On Being Counter-Cultural

estimated reading time: 2 minutes

I’m frustrated these days. Okay, okay. I’m usually frustrated. But lately, I’m especially frustrated.

There’s this preacher-guy named Michael Frost, whom I respect quite a lot. A couple of years ago, he lectured a room full of professional Christians about how we should be leading “questionable lives.” That is, if we’re truly following Jesus, our lives will look so completely bonkers to people around us that they’ll be asking us why we’re behaving so strangely. I’m talking about unreasonable generosity. Irrational compassion. That sort of thing.

Well, I cannot shake the phrase “questionable life.” I want to do that. I want to be that.

Related to this is my obsession with The Minimalists and their war against consumption. I’ve been talking with Jack for quite some time about selling our home and building a much, much smaller one—for the purposes of releasing resources of time (not as much stuff to manage) and money (not as much stuff to pay for). Then, we’d be able to give away that excess time and money.

This should be easy.

It is not easy.

Subdivisions have minimum square footage requirements. There are lots in the country that don’t have those sorts of restrictions, but you know what they do have? Stupid asking prices, that’s what. Or an Interstate for a front yard. Or well water, and I’m just not there, okay?

And yes, there are some modest homes in older parts of town, but most of them need a lot of work, which means we’d end up owing the bank as much money as we do now. Plus, the affordable ones sit on tiny lots, which means Jack can’t build his garage. And that’s a big deal, because it’s not just a garage; it’s a workshop from which he’ll do all sorts of tangible good.  

If we’re not careful, at the end of this deal our lives are going to look exactly the same… just a few miles down the road.

Honestly, I’m fighting my own consumerism, too—not just culture’s. I’m tempted by Trulia listings that are “just a bit bigger” than I wanted and “just a little more money” than I’d hoped. I’m dumb enough to drive by them even, which allows me to fall in love with them. And then when I ask myself, “Is that a questionable home?” and the answer is, “No,” I get mad. Because I want it, and I shouldn’t, but I do, and I can’t have it.

Until recently this was all just kind of a “what if.” But then we went and sold our house, you see (on contingency) a whole year earlier than we meant to. Which is great and wonderful and we couldn’t be happier because we love the family who’s buying our place, and it’s all worked out so perfectly for all of us. Except for the whole we’re-going-to-have-to-move-in-with-my-parents thing because we can’t seem to find a questionable place to land.

This shouldn’t be this hard. Culture doesn’t appreciated being countered.