Thursday, October 30, 2008

Decadence

Last night again I had some time to kill. I stayed in King of Prussia and would have blogged this then but my hotel wanted me to pay for the internet. Being unplugged for a night isn't a bad thing though.

Anyway, I ate in the KOP foodcourt something of a mix of Cajun and Chinese Food. Interesting to say the least...cajun chicken with fried rice and chinese vegetables. Anyway...

As I was walking around and looking at all of the high priced shops, people in expensive clothes walking really fast for no apparent reason with bags hanging from their arms, the giant two story advertisements for clothing and jewelry it was all very strange to me. I felt so disconnected from it all. It seems like a long time since I was tuned in to this sort of consumer attitude. There wasn't even any temptation to buy anything at all. In fact, and this may be part of a growing "Fransican" consciousness in me, but I genuinely felt sorry for the shoppers. As I looked around all I saw was decadence, and I just coasted through the mall. Oh, I went into my favorite stores such as the Apple Store and Brookstone. Yes, I sat in the massage chair. Traveling is tiring after all. The new model was $5,000. People actually buy these things and make payments on them. This new one had a hand massager, which was too much for my taste.

As I made my way around the mall, which I used for exercise after dinner, I decided to stop in and take a look around Brooks Brothers as I passed by which is sort of a higher end clothing store. Shirts and sweaters were all almost $100. I saw one special that said "choose any two shirts for $199".

It was at that moment that I said to myself, "If I am ever rich enough to shop here, I'm dropping everything and applying for the monastery." That thought is only partly in jest. Its not that buying things is inherently bad. Its not that buying a $100 shirt is always decadent, especially if its a gift or for that one or two nice suits you own. I think we all know that. Its a matter of moderation.

I know my limits. Like most people, I have a temptation to things. Clothes really aren't a problem for me as I have said here before, but big TVs and other toys are. Anyway, the point is not the store or what I would buy but that money but that having it at all would be a temptation and be a serious detriment to any progress I may have made in the spiritual life. And so if I am ever rich enough to drop that kind of money without thought I'll know its time to rethink priorities.

The point of life is to get to heaven. Surrounding ourselves with things that give us the illusion we are creating it here on earth is a big lie we tell ourselves.

After I got to KOP yesterday I made my way to the local Catholic bookstore and bought something there for $35, the Christmas/Advent Volume for the Liturgy of the Hours. Literally, I pined over the decision for 20 minutes as I browsed other things there. But as I walked around the mall I realized that there are people walking around who can drop $50 on anything they want without a care.

This is also a matter of justice. We throw away more things in this country than a great part of the world will ever see or be able to afford in their entire lifetimes. Its actually shameful, this decadence of ours. And to think, while spending $4 for a coffee at Starbucks, we have the nerve to complain about the economy. Makes you think huh? Made me think.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton