Mo Money Mo Problems

I’ve wanted to read the book A Severe Mercy for a long time.  Okay, maybe like 2 months.  But I really wanted to read it.  It’s kind of random, but the book seems to be a modern classic.  C.S. Lewis is loosely connected…are you surprised I was interested?  But actually, he’s not the reason.  Anyway, on the back of my copy it says that A Severe Mercy is about “Sheldon ‘Van’ Vanauken and Jean ‘Davy’ Vanauken [who] were lucky enough to discover that radiant love so often written of in books, so seldom found in real life.”

This is the first of at least a few posts that I will surely publish as I read and reflect on this book, but man, this couple is…unique. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately.  Probably because I don’t have much of it.  Now that I’m paying rent (and wondering how I’ll pay for grad school in the Fall) I’ve gotten serious about budgeting.  I’m naturally frugal, but now I’m taking out cash right after I get my paycheck and allotting a specific amount to every area of spending.  Like a real live grown-up!  But not having money means not having things, and not having things makes you think about how much you really need them, and whether you need them at all.

And that’s where A Severe Mercy comes in.  One night, early in their relationship, they are discussing (in an interlude during a makeout session, mind you) what might divide lovers and conquer love.  They decided that stuff can get in the way; possessions.  At such a young age, they were wise enough to see that when you over-value what you own, it ends up owning you.  They vowed to live free of such burdens, thus buying cheap stuff that they won’t mind seeing broken or stolen or scratched.  The funny thing is, they really followed through with this idea.  Van recalls the time when they got their first brand new car, which they proceeded to pound “severely with a hammer to make it comfortably dented.”  What!?  My first thought was, I do not know anybody who would do such a thing.  My next thought was, I wish I were that free.  Not just free from possessions, but free from conformity to the thought patterns of this world, that say, “You must have many possessions, and you must guard them with your life, and you must mourn greatly if something happens to them!”

Maybe reading this book will help me as I try to shake loose the desire for more more more in the midst of the more culture in L.A.  But it also might help me daydream too much about an idyllic relationship spent cavorting around islands on a yacht.  Omitting, of course, the tragic ending.


2 thoughts on “Mo Money Mo Problems

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  1. I recently stumbled upon your blog, and I’ve been enjoying reading through past entries.

    Faith has always been hard to come by for me, no matter how greatly I desire it at times. I noticed that you read a lot, and you’ve mentioned writing and journaling as well. Do you have any suggestions for good books when one is just starting out on a spiritual/philosophical path?


    1. Hi Emma,
      Thanks for reading my blog! You just opened up quite a topic for me on spiritual/philosophical books. I immediately began thinking of so many books at the same time! So here is a quick selection of books that have helped to shape and guide my spiritual/philosophical journey. This list is in no particular order and is in no way exhaustive! But I would recommend any of them (and have blogged about most, I’m sure).

      1. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
      2. The Wisdom of Tenderness by Brennan Manning
      3. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
      4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (especially The Last Battle)
      5. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
      6. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (not actually that formative for me, but still a great read for the spiritually interested)
      7. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
      8. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (daily devotional)
      9. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
      10. Just to round it out, I want ten books on here. I think I’ll say The Shack by Young, even though it’s a bit controversial and to me, not very well-written. But it does address a lot of the core issues.

      Again, not an exhaustive list and I’m sure the second I hit “submit reply” I’ll remember 10 more. 🙂 But this is a good post-in-the-making. I read some of your blog, too. Fun! I also enjoy Jhumpa Lahiri. Let me know what you think of any of these books if you read them!


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