in Tall Tales

Selling my stuff to give the money to the poor is a pain in the ass

Recently, I began a process of giving away a good many of my books because I have been convicted of my participation in the consumption-accumulation of capitalism, and of the way in which accumulating goods is a way of hoarding wealth that is condemned by both Scripture and a good deal of the Christian tradition (cf.
However, as I have engaged in this process, I have realised that how we go about giving is just as important as giving itself. In my last post on this topic, I mentioned that I had given away about 150 books, but those books had all been given to my peers and my family members. So, yes, I was giving, but I had created a distinction in my mind between deserving and undeserving recipients (i.e. I wanted the books to go to people who valued them, and who would read them).
However, the more I read from the Christian tradition on the topic of charity, the more I realised that this form of (exclusive) giving was condemned by many. For example, Cyprian of Carthage, along with the early Franciscans, argued that giving exclusively to friends and family members was sinful and unacceptable. Thus, I realised that I should focus on giving my books to the poor specifically, and get rid of the distinction I had created in my mind between those who were deserving and those who were not.
Therefore, given that things tend to vanish rapidly from the alley behind our house, as the binners and various other people pass through and take anything of value to reuse or resell, I thought I would just leave a box of books in the alley, and whoever passed through could take them and either keep them to read or resell them. So, I put about 25 books in the alley while we were having a nice spell of weather. A few days later I checked and, although about half the books were gone, the other half had been ruined and scattered around the alley (given that these were books by the likes of Wittgenstein and Baudrillard, it was all a little hard for me to take!).
Of course, I then realised that I was simply trying to get the poor to do the dirty work — work that I was too lazy to do (i.e. take the books to used books shops to sell them). I also realised that we aren’t necessarily called to give our possessions to the poor, but are called to sell our possessions and give the money to the poor. So, I packed up the next 30 books and began to hit up the places that sold used books. What a pain in the ass. I had to visit a bunch of bookshops all over the city in order to get rid of those damn books. The ones I couldn’t sell in the bookshops I had to put on craigslist, and then I had to arrange meetings with the people who were going to come and pick up the books, and so on and so forth. Now, I’ve gotten rid of about 210 books, and I feel worn out.
The process of trying to sell what you have and give the money to the poor, is actually annoying as all hell. It’s much better to not accumulate things in the first place.

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