Prisoners To Our Own Appetites. Now THAT Is A Story

Jail cell

This is an amazing account from Mark Buchanan. It is a strange story that illustrates how we are often prisoners to our own appetites.

“Thomas Costain, in his book The Three Edwards, relates a historical episode from the fourteenth century. Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, fought bitterly. Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him alive, and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle.

“But it was no ordinary prison cell. The room was reasonably comfortable. And there was no lock on the door—not a bolt, not a padlock, not a crossbeam. Raynald was free to come or go at will. In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that he walk out of that room.

“Only Raynald couldn’t. The door was slightly narrower than a typical door. And Raynald was enormously fat. He was swaddled in it. He could not, with all his squeezing and heaving, get himself outside his cell. He might more easily have passed a camel through a needle.

“So in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he had only to do one thing: lose weight. That would have come easily to most prisoners, with their rations of bread and water.

“It did not come easy to Raynald. Edward had disguised a great cruelty as an act of generosity. Every day, Edward had Raynald served with the richest, sauciest foods, savory and sweet, and ample ale and wine to boot. Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and larger. He spent ten years trapped in an unlocked cell, freed only after Edward’s death. His health was so ruined, he died soon himself.”

Buchanan’s book “The Rest Of God” is delightful and full of great content and excellent writing. It explores something that is oddly missing from many discussions of the Sabbath, the issue of rest.

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 165-166). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own

21 Reasons

Here is a list of 21 factoids to “prove” (if you had any doubts) that Americans suffer from possession gluttony.  We are obese from stuffing our lives full of empty possessions.  Our closets, drawers, and garages are crammed with decades of detritus.  A few of these statistics seem suspect to me, but overall the point is clear. We have too much stuff.

What is the problem with having this much stuff? 2 things stand out. First, it is unique in our own history. By the standard of any previous generation we are all hoarders.  So much for being on the “right side of history.”  Second, it is bad for us.   Owning this much stuff, the way we own it, has adverse effects on our daily routines, our financial bottom line, our mental health and our relationships.

“19. Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list”

#19 above stood out to me because I have experienced it, and I have family members that face this daily.  We have so much stuff that we forget what we have. We are afraid to “throw it away” because it has value. And we might need it some day.  But unless we become full time archivists of our own stuff there is no way we can remember and/or locate what we need.  The result? We go out and buy another one of the very thing that we need, but already own. And this happens because we can’t find it.

And by the way, even if we could keep everything catalogued… is that really what we want to spend our precious attention on?

Consider this. The size of our homes has tripled, and they still aren’t big enough so we have to rent a storage facility.  I think we should make it a weekly habit to throw things away or donate them. Just this week we took 3 boxes of old housewife and decorations to the thrift store. They were good items, they have value. But we realized they have a negative value to us. Someone else can use it and the rescue mission can benefit from the resale.  Win. Win. Win by losing unnecessary stuff!

via 21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own.


Photo courtesy of Kevin Utting. Some Rights reserved