Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Luxury Goods

I was giving myself a little pat on the back last week for having put up 150 total entries on this blog and, in the process, becoming a little more exacting and careful about things like spelling and punctuation. Then I noticed something. I had invented a new word - "Scrren". This wasn't even hidden in the text somewhere. It was in last week's title! DOH! Yes, it was supposed to read "Screen". Maybe I should start to offer candy to everyone who finds a mistake. Maybe not.

Once a year we receive a catalog in the mail addressed to a former resident of this address. Who could say why it came in May this year? Maybe it had something to do with Wall Street's troubles of the past year. It does come from New York, after all.
This catalog is full of high end pens and other writing instruments. Maybe it's not surprising that you can spend more on a pen than on a new tennis racquet. In fact, the catalog allows you to spend over a thousand dollars for certain fountain pens, a device I'm not even sure I could successfully use, being left-handed. Add the chance that I could simply misplace it and it's easy to conclude that I will never spring for one of these little status symbols.
But I have to admit that some of them are quite beautiful. One uses braided horsehairs on the grip. They even offer to do it using hairs from your horse if you will kindly send a few dozen from his/her tail. But there's no such offer using hairs from your dog or cat.
I suppose the average American will publicly disdain interest in luxuries of any kind. Still, isn't it fun to look? Leather coats, antiques, watches, bold-colored suits and neckties, or art? I'm just scratching the surface here. There's almost nothing that can't be had for much more than what average people would usually pay. Bottled water costs more than gasoline. Add an air filter to your home and you're even paying for what you breathe.
This leads to the question: Is there anything wrong with this? I suppose the short answer is: not if you can afford it. But I don't think even that covers the question adequately. The Bible tells us pretty emphatically that coveting something that we don't have is wrong. Coveting is wanting something too much, even if you can pay for it with what's in your pocket, and even if it's a 'good" thing to have, like a pet gorilla that's been rescued from a cruel fate in the jungle. Scripturally speaking, when you are too loaded with things, you've crossed your own personal line into covetousness, from which the road back may be long and painful.
Few of us get through life without the coveting bug infecting us with unreasonable affection for luxuries of some kind. That's how the luxury industry, in all its forms, stays in business. If the capitalist credo is "find a need and fill it", the luxury purveyor says, "Find a person's 'coveting point', provide what's wanted and charge whatever the market will bear." By the way, have you seen our fabulous collection of..........?


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