The New York Times recently profiled an Oregon couple who winnowed their possessions down to 100 things, giving away most of what they owned and cozying up in a 400-square-foot apartment. The article discussed new (read: more cautious) spending patterns, spurred by the recession but potentially having long-term staying power. Americans are investing in experiences and leisure activities such as vacations and concerts, which contribute to their happiness in a way that the latest electronic gadget does not. " 'It's better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch' is basically the idea," says Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia.
The emphasis on owning less relates to the Christian virtue of simplicity. In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus reminds us to store up treasures in heaven, not on earth, while the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) warns against preoccupation with saving for future comfort. Biblical examples of giving away wealth and possessions abound, from Old Testament ...1