieve guilt, other than giving your life away to be more or completely dependent upon God, like Jesus advises we do - like St. Paul and St. Francis did.

However, Joe - I do realize that there are many "new fads" (and old fads too) in postmodern Christianity to be skeptical of - and you are good to keep your eyes open.

Daniel Coutz said...

I could see a person doing this to appear holy or righteous to others. The Pharisee's fasted which is not a very comfortable thing to do, for the sake of appearing more holy or god-fearing than others.

Travis.Bickle said...

sure, but does that mean we shouldn't fast? and if there are these people who do shed (or have the willingness to shed) the comforts and securities of the world (possessions,401k plans, insurance, education, etc) to better love God and neighbor, yet to apparently glorify themselves - does that mean we should now be opposed to it?

obviously not.

Does Travis K. want to be a minimalist for the sake of simplicity, for himself, or for others? I think he wants to address the needs of others, instead of his own. Why would he want to do that?

Maybe the question should be - why be simple? and, what does it mean to be simple, historically in scripture, and now?

Lee Y said...

Travis,

You should not be a minimalist. There that was simple. No, truth is you wouldn’t really be “purging” your possessions, when you give what you have to those that don’t have. You’d just be redistributing them. After a bit, those that “do not have” would “have” and then you’ve just transferred your current dilemma on to them. Then they consider being a minimalist on their blog and consider giving of what they have to those who do not have (which would be you) so that you may have. In the end you’d both be responsible for destroying the environment as you drive your respective cars all over the place, taking what you “have” to those that don’t. Shame on you for not being more environmentally minded.
:)

Joe said...

I guess I said "him" earlier suggesting that "him" was me several months ago, going from being aware of my consumeristic lifestyle, to doing something about it, to striving to have as little as possible, to questioning certain ministry oppertunities I had, simply because I would have to drive.

I stopped thinking about others and My Lord, and my thought turned inward on how people would look at me and see me as this great minimalist, who looks so much like Jesus would.

that's why I take the stance I do, because I am less "worried" or concious about expendatures and my list of "things" and more worried about the people that are around me and being ready to meet their needs however I can.

That's my experience.

Travis.Bickle said...

"I stopped thinking about others and My Lord, and my thought turned inward on how people would look at me and see me as this great minimalist, who looks so much like Jesus would."

I hear what you are saying, for sure, Joe. That happens to most of us when we are reacting to an opposing force, as opposed to reconciling it, and then moving forward with The Truth. I spent most of my twenties there.

"that's why I take the stance I do, because I am less "worried" or concious about expendatures and my list of "things" and more worried about the people that are around me and being ready to meet their needs however I can."

Could you not (or should you not) be equally conscience about both?

Memberships said...

No. Did Jesus in the New Testament or God in the Old make this explicit command to all? (He did direct one to go and sell all his possessions.) Does this apply to all? I don't think so.

The issues with materials is not to let them become idols or to become more important than Jesus. The problem with giving everything away to become a minimalist is the negative effect it could or would have on others. Give a man a fish or teach him to fish? When non believers look at the attire of Christians wether it be three piece suits or a female wearing a bun does he think, "Is that required of me?" Perhaps they would say the same of a minimalist?

I think we need to give of our time and service first. Then possessions as we are lead at various times. To simply empty our store of wares eliminates the potential of serving needs as we encounter them?

Without rich people, who would fund charity hospitals, private universities, etc.

What happened to the talents? Some grew? Did that anger Jesus? OH, they must have been non-minimalist.
A minimalist would have given them away.

Ryan Schmitz said...

Don't you think the Minimalists should have picked a shorter word to describe themselves? I'm mean come on now 11 letters. I'm sure those letters could have been put to better use. The Maximumists picked an 11 eleven letter word also, but the Rich, the Wealthy, the Gluttons and the Spoiled all used less letters than the Minimalist.

I will conceed that at least Minimalists are better than those awful, inconsiderate, 12-letter using Materialists. But to be honest, aren't Minimalist obsessed with Material anyway (specifically the lack there of, or the dependance on material). Technically that obsession over material would make a Minimalist a Materialist.

11+12=23 (Oh no!)

Joe said...

That brings up a new thought, the idea that we have more than goods to offer our fellow man, but also services. Maybe some are in need of "things" I currently posses (I want to be careful not to call them "my possessions"), but I know for a fact that there are students on campus and in my dorm who are where I have been in my struggles of the past, and I have something to offer them.

Travis,

I think we are saying the same thing, I'm just saying one can be conscious of both, and I would call that "simplicity" and would call the extreme, that I have taken, "minimalism". I am conscious of my belongings, and do try to keep what I have as long as possible, and be thankful not wasteful of what i have.

Maybe we are agreeing but disagreeing on the definition of the word.

Travis.Bickle said...

Joe - I think we do agree, for the most part - we are just in different places. You are actually many steps ahead of where I was in undergrad - working through those ideas and implementing them in some form or another. That's great.

Overall, however, in response to everyone - how can you argue that Israel, Jesus, his disciples, the Church in Acts, and Paul were not minimalist? Isn't this the story we are supposed to continue living? When believers or non-believers see us, should we not represent The Story, and reconcile ourselves to it? Who funded the ministries of Jesus, the early church, and Paul? Was it detrimental to them, that there were no rich people to fund their private universities? Why is our culture influencing our understanding of scripture, rather than vice-versa? Is this a significant reason that we need to keep reforming the church, splitting off from one another?

If Jesus and Paul were not truly concerned with being a minimalist, why would they both recommend to not get married, to not start a family? Why would Jesus call the disciples away from family? Is it not because you can better serve the Kingdom of God without the time, energy, resources, and worry it takes to be married and raise a family? That is much more subversive than simply purging possessions - and you (memberships) would say he only commanded one person to give "everything" away and follow Jesus? Should we not read between the lines?

and have you (memberships) researched the parable of the talents? do you know the context? Do you understand the symbolism - that it actually has nothing to do with money?

Mike said...

What the heck is wrong with having things? I mean did Jesus and Paul and any one else beside Jesus that you want to imitate and raise to the elevation of influence as Him not use every means that they could get their hands on to spread the Truth of The Gospel? Jesus told the rich fella to give his things up for (insert your favorite commentary doctrine here). Do you not think if Jesus had the mass media availability that we have now that He would use it? Would the crucifixion not have been on pay per view? Not necessarily at the bill of Jesus but do you think He would have opposed it being on a High Def screen mounted on the temple wall? Come on now, there are things that each of us "need" to do to make our intimacy with Jesus more enriching and to each one as He wills. Did Jesus/God/Holy Spirit/ Trinity/ Godhead not use everyone to make His point from the front cover to the back of the Bible? Creating a culture where we all follow the same pattern of living in its most intimate and superficial ways does away with the creativity the God instilled inside of us each as a part of "The Image" (imago-dei) or whatever else you want to call it. He is about diversity, granted not in purpose or objective, but surely in method. Why else would He have chosen John "the beloved" Peter "the hard headed one" Paul "the murderer" david "the kid" Sampson "the male whore" and the list goes on. If you are called to sell your things then by all means put it on ebay and give the money to the zoo so they can get more animals or find ways to eliminate the green house gas from all the donkey.... But realize this while you are on your way; Is the reason you are doing so because God told you to, or because you have such a low self worth that you have not fully come to the identity of who you are as a Child of God and know that your purpose is not in things or in the lack their of, but in the manner that you avail your self to your creator.

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."