Friday, March 21, 2014

Hoarding in the Bible

            One of our local characters is an aging trust funder who has been featured on the TV show “Hoarders.”  He was one of their rare failures and now he’s about to be evicted from his apartment in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan.   What makes his story even more poignant is that he was the son of two well-known, very glamorous celebrities of the 1950’s.  He grew up in a mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast, and never lacked for material things.  Now, because he can’t let go of his stuff, he and his five cats will soon be homeless.

"The Man Who Hoards" by James Tissot,
from the Brooklyn Museum
           I’ve always thought of hoarding as a disease of modern times, a product of our affluence, so I was surprised to come across “The Man Who Hoards,” a painting by James Tissot, inspired by Luke 12:16-21, “The Parable of the Rich Fool.”  French-born Tissot (1836-1902) was a popular artist (Degas painted his portrait), known for his portraits of beautiful women.  In 1885, he experienced a rebirth of his Catholic faith and travelled to the Holy Land to study the people and landscapes.  The result was 365 gouache illustrations of the Life of Christ.  These detailed paintings, so human and yet so historically accurate, are as close as we’ll get to photographs of the Holy Land in Christ’s time. 

            In this case, we’re looking at a rich man who faced a dilemma:  his harvest was so bountiful he had nowhere to store it.  His solution was to build a bigger barn.  “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’  Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” [Luke 12:20-21]

            The lesson, Jesus told his disciples: “Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.  For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.. . .” [Luke 12:22-23]

            Time for some spring cleaning!  I’m ready to clear out my closets now.         

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very timely article, Sarah.
Funny, but I've been on a purge binge myself. I usually wait until I find the perfect place to donate-- where things will do the most good. And a need always appears.
I enjoyed the biblical reminder.