Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Gospel Poverty"

I thought I might start the 40-bag trash challenge again. I got rid of 4 bags last week at the thrift store, and 2 big bags of trash. So I'm at 6 right now. I have 2 more big bags of trash and 2-3 more thrift store bags. So that will bring me up to 11.

How it works:
1. Pick what size of trash bag you want to use.
2. Each week day for eight weeks fill one bag (or equivalent). It can be a bag of stuff, toys, clothes, papers – anything, a box of books, an old TV. Anything that you can count as clutter is fair game.
3. Update on your blog how it goes.
4. Have fun.
I probably won't do it exactly like that -- as usual, right? : ).
I've made a sort of schedule for cleaning based on this chore breakdown.

  • Monday/ Thursday -- put things away, vacuum.
  • Tuesday/Friday -- dust, scrub, arrange.
  • Wednesday/Saturday -- declutter, organize.
So Wednesday and Saturday would be the main days I would be actually disposing of things, and so to keep on schedule I'd like to get about 2 bags discarded each time. I hope this schedule simplifies my cleaning routine enough so I get it done more consistently.

I would like to blog more about Happy Are You Poor -- a very thought-provoking book. View here and commentary here. (Paddy finds the title very puzzling). But I'm afraid it will sound either self-righteous, if I talk about what I'd like to change as a result of reading the book, or extremely lame, if I'm honest about where I am now. Hmph. Maybe I'll just do it anyway.

More commentary -- a Catholic one here, and it appears it has reached evangelicals as well, as an alternative to the so-called Prosperity Gospel. I don't think the message is complete unless it has reference to those who are more needy than most of us are. I remember the last time I read Father Dubay's book I mostly missed the message because I wasn't thinking about the reference of poverty -- the truly poor, in fact destitute people in the world. I think it was because our family is sort of poor by American standards. There aren't many people around me who don't have more money to spend than we do. Even if I do get rid of our junk, how's it supposed to be of help to the people in Haiti, for instance? Well, just because I can't think of an immediate answer to that doesn't mean that I should just preserve the status quo. Father Dubay says one of the motives for trying to be more "poor" is readiness. Maybe I have to start before I can see where to finish.

I can't help but mention that when I am dumping all these bags of things into the trash or even into the Goodwill pile, I feel rather guilty. I think that is one reason I have been willing to "host" these things I don't use for so many years. It's so hard to admit that they aren't being used and that I shall have to fill up a landfill or make more work for a thrift store attendant (I always feel particularly guilty about that for some reason). So now that I'm processing these long overdue feelings of guilt, I will possibly be a little more careful next time about what I bring into the house. Anything that comes in that's not necessary will be more of a burden to get rid of when it's not used, or not used frugally but just becomes excess.

(Keep in mind that a lot of these things cost pennies or were handed to us by well-meaning others -- STILL it seems like a bit of a problem. There is just TOO MUCH).


  1. Oooo, please please write (more) about Happy Are You Poor! That book has changed my life, and I would love to hear your take on it. Like you, I am still a work in progress though! Maybe I'll read it again during Lent. I think I need some more inspiration.

  2. "Watching what comes in"! Now that is a whole new concept!!

  3. I did a little decluttering of the school/stationery areas in January - fun! Now I want to tackle the games cupboards!

    Our cleaning routine?

    Sun - Friday- laundry, tidy ups pegged to other activities, anything else we might have time for or see needs doing.

    Saturday - Sat clean ( bedrooms, baths, plus - more thorough floors and dust if time), declutter if time, extra cleaning job ( windows or cars etc) of time.


  4. Hi Willa,

    We are blessed at our church with a twice annual garage sale that takes that stuff, and through many of us sorting and manning the stalls, sells it very cheaply, and takes the money and uses it to support a mission school, birthing unit and disability work in a village in East Timor. We send over about $1000 NZ each time. But it also frees me up to allow the stuff I don't want to dump to find a home, and to replace needed items cheaply. It always amazed me who is looking for what, in a positive way.


  5. Valda, that's a great option. I'm not an organizer-type person but I almost would like to start something like that in our local church. It's true "one man's trash is another's treasure". Some of the things I'm getting rid of are actually good stuff, it's just that we're not using it and I feel bad about hoarding it like a dragon with golden cups and jeweled bracelets.

    Amy, I know you have been simplifying for years -- I love the inspiration on your blog on that topic.

    Leonie, I HOPE to get to the point where once a week cleaning would be enough.... but maybe not, we get so much mountain dust and woodstove ashes around our house.

    Erin, yes, a revolutionary concept : ). I am a natural magpie so it's very haaard not to acquire things, especially when I get a bargain : ).

  6. I'm in on the 40 trash bag challenge. Took me longer to get round to posting about it than it did to get rid of the first few bags. Is that a good thing? Thanks for the inspiration :).

  7. Willa, I love Fr. Dubay and love that book and I, too, would love to write more about it, but worry about the "self righteous sounding" stuff, and the lameness. :) Off to read your other commentary ....


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!