Monday, December 12, 2005

Convenience and Myself

Last week, I wrote about convenience and the church. Should the church try to be convenient for people in order to bring them the gospel?

Convenience. Convenience makes the world go round. Every week it seems you can find some new advertisement for a product that you should buy because you will have the ability to throw it away sooner than usual. Mops? Disposable. Digital cameras? Disposable. Cell phones? Disposable. Why buy one when you can buy them over and over again and create some garbage in the process?

I listen to books on tape all the time when I drive. I travel a lot, and books on tape help the time go by much faster. I typically listen to 'lighter' fare than I would read in printed form - John Grisham, Maeve Binchy, Mary Higgins Clark, Janet Evanovich. Most classics, most 'heavier' literature isn't quick-paced enough for keeping my attention while driving - with notable exceptions like the good-in-any-medium Barbara Kingsolver. My local library only has a limited collection of books on tape, so I'm always having to try new authors and hope I like them.

Recently, I listened to Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic. It's in the style Bridget Jones' Diary, which I thought was hilarious. In fact, it is so much in the style of BJD, that the parallels are ridiculously too many, with the exception that Kinsella's main character, Rebecca, is a shopaholic. Rebecca, as I was listening to the book, drives me crazy. Her spending habits - the focus of the book - are just ridiculous, indulgent, unbelievable. It was hard for me to be sympathetic for such a heroine, with so little self-control, so little thought about others, so little though even about how harmful her own actions were for herself. She spends hundreds of pounds a day (she's British, like Bridget.)

But, then I started thinking about my own spending habits. I can't afford, even in an over-spending way, the name-brand stylish spending sprees that Rebecca engages in in Shopaholic. But I'm just as bad, in my own way, and I'm not a fictitious character in a light novel. I remember back when I started as a pastor, after having been a financially struggling student for so many years. My new pastor salary, three times what I'd ever made in a year as a student, seemed huge to me. I'd never be broke again! I'd never be able to feel like I didn't have enough with this huge salary. Granted, I hadn't yet given a lot of thought to the whopping taxes I'd be paying as a so-called "self-employed" clergy person. But still, I knew I would be pretty well-off.

Two-and-a-half years later, I find that I often spend my money ridiculously. I make a budget, and then ignore it in favor of spending my money for convenience. For me, it's eating out. I hate cooking. I'd rather buy something ready-made. I take what I eat very seriously as a moral and ethical issue - that's why I've been a vegetarian for 8 years. But I can't seem to expand my scope to remember the moral/ethical issues of where I buy my food, how I spend my money, etc., in those same day-to-day choices.

When I see things happening like the US government continuing a failure to take global warming seriously if it means somebody's profits might go down, I think: how can we be so short-sighted? But when I buy a soda that comes in plastic cup that I will throw away instead of drinking some of the soda (or water!) that I have at home, choosing convenience over my small piece of the pollution pie...
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