A Few Thoughts on Theology, Car Ownership, and Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#468)

Yup. That's me in the above photo. Very rarely do I post pictures of myself on this blog but here's one. And what's even more odd is that it shows me getting into a car. My son took the photo of me getting into a Buffalo Car Share car last weekend. But as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.

If you've been to this blog before you know a few things about me. One of them is that I've voluntarily given up car ownership a few months ago, and that I choose to walk or bike whenever possible. If it's out of (my) biking range I take a bus or use Buffalo Car Share (which I joined around the same time I sold my truck).

Well, you may ask, what does have to do with theology (or at least my personal theology)? Plenty. Firstly, at a most basic level, living simply (using a bike instead of a car, for example) helps me be more in touch with our Source, the Divine within me, you, and each one of us.

But there is another relevance when discussing (car) ownership. What is ownership and do we really "own" anything? The house I live in, for example, is nearly 150 years old; Civil War era. I'm just one of many who have occupied it (click here to see what I mean). I'm sure there will be more; I just happen to live here now.

To take this a step deeper, think of our bodies themselves. Do we really own them? Is this all we are...just flesh and bone? I think not to both questions. We just happen to occupy them at present moment. Okay, some of you reading this may have atheistic views, and that's fine; I can respect that. Personally I believe that there is more--way more--than we can comprehend. And while I consider myself a practicing Christian--meaning I try to follow the teachings of Jesus the best I can, but usually fail miserably--I also believe that all major religions carry the same truth and that all lead to the same outcome and that all are pure at their core if you look sincerely within them and within yourself. Is there an afterlife? I surely don't know. Likely, I like to think, that after an undetermined period of time, rejuvenation, and learning we are offered a new body and life to live (for additional learning). Reincarnation. And this is not outside Christian doctrine because the original Christians did in fact believe in reincarnation (please do not send me hate mail), as do many other religions.

So what does any of this have to do with car ownership? Well, overtly maybe nothing. But underneath, maybe everything. My point is that whatever your views we will all eventually leave these bodies...we can't take them with us. So to bring this back to a more materialistic level--car ownership--they (cars) are just things, like everything else, and you can't take them with you. You, if you have one, are simply occupying it.

I have to admit that in a culture where our very core is embedded with cars it was difficult if not a bit scary to renounce ownership. But I did and hope never to have another. Since not having a car of my own I have only used one on three occasions, but the first was mostly out of novelty. And on all three occasions the car share worked seamlessly. When I needed a car to get me outside my biking distance I had one.

I don't believe that I have to "own" everything that I use. I can share some things, even big things in my life. And this is what I was thinking about as I pedaled home tonight carrying my son's guitar after his music lesson. It was a hot evening. I had a couple beers across the street while I waited for him. And as I pedaled home into a slight headwind with a warm breeze on my face it felt good. I felt free.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

Urban Simplicity.


DanT said…
A nice post Joe.

The tyranny of "stuff" is a real problem in our society. Voluntary simplicity is the way forward.

Nick said…
"Ownership" is indeed a silly concept - but difficult to dispense with in practise. I once had occasion to get rid of very nearly everything I owned - house, car, furniture, everything except for a plate, cup, knife, fork, spoon,cooking pot and bed (see, even then I couldn't bring myself to dispense with absolutely everything!) - but I look around me now and see that over the years most of it has come creeping back somehow. Careless of me, I guess.
the_big_smile said…
It was very late today, when I read this post. Over here it is 02:16 Am right now.....

But this post was really interesting, because christian normaly don't believe in reincarnation. ;-)
But It think, you are right! We do reincarnate.

And yes, we don't really own anything.

Did you ever try, to leave allmost everything behind for an uncertain amount of time?

Back 2000 I left home with a big suitcase and the streetbike I had to go to another town to work.
I didn't know for how long I would stay there.
In the end it was about three month and it really was a big experience to me to live with only the really basics. Some clothing, some books, some tapes and a cassetteplayer and of course my bike.

It was an experience, that really changed my life!

It was three month of just working, reflecting and biking!

But on the other hand today there is a lot of stuff around me, that I think I need. Do I really need it?
the_big_smile said…
By the way: We not only share our birthday but our hairdress as well! ;-)
Joe George said…
Dan...I agree, but it is difficult isn't it?

Nick I also agree, but again it is so difficult. I look around my house and I likely have a lot less than some but still way too much at the same time. Interestingly, some of the happiest times of my life were while I was in college many years ago (yes, I'm sure youth had something to do with it) but I had very few attachments, physical or otherwise. Everything I owned at the time could pretty much fit into a duffel bag and old steamer trunk.

Stefan...Nice to hear from you, it's been a while. That sounds like it was a great experience. And yes, I've noticed before that in addition to our common birthday we also share the same barber :)

Also, to any that are interested...if you haven't yet you should check out writings by the Peace Pilgrim. I just put a link to her sight on the sidebar under For The Inner Journey. Her entire book is available online and they will even send you a hard copy for free. It's really inspiring (I think).