Kingdom Thrifting

Is it weird to speak of thrifting in a spiritual way?

It’s become more popular in the last few years with hipster trends rising at alarming rates, but beyond jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s fun, thrifting has spiritual significance as well. Here’s how.

Shirt - silk from Banana Republic, $2. Wool cardigan - also $2. This may not be the most attractive face, but this picture was taken in Scotland, so the coolness makes up for it.

Shirt – silk from Banana Republic, $2. Wool cardigan – also $2. This may not be the most attractive face, but this picture was taken in Scotland, so the coolness makes up for it.

1) It’s good stewardship of your money. I can buy a pair of Guess jeans at Guess for $100, or I can buy them at a thrift store for $5, and theoretically give the other $95 to someone who needs clothes more than I do. In a culture that demands a different sensational look every day, we can easily spend thousands of dollars building a trendy wardrobe. OR we can go thrifting and afford to experiment, mix and match, and just maybe fall in love with a timeless ugly sweater that we’ll still be cuddling with when we’re 90. Like this one. —>

2. The money goes to a good cause. Most thrift stores are nonprofit and support a variety of causes, from homelessness to domestic violence to pet shelters to overseas missions. Don’t advertise for Abercrombie and thereby advertise elitism and discrimination; advertise for a cause you believe in. Let your wardrobe declare that you are an advocate for justice.  Your money becomes about so much more than your own appearance. Plus, as I said, it gives you a chance to experiment. You decide that the new shirt doesn’t really match your style? Put it back in the donation bin and rejoice that your ‘wasted’ money fed a starving child.

3. It does not perpetuate slave labor. As Brett Dennen sings, “Slavery is stitched into the fabric of my clothes.” Slavery didn’t end with the Emancipation Proclamation. We in America, the top 1% in the world who think we need more, more, more, keep slavery alive with our demand for low prices, with blood diamonds and the latest technology and clothes made by suffering people in India and Bangladesh and Pakistan. Our self-indulgence is oppression to others. Yes, the clothes you buy in thrift stores were probably originally made by slave labor when they were purchased new, but buying second-hand clothing removes you from the market of supply and demand. The more clothes we buy new in stores, the more the stores will order in bulk, and the more labor is required to meet the demands of the consumers. Especially as clothes are made more cheaply and wear out sooner, and as demand becomes greater for an updated wardrobe each season, there is far more clothing being produced than there needs to be. You can simply take yourself out of the equation by choosing to shop second-hand.

And if you think you can’t live without the latest styles, think about it as a creative spiritual discipline and give it a try. After all… “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

This fall, I chose to update my wardrobe from thrift stores — and for $25, I got a total of 9 shirts (2 with the tags still on), a pair of nude pumps in perfect condition, and a nice pair of boots. The pictures below depict a few of these outfits, but if you don’t like the hipster/ugly sweater style, don’t worry, that’s not all that thrift stores have. In the past I have purchased Guess, Banana Republic, Express, BCBG, Free People, J. Crew, etc. However, I would encourage you to try on something ugly that you normally wouldn’t. You might be surprised how cute it can be when paired with leggings and boots.

What my roommate affectionately calls "the tablecloth shirt." Just a basic lightweight buttondown -- pair it with any color tank top and coordinating scarf. I also got a very similar linen one originally from Gap -- each for $1.25.

What my roommate affectionately calls “the tablecloth shirt.” Just a basic lightweight buttondown — pair it with any color tank top and coordinating scarf. I also got a very similar linen one originally from Gap — each for $1.25.

$1 -- cotton and rayon blend buttondown, perfect for fall. It looked a bit old-ladyish on the rack, but once I put it on with a pair of dark brown leggings and tan boots, I got more compliments on it than my new Express sweater.

$1 — cotton and rayon blend buttondown, perfect for fall. It looked a bit old-ladyish on the rack, but once I put it on with a pair of dark brown leggings and tan boots, I got more compliments on it than my new Express sweater. Go figure.

Okay, I can't pull off the serious face tree pose. But nothing says fall like cuddling up with a soft ugly sweater and scarf.

Okay, I can’t pull off the serious face tree pose. But nothing says fall like cuddling up with this soft ugly sweater, leggings, and a scarf.

Tan 3/4 length sleeve shirt for $1? Basic? Perhaps, but also very soft and very versatile.

Tan 3/4 length sleeve shirt for $1? Basic? Perhaps, but also very soft and very versatile.

So add a pair of $2 boots...

So add skinny jeans and a pair of $2 boots…

...and you've got a pretty cute fall outfit.

…and you’ve got a pretty cute fall outfit. Thanks to Julia Elliott Photography for this collection of pictures.

Also this dress was $2 (Free People).

Also this dress was $2 (Free People).

And this one.

And this one.

And many others as well. So go visit your local thrift store as the cold weather approaches. Spend less, give more, and take a stand against a consumerist culture. UGLY SWEATERS FOR EVERYONE!!

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Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Back to the Basics: Revisiting a Traditional Interpretation of the Unjust Steward

This is the second paper I wrote this semester for my New Testament Exegesis class on the Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16:1-13. Click on the link below to access the PDF.

Back to the Basics: Revisiting a Traditional Interpretation of the Parable of the Unjust Steward

It’s pretty lengthy, but the gist of it in blog-lingo is this:  A lot of times we tend to shrug off this parable because it’s just plain hard to understand.  How could the master possibly commend the manager when he’s just been swindled?  Well, Jesus’ listeners felt the same way about the parable of the “good” Samaritan or the “righteous” tax collector.  Those parables don’t shock us because we don’t have preconceived notions of what Samaritans or tax collectors should be like.  But because we still find dishonesty offensive in our culture, this parable retains its full shock value. “For the first time, we ourselves must truly grapple with the idea that an unrighteous person may, in fact, be better than a Christian at some aspect of spirituality.”  Therefore, we should seek to make use of what we have been given to glorify God.

And I wrote about a lot of other stuff too, like where the parable ends and how it relates to the larger context and all sorts of widely debated scholarly issues.  If you can wade through the Bible major jargon, go for it.  If you actually read it all, leave me a comment and I’ll give you a cookie.

a day at the park with crazy love, part 2: risk

Continued from part 1:

“Do you want to see God more than you desire security?”

Dang, Francis Chan. You have a way of meeting me right where I am…and taking me a step further.

Yes. That is what I want. I want to surrender everything that lures me unknowingly into sin through a false sense of safety, including money.

Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that I just stumbled on Hebrews 13:5 — “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” I believe it; and I only pray I can believe it enough to let go.

“Christians today like to play it safe.” And that’s the real reason the modern American church blends in. Who ever heard of someone changing the world without risking everything to do it? “Playing it safe” lands you permanently in an office behind a desk. And that’s sure as heck not what I want for my life.

To make a difference requires me to take a leap of faith.

So, God…take my hand.

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Confessions of a Creature of Habit: Rich Girl (Selfish Girl?)

Don’t let the title mislead you. I’m a college student, after all. I don’t own a Porsche. But by the world’s standards, I’m rich. And so are you.

The nagging on my heart has been constant, continual. The gentle reminders from God: “Daughter, you have yet to surrender everything.”

“God, I have!” I want to say. “I’ve given you my plans. I’ve changed my major. I’ve even turned my love life over to You. Do You think it’s easy being single and not knowing what I’m going to do with my life?”

Yeah, that doesn’t fly.

Because there’s one area of my life I just can’t surrender.

Money.

Yeah.

“God, I seriously can’t give that up. Especially if I do end up single forever. I have to be able to support myself.”

I never thought I was a materialistic person. For real. I value people more than money, right? Until I started wondering if Jesus really was exaggerating when he told the rich man to sell all he had and give to the poor.

Books like Crazy Love and Radical really don’t make you feel good about your economic status. It’s hard to stomach. I’ve wrestled with it for months.

You see, my possessions are the one safety net I have left. Because it’s true, I have pretty much forfeited my life’s road map and my relationships to God.

And so that leaves me. Me and my image. Me and my stuff.

And I buy a lot of stuff.

I try to buy clothes on sale, or at the thrift store. But even so I don’t need half — or even more than half — of what I have. They won’t even all fit in my drawers. It’s ridiculous. But still I “need” more, more, more: oh, this shirt is so cute, I “have” to have it. I don’t have a scarf in this color yet. The heels on my white shoes aren’t high enough, I need a more awesome pair. All these silly justifications.

I try to be thrifty with makeup, too. I find the best quality for the lowest price and use coupons. But even so, the contents of my makeup bag is worth an astounding $75. That doesn’t even count shower products and nail polish.

(This is getting embarrassing.)

Tonight I spent $8 on a stick of purple eyeliner. Why? To look awesome.

Yeah. So that I will have awesome purple eyelids while kids go to bed hungry.

(It seemed reasonable at the time…)

The system disgusts me.

Wait, no…I guess I disgust me.

BUT. I have a plan. An experiment, really.

From now till the end of February, I am going to see just how little I can buy for myself. No clothes. No “fun makeup.” No unnecessary food. No books. Not even mp3 downloads. Pretty much, if it appeals to me, I’m going to avoid it at all costs (no pun intended). Starting…now.

Here goes.

Better go write that check for church tomorrow that I’ve been putting off. I’ll delay the sparkly blue eyeliner instead.

Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 3:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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