Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I recently read an article posted on facebook by my brother-in-law about a man who has given up money. He lives in a cave. Mice crawl on his body when he sleeps and bugs suck blood from under his fingernails. He cooks in soot encrusted pans. He eats grasshoppers, dumpster food, and wild plants + the occasional, no strings attached, hand-out. And he is happy.

He maintains a blog from the library. He has no computer in his cave, nor much else worldly.

In his blog he talks about how Jesus said to give up our possessions, our money, and follow him. He says that true Christians will take this teaching seriously.

This is something with which I struggle. A lot.

I feel that money is a trap. I feel it is an illusion, just as moneyless dude feels it is. I don't even need to say I feel it, it's simple truth. People decided that certain things would be worth something, and so they are. Period. It's hideous, really.

There has been a lot of discussion about this very topic at The Refinery, my church, and conclusions are difficult to come by.

I hate money. I hate that my husband works in a job that he doesn't really like to make money to pay for a house we're trying to get out from under and bills and for things we don't really need.

The issue I have with giving everything up, I guess when it comes right down to it, is trust.

I feel like giving up money is a very scary thing. I feel like I would be screwing my kids over completely if I gave up money. But is that the truth? Is that reality? Maybe I would be giving them everything.

I knew a family in Ireland, one of the host families while I was there for a cross cultural study during college, who gave up everything. Within a week, without asking for ANYTHING, they had everything back and more. House, money, clothing, food, you name it. The dad took that as meaning God blessed what they had done, but that they weren't meant to live without anything, they were meant to do ministry in a different way. I think this is valid.

I admit that it is pretty much simply fear that keeps me from getting rid of everything. Money is a crutch. Money is something very human. It allows us to feel like we are in control of our lives. It allows us to feel like we can do our duty by saying that we trust in God, when the fact is, we simply don't.

Other things to ponder, however - the guy who lives penniless has a college degree. He held down a job, etc. How would my children get a degree if I were living in a cave with them? Who knows. I guess it's something you can't really question if you're really going to do it. Really live off the grid in several literal senses.

We have some land that refuses to sell that we own free and clear. We keep hoping it's going to sell so we can get out of all of the debt we're in and start with a clean slate.

Then what?

I'd like to have no debt. I'd like to get rid of a lot of things.

Freedom really truly comes when you have less and less. I think the more you give away, the more free you feel. The more free you are.

I need to ponder this a lot more. This I know.

I don't think this has much to do with feminism, but maybe it does. Equality. In the bare bones sense, can't exist in our current money grubbing society where jobs are identities. If we would all just give up the money thing, things would be a whole lot better for everyone. But we're too selfish for that. Much too selfish for that.

If we would just share everything amongst ourselves, which is what I feel is the true Christian calling, no one would have to do without. But we don't trust each other enough. We're afraid someone will take advantage of us, of the system.

My pastor told us a few weeks ago that there is a commune in Chicago that has been in existence for twenty years or so living in this cooperative manner - in a truly Christian way.

How can I pilot such a program here?

How can we really lead truly Christian lives on our own?

We need each other, and yet it is each other standing in the way.

The church is so broken.

There are so many things we could do if we would just trust one another. Just truly be family and stop the pretense. Why can't we be Jesus to each other? Why can't we do what we're supposed to be doing? It kills me - the place we've gotten to. How church is just a societal norm. A thing we do on Sundays. A building that stands empty during the week except for preschool and the soup kitchen. Our church does more than most, but it isn't enough. I want to try an experiment.

We own this house in Callaway. Why don't we move some people in there and see how it works, true cooperative living? If people are afraid, then we should do something small to start and see if it's amazing. It's not exactly showing faith in God, but it's a step in the right direction, right?

Or heck, they have these houses that they sell at one of the major developments around here that are ENORMOUS. More than enough for four families. Let's TRY it.

I used to think that communal living was SO not for me. But I've learned that if everyone is courteous and respectful of one another, it can work. Okay, I need alone time. How nice to have three people who live with you willing to watch your kids. Willing to let your kids play with theirs, while you read a book at the library in relative peace?

The other things I've been thinking is we could put a tiny house on that piece of land we have. Just live with less as a family.

Michael loves designing homes. He has already designed this amazing tiny house that we could live in as a family. We'd just need to bite the bullet and do it.

Possessions eat your life. It's true.

I want to talk to someone who is doing what this guy is doing. I want to talk to people from the Chicago co-op. I want to do something for real. I'm so tired of just sitting here, rotting. I'm tired of hearing people tell me how rich I am, how rich Americans are. How everyone else lives with so little and we are so greedy and selfish and just simply pigs.

I hate that people say that and I look around and feel like I don't have enough. That I need more to get by. It's prison.

I want to figure out the answers. I want to do something REAL for a change.

I want to live in the present.

It's like penniless dude says in his blog: "Debt is past. Credit is future. Nothing about money is present. Nothing."


Pete said...

I hear you. Focus on money can be such a bear. Have your Refinery peeps bumped into any of the "affluenza" material (

A thought-line I've followed from time to time:
I wonder about the emphasis on individual rejection of X as opposed to a societal rejection. There's such an emphasis on a total-community return to God-focus in the Bible. Do you ever wonder if personally giving something up is not doing anything much?

For example, we can decide to ignore money for a while but the love of money is such a driving force in our society that we still can't really get away.

It would be so much easier if we could run this place from a bird's-eye view, like Sim City, instead of from down here amongst the trees. Then when we changed things they would really and truly change (until the next radioactive meltdown or alien invasion, that is...).

Missy said...

Thanks for all your awesome thoughts, Pete. I agree with the Sim City thing - sometimes I think about God as someone sort of managing Sims...but those darn Sims have free will and just won't listen!

Anonymous said...

i'm Judy. start smaller, missy. when one belongs to a church, why is there a need to own a lawnmower? living in commune-ity is hard. we like having what we want, when we want it. and this is happening more and more each day. let's start by being kind to one another. then, let's take a risk, and ask someone for help. then take a bigger risk and tell them we can't pay them back. now we "owe" someone. can you do it? let's start small and be beholding to one another and be available to one another.

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