Storage Units are the New Modern Shrine: I find it remarkable that when people get too much stuff, they don’t think about getting rid of it or giving it away but renting storage units. We can’t let go. We can’t have less. We need to protect what we have. But this is deeply problematic for the Christian. Are we not to travel lightly? While having material goods is not wrong—the God of the Christian faith created the material order and declares it good—Americans are addicted to stuff as evidenced by the irrationality of “I need more space to store stuff” rather than “I need to get rid of stuff and give it away.” Only in the West is this “logical.” On this topic, Michael Brautigam writes: “The average US-American household today apparently counts around a staggering amount of 300,000 items. We own so much that our homes are spilling over with things and we are now building storage facilities in prime locations for our inner cities to hoard our superfluous belongings. . . . These storage facilities represent modern shrines to things, worship centers to the material” (Flourishing in Tensions). And what example does this set for our children?
Granted, I am not saying that there are no unique circumstances where one can be useful (moving overseas for a time, etc.). But overall, we as Americans just keep building more space, renting more space, and finding more space to put stuff. Why does it not occur to us to give it away? To scale down? And then, our piles of junk get passed on to our kids, and what do they do? Probably feel guilty about getting rid of it, and then the “Keep your stuff close, don’t let it go” mentality also gets passed down. Brautigam goes on to write: “possessions, we tend to think, give us a sense of security.”
And [Jesus] told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16–21)