Minimalism as a Gospel Calling

I don’t often discuss my religious life on this site, but as I start discussing minimalism and my personal reasons for pursuing that lifestyle, my faith is bound to come up. I feel this is especially true given the fact that much of religion preaches the redistribution of wealth (in its many forms) whether or not that same religion actually practices it. In any case, I went to church last weekend and the sermon (the Catholic Church calls them homilies”) was about just that: giving to those that need (preferably through a Catholic charity).

The homily went there because the Gospel reading thematically drove the point. From Luke 3:11: [John the Baptist] answered them, He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise.’” The reading and the homily got me thinking about the Gospel expectation of minimalism. The idea is everywhere in the Bible. (For Gospel passages, I will stick to Luke and I will not repeat the passage above.)

I believe that the Bible and my faith dictate my minimalistic tendencies. Over time, separating the ideals of my faith from my approaches to the world around me gets harder, especially as some approaches are co-opted by hipster movements (Minimalism) or bastardized by consumeristic sentiments (Christmas).

Back to the point, the homily went about as far as I expect a homily will generally go, which is to say not far enough. The actual content of the homily aside, the point was that people should prepare the way of the Lord (as we approach the birth of Jesus) by following John the Baptist’s suggestion in Luke: if you have excess, give it to those that have need of it. The idea is an important one as evinced by the above biblical texts, but where the homily didn’t go far enough in my opinion is in the glossing over of the timeline in which we find ourselves: teeming in the excesses of the Christmas season itself.

People don’t want to be challenged to actually give away their things, especially not just after they have likely purchased more things. Instead, we often opt for the satisfaction that the idea was even spoken aloud. Or said differently, we don’t need to change anything about ourselves because being challenged is enough. I think most people leave the religion they grow up in because of that lack of follow through, the lack of action associated with the challenges they hear; or perhaps because the challenge itself is too challenging.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.