11 July 2007

Current Utopia - Above Consumerism (synchroblog on Utopia)


What is that word?
Here's part of the dictionary definition:
1. often Utopia An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
2. A work of fiction describing a utopia.
3. An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.

I was originally going to refer to the post below and make some quick reference to how I'm pursuing Utopia sailing the high seas, surrounded by dark energy, and enjoying the questions of life.

But Billy Joel changed that (or rather added a bit to it).

Yes, of all people...

Billy Joel

You can find the inspiring lyrics to "Movin Out" here

Let's go with definition number 3 above since true Utopia is impossible in this life anyway. But that shouldn't stop us from trying. Which begs the question, what is stopping us from even heading in the right direction. Think of Utopia as the Kingdom of God.

I find the answer that is stopping us, is the very thing that we are running after. The pursuit of happiness through the desire to accumulate wealth.

Alan Hirsh calls it the false god of our day. I agree. It permeates every part of our lives. When I lived in Los Angeles we discovered that status is determined by what kind of car you drive. In Colorado, it's more about the house you own. Since we drive a Hyundai and live in a college apartment complex our status is something we don't have to worry about.

And that's the point.

I'm not raging against those who drive a Beemer and live in 4000 square footer. Not at all. But we all are forced to answer this question, has our pursuit of 'stuff' blocked us from utopia?

We've all heard that wealth doesn't make people happy.
So why do we keep running after it?

The most freeing thing for me was to give up our corner lot 4 bedroom house (which we rented anyway) and our second car (which was also a piece of shit) so that we could be more free to live above consumerism and be more like Jesus.

Yeah, it sucks when we live by faith some months because we don't have a cushion. And it sucks sometimes when we only have one car and no yard for the kids to play in.

But we are closer to Utopia than before, because the only way to bring the Kingdom on earth is to live like Jesus. In short, I have more joy, with less stuff. I have more utopia from giving sacrificially than from buying the new _________________ (iphone, HDTV, second car, etc).

I am fully aware that not all of us are called to sell their houses and cars and move into College Apartment Town USA. But the point is - shouldn't we be at least asking the question?

A man comes to Jesus, driving his new SUV, and he says "Teacher, I tithe every month. I lead a mens' Bible Study. I go to church every Sunday - I'm even on the elder board and volunteer as an usher. I send money to charities around the world. And I pay for my kids to go to a Christian school. How can I get utopia?"

Jesus answers, "Sell your SUV. Spend time twice a month at the mission where people look and smell different than you. Give up an elder meeting once in a while to go spend time with those in a nursing home. Give your kids the knowledge of how to live like me in the world, by being in the world. And give your entire savings to AIDS relief in Africa. Then will you truly have utopia in this life."

And the man went away sad for everything he had done for Jesus was wrapped in consumerism.

Steve Hayes at Notes from
the Underground

John Morehead at John
Morehead's Musings

Nudity, Innocence, and Christian Distopia at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Nowhere Will Be Here at Igneous Quill
A This-Worldly Faith at Elizaphanian
Bridging the Gap at Calacirian
The Ostrich and the Utopian Myth at Decompressing Faith
Being Content in the Present at One Hand Clapping
Eternity in their Hearts by Tim Abbott
Relationship - The catch-22 of the Internet Utopia at Jeremiah's Blog
U-topia or My-topia? at On Earth as in Heaven
A SecondLife Utopia at Mike's

Mrs. Brown and the Kingdom of God at Eternal Echoes


Pete Aldin said...

Nice take on the rich young ruler. My 2 boys and I just did an online calculator that showed us we live in the top 1% of the wealthiest people on earth. My younger son instantly wanted to give some of our money to an aid agency. Who was I to say no?

David said...

Wow that's awesome about your son!
I was going to include that statistic, but I was guessing top 5%.


sonja said...

Sweet post ... good bit to think about there.

I have a video for you to watch that may give you some a chuckle!

David said...

wow, awesome site Sonja. That's hillarai..hillia..hiliar..funny!

paul said...

u so tope! :)

Jeremiah said...

The U.S. Census Bureau has some good stats too. In just 2005, if a household made over 92k, the were in the top 10% of income earners in the U.S. - never mind the world.


Erin said...

I wish we (my family and I) could learn to live *lesser* lives, but sometimes it seems so impossible to do with the standard of *things* we have already accumulated - we just don't know how. Then again, maybe that's just a cop out.

David said...

There's certain things at this time I can't 'let go of' like a decent stereo and cable TV (not to mention the Mac laptop I'm typing on). But I didn't think I could have gotten rid of the other stuff either and once I did, it felt great. I felt free.
I even see myself giving up my stereo someday. Although with the information age we are in, the cable and laptop would take a bit more grace.

The point is, is to be open. I have no idea Erin if it's a cop out for you because I don't know you. But I can generalize and say that most people can't give it up because they are coping out. Surely not everyone's called to accumulate stuff to relate to people who accumulate stuff. ;-)

Wrestle with God, and see where He leads you.