Thursday, September 08, 2016


I realized a while back that I was trained to be a hoarder.

Each of my older relatives: parents, aunts, grandparents - wanted to know what I collected.  I had to have an answer.  Otherwise I was an incomplete person and buying birthday gifts for me would have been unnecessarily tricky.

So. I began to think of things I would like to collect.  Here is a sample: tea cups, old books, Belle Barbie dolls, candles, pens.

In addition to "collecting", people set me an example of saving things in case I would need them, or my children might want to.

Books romanticized saving, describing heroines discovering forgotten treasures stored in attics.

We went to garage sales and learned that items have resale value.  Why throw them away when your kids can auction them for profit at an estate sale in a hundred years when you're dead?

The Antiques Road Show showcased items whose value appreciated the longer you saved them.

So, when I tell myself I don't need something; when I drop off a load of things at the Goodwill, and don't even get paid for them; when I evaluate which things in my possession I would actually want to save from a fire, and find a rather short list of necessities - I'm doing pretty well, overcoming this narrative of hoarding.

I'm trying to get better at being a simple, more-Millennial person.  I have friends who teach and encourage me.  And now, since I've identified all these influences, I can devise a rebuttal:

As my friend says, "We collect friends, not things."  Another friend says that "Stores are for storing things."  I don't even have an attic, and it is not quite so romantic to think of finding treasures in the trunk of my car.  My last three garage sales taught me that the time and work it takes to sell my own junk yields a low hourly wage.  Antiques Roadshow has started airing episodes where they show how much the item's appraised value has changed, from the original airing to the rerun, and a lot of them have gone down.  (Beanie Babies are not a craze anymore.)

I don't know if there is a moral reason to hoard or not, but here was a glimpse into my journey to becoming less encumbered.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Today I was thinking about heroes.  So often our favorite super heroes can save everyone.  Doc Ock tosses six different people six different directions, and destroys the brakes on a speeding train.  Spider-Man shoots his webs to save the stragglers, uses his super strength to stop the train, and saves the day.

In that same movie, Spider-Man decides to come out of retirement to save a little kid from a fire, and is disheartened to hear afterwards that some "poor soul" on a higher floor didn't make it out.  But this isn't shown as an inevitable edge to the protagonist's reach; I get the impression that we're supposed to believe that if only Spidey hadn't been taking some time for himself, both victims would have made it out alive.  

Sometimes the crisis of the plot is the hero deciding whether to save one dear friend or to save a larger group of people (and somehow, predictably now, the dear friend  heroically sacrificed is saved in the nick of time anyway).  Other times, the super hero makes a glance at the crushing weight of collateral damage: fighting evil is a destructive war. 

How often do the heroes in our tales face the fact that their powers are, however impressive, limited, and they cannot save everyone?  What if we saw heroes not only facing this, grieving this, but standing slowly - like a weight-lifter, only the weight is borne in the heart, bending shoulders -  standing, straightening, squaring those shoulders, and going out with all the zeal they had yesterday, to save the ones they can, to face defeat again and again, to still care about every one they can't save the same as they care about the ones they can, and still to try? 

Today I was driving to an abortion clinic, to stand outside among such heroes, who spend day after day watching most of the moms they encounter go right on ahead and end most of the lives the sidewalk counselors are trying to save.  This is a heavy burden.

It is not all discouraging failure.  Yesterday, a couple changed their mind, and rejected the violence they had intended.  Would Spider-Man bear up against those odds: one rescued for dozens lost?  These people do.  By the grace of God, they are real heroes. 

To God be all glory.