Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Good Riddance to My Magazines...

"We have been brainwashed to believe that bigger houses, more prosperous business, more luxurious gadgets, are worthy goals in life. As a result, we are caught in an absurd, materialistic spiral. The more we make, the more we think we need in order to live decently and respectably. Somehow we have to break this cycle because it makes us sin against our needy brothers and sisters and, therefore, against our Lord. And it also destroys us. Sharing with others is the way to real joy." (Ron Sider in Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger)

Years ago, I bought a copy of a newly published magazine, Real Simple. It was printed on rough, nonglossy paper, as if to make its case. I thought those early issues had a few ideas that were good. There were features on real people, living unextravagant lives, doing real things. The recipes were often really tasty. The magazine was sort of interesting to me, at first. It didn't take long, though, to be increasingly struck by the fact that Real Simple wasn't simple. It was a magazine full of things a person could buy to "simplify" their wardrobes, their kitchens, their homes, their lives. It should have been called Real Marketing.

Over the years, I have accumulated too many magazines. I subscribed to Bon Appetit and loved looking through it, but I rarely cooked anything from it. I got a free subscription to Sunset magazine (the magazine of western living), and I like reading about interesting places in the west. I live here-- it's my home, and I'm proud of it. I like looking at the homes, the food, the ideas in Sunset. But what am I really getting from this except an urge to go somewhere, to make changes, to update my home, to spend money? And Martha Stewart. Why in the world do I have some of her magazines?! I am not even the kind of woman who does crafts. I like the look of Martha's food and recipes, but I haven't made more than two of them over the years. And Martha's style is much more refined than mine. Then there's Cottage Living. I like the casual feel of a cottage home, and it was fun to tour some of the homes in this magazine's pages. But, again, what's the point, really?

When I think about it, all I've gotten from the magazines is a sort of restlessness, a germinating discontent, an urge to buy things. Styles change so quickly now, and the magazines are here to let me know that it's not yellows and greens and reds any more that we want in our homes (not in the same old shades anyway... and didn't I know that orange is the new red?!), but brown and blue (or is that passe now?), or all-white or all-neutral with a few spots of color thrown in, or whatever it is that is the color trend in homes this week.

I don't need this or want this. So, yesterday, I made bundles of magazines, tied with string, and put them in the car to take to the "give-away" table at the library. It makes me happy to have them out of my sight. And I am giving my magazine baskets to Goodwill. I don't intend to buy magazines any more. They clutter my mind, my time, and my home. They make me feel discontent and give me an urge to buy more stuff and make unnecessary changes. And, for heaven's sake, I've never even really liked them all that much!

If I want to read a magazine, I can check it out of the library, but I think I'll mostly avoid the home magazines for now. I think the one magazine I'll miss having is Saveur, and our library doesn't carry it. But I was thinking that I can give a gift subscription for Saveur to the library, and then I, and many others, can check it out and read it. And it won't clutter up my home.

Not everyone wants or needs to take the steps I'm taking in decluttering my home, and I'm not at all saying they should. It's just that, although I've always lived a fairly simple, streamlined, uncluttered life, I'm finding increasing freedom in cutting more of what-- for me-- is excess. I want to be free from things that unnecessarily take up my time, tempt me to unnecessarily spend money, clutter my life and home, or point me in a direction I don't want to go. And with that freedom, I want to be more available to follow the call God has on my life.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works."
(Ephesians 2:10)


I'm adding this later to quote Aimee (not my daughter) from the comment box because I like what she said. I mentioned in comments that I had hoped this post wouldn't offend anyone and that people would understand where I'm coming from. Here's what Aimee had to say:

"I totally know where you are coming from and am not offended :) I love my Better Homes and Gardens and find the beauty and ideas stimulating and refreshing...it's a nice front porch escape for me with some Southern Sweet Tea :) And I love Country Living magazine too...both inspire me and give me fresh ideas for adding simple touches to my home that aren't costly. I often have to give up reading homeschooling books/magazines, b/c they stir up discontent in my heart about where the Lord has me personally right now and where He has my children. I feel like I will not have true family life or joy unless we follow a certain educational lifestyle. We all just need to rid ourselves of that which doesn't inspire and encourage towards Phil. 4:8...and for each one of us it is something different. "

Aimee, I hope you don't mind me adding this to the main page. Truly, whatever doesn't lead us toward what is good needs to go, and, yes, for different ones of us, this is different.