2011 – the year of societal disillusionment?

•30 December 2010 • 1 Comment

I’ve been reading ‘Counterfeit Gods’ by Tim Keller recently. It’s a brilliant book, on which I might write more in the future (or at least when I finish it) but I got to page 106 and realised I had to blog about it. I’d been thinking of writing a post about trends I see happening in 2011 anyway, but this focused it and made it easy for me to decide what to pick out:

It is too early to be sure, but it may be that in light of the massive financial crisis of 2008-2009, the same disaffection with capitalism may occur that happened to socialism a generation before.

I firmly believe that this is already the case, and will be even more so in 2011.

I think we have already seen the disaffection, even anger, at the ‘capitalism at large’ that is the most visible outcome of the financial crisis. Specifically in the UK; for example the physical attacks on Fred Goodwin’s house in 2009, and the UK Uncut movement targeting Vodafone and Philip Green in 2010. Where do we go from here?

It is said that true change starts with yourself – “be the change you want to see in the world” as Gandhi said. If 2009 and 2010 were years of corporate change, perhaps 2011 will be the year of individual change. In some senses it is reactionary – many people are fearful of losing their jobs, owe more money on their house than it is worth, and as a result are seeing greed and consumerism for what they are.

So I do think we will see ‘societal disillusionment’, with people turning to any number of things. Hopefully not depression. But things like the activism we have seen in the UK recently, the minimalist and location-independent lifestyles, and perhaps even the Tea party movement in the US.

There are two problems with this that I can see.

1. The lingering individualism

Keller references a book by a Harvard professor of economics, Stephen Marglin:

Marglin’s point is that modern economics have become ideological, conceiving human beings as interest-maximising individuals who don’t need human community, who define themselves in terms of how much they can afford to consume, not their roles in a complex of human relationships. Over the last four centuries, this economic ideology has become the dominant ideology in much of the world.

Sounds like a great book! If you’ve got a copy of it, let me know? As I touched on when discussing minimalism in an earlier post, individualism and selfishness can be prevalent even when behaviours change. You can be a selfish consumer, you can be a selfish minimalist. Changing behaviours alone won’t solve problems. This is a critical theme of Keller’s book, and he articulates both the why and how far better than I can:

The way forward, out of despair, is to discern the idols of our hearts and our culture. But that will not be enough. The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one.

2. Where is God, and where is the church?

Here’s the truth – God is always there. God is right in the midst of whatever we’re going through individually or as a society. If there is societal disillusionment, the church should be prepared to be the first place people look for an answer. But we think we won’t be, and the truth is we’re probably right. How genuinely saddening is that?

Mark 16:15 – He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.

The gospel is the answer! We as a church need to check ourselves. I would bet that consumerism is as prevalent in the church as in secular society, if not more so. So what is going on?! People are going to come to church looking for an answer, only to find the one thing they know to be wrong is staring them in the face!

How do we change? Well here’s the answer-

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

I think there are two distinct challenges- firstly for the individual and for community. If the dominant societal ideology has perpetuated the neglect of community, surely now is the time to figure out what true community looks like. But it has to start with the individual. Jay Pathak says “If we’re not growing in our own life with Jesus, a lot of what we do as the gathered people of God is lost. It doesn’t translate – we don’t connect.”

Be the change you want to see in the world. What does that look like for you in 2011?

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How to spend absolutely nothing on clothes – The 2011 Zero-Budget Challenge

•20 December 2010 • 4 Comments

Whether you’re among the millions of people who set new year’s resolutions or not, I’d like to invite you to take this challenge –

at the end of 2011 to have not spent any money on clothes for the entire year.

Here’s how it works:

1. If you want to buy something, sell old clothes first to raise the cash, then go ahead.

2. Gifts are exempt (you can be bought clothes and buy clothes for others – this includes if you’ve got kids)

3. No credit allowed – ie you can’t buy stuff then make it up to zero by selling stuff.

That’s it – pretty simple! Kat and I have been doing this for a while now and it’s a lot easier than it sounds. For instance, I needed to buy some new shoes (£19.99) so sold three pairs on eBay – £11, £10.50 and £2.20, making more than enough money. Easy!

Admittedly this may not be suitable for everyone. I can think of two or three people I know who either spend so little on clothes that this wouldn’t be feasible, or just plain don’t care about image, that there would be no benefit. For those guys, maybe a one-in-one-out challenge is a better idea, if anything. However for the vast majority of people I think it’s both doable and valuable – you probably have more clothes and shoes than you need, whether you admit it or not. I count myself among that.

At this point you might be thinking – why? This sounds like a lot of hassle. It is. And that’s the point!

You won’t be able to impulse buy.

You won’t be able to go on shopping sprees.

You will spend less money.

You will end up asking yourself ‘Why am I buying this?

You will end up with less clothes.

I’ve found that much like getting rid of our TV changed more than how I watched stuff, doing this changes more than how I buy clothes. I don’t have as many clothes (though I still have too many) and I don’t think as much about what I’m going to wear – when you have less choice, it pretty much follows.

To be honest, this is actually a fairly short-sighted approach to clothes shopping (or consumerism in general). It doesn’t address issues such as labour practices or environmental concerns. For example, you could sell a brand name jacket for £50 and go and buy a whole wardrobe from Primark. Don’t do that. But I encourage you to give it a go – it’s an easy way into seeing what minimalism is like, and it may lead you to more questions. Not only about clothing but maybe also about possessions, materialism and money in general.

What do you think?

Ps – if you’re interested in how to sell your clothes (or any other stuff) let me know and I’ll point you to some resources or write about it in another post.

A few brief thoughts on Christmas and Consumerism

•15 December 2010 • 6 Comments

Over the weekend I watched ‘What Would Jesus Buy?’, a documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock on the commercialisation of Christmas, the prevalent materialism over the holiday season, and the effects on American society.

On a slight tangent – It’s a fascinating watch, especially if you’re a Christian. The focus of the documentary is following ‘Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping’ on an evangelistic tour. The fascinating bit is that Rev Billy is not a Reverend, he’s a character – a hybrid of street preacher and televangelist, he spreads the message of the evils of consumerism and materialism using a choir, and often in churches. He even prays for people. You could see it as irreverent (and it probably is) but nonetheless it’s certainly interesting.

In the documentary, which includes thoughts from Jim Wallis among others, Rev Billy says this- “If we could change Christmas, we could change the whole year”. My question is, what could you change about Christmas (both as an individual and as a community / society) to improve it?

What would an improved Christmas even look like?

I’m not sure, but leaving aside the ‘real meaning of Christmas’ discussions, I’m certain it wouldn’t be so focused on buying stuff.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve read three blogs on how to make a change at Christmas that I think are great – Man vs Debt’s What Christmas Is NOT About, Wealth Artisan’s 5 Money Saving Tips For Christmas and Zen Habits’ The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents. Well worth reading.

On the back of that, here are a couple of my own thoughts of small changes we as consumers could make in our approach to Christmas:

1.       Give one gift, not loads.

I don’t understand why people buy tons of gifts for each other at Christmas. I’m being hypocritical here, as that’s exactly what we’ve done this year, but if anything says ‘consumer’ it’s buying multiple unrelated gifts –no? If you bought that person one thing rather than four or five, you’d have to think harder about what to get them. Giving loads of gifts is the easy way out. Agree?

2.       Make gifts and decorations

You may be thinking ‘I can’t make anything!’. Certainly this one is easier for some people than others. However, I think anyone can give it a shot. I imagine if you’ve got kids, this would provide hours of great activities. This year so far we’ve given plenty of ‘Brown-brand’ gifts to people, including from our grapevine, grape jam and grape rum. If you’re expecting a Christmas present from us this year, I hope you like chutney.

In the same vein, we’re sporting some natural Christmas decorations this year. One of the benefits of living in a semi-rural area like we do (that picture at the top isn’t a stock photo) is that we can get holly, ivy and berries in abundance. So Kat went out, foraged some foliage and arranged it tastefully. All this was done in the space of an afternoon, the same amount of time it would take us to drive into town and buy some decorations.  Kat’s also made some homemade tree decorations.

I’d love to get your thoughts on Christmas – it seems like every family and community does it slightly differently. For example, my Brazilian friend was telling me that back home their main dinner is late on Christmas Eve, and this weekend me and Kat are going to a ‘white elephant gift exchange’ which must be an American thing.

So, does Christmas need changing? What would an improved Christmas look like? And how would that affect the rest of the year?

The revolution will not be televised – part 2

•6 December 2010 • 6 Comments

A month ago Kat and I packed up our TV. You can read the reasons why we did it, and what we were hoping to get out of it, here.

Rather than just give you my own thoughts on how it’s been, I asked Kat to write a bit from her perspective. So please welcome Apostolic Living’s first guest post, by my wife!

Josh has woken me up from a very nice Sunday afternoon nap by our Christmas tree, to write a little bit on how I’ve found not watching TV and how it’s affected me and us as a couple. Well, I can have more naps for starters! Zzzzzzzz

I’ve always had a TV in the house, ever since I was a child. It was a fairly crucial part of our household, and certainly with the development of freeview and Sky TV, it’s pretty amazing how you can surf TV channels and always find something to watch, even if you don’t need or want to watch it. When Josh suggested giving up TV for a month, I desperately tried to move it further and further back this year…how could I possibly manage without watching CSI!? Or Spooks…or the odd afternoon repeat of a Murder, She Wrote episode!? (Have you guessed that I like murder mystery and government conspiracy shows!!)

Since getting rid of the TV, I have come to this conclusion: I have ultimately ended up filling my head with so much rubbish, mostly with stuff that’s really not good for me and which makes me feel physically unhealthy and unfocussed. TV is addictive, time-wasting and a massive focus-stealer for me. I am the kind of person who, with a fairly active imagination and an ability to feel things incredibly deeply, can watch TV and feel sucked in to the ‘reality’ of what’s being acted out on camera. So much so, that once that program has finished, it will take me the best part of a day to re-focus my mind to the reality in which I’m living! Alot of the time, I have to pray myself back into reality, it can be that bad!! It’s similar to fiction books – I had to stop reading fiction books a few years ago because they completely wreck my focus and mess with my head because I immerse myself so deeply in the story, that I become detached from reality.

With the TV gone, I have to say I am LOVING life without it. I feel mentally sharper and more focussed on things that I need or want to get done with my time, I feel mentally and physically healthier (does anyone else find that TV can make you feel really groggy and tired?) and it’s given way for more quality spent time with Josh, more productive days off work, and more naps should I want them!! It used to be so easy to switch the TV on whenever I was bored, and before you know it, you’ve wasted 2-3 hours of your day watching crap! Josh and I used to have so many evenings where we would either watch TV all evening, or I would watch TV and he would watch stuff on his laptop. We would then get to the end of the working week, and then wonder why we felt like we hadn’t seen each other! News flash: watching TV together does not equate to quality time together. We’ve now actually begun to eat dinner at our dining table instead of on our laps in front of the TV, something that in two years of marriage we have very rarely done. We’re talking to each other more about how our day has been, about how we’re doing at the moment…just generally good communication stuff! We just have more space to spend proper time with each other, to snuggle on the sofa together and chat. These things are such important, healthy things within any marriage or relationship and they have to be protected because it is so easy to let other things steal them away.

Some of you might be thinking that physically getting rid of our TV is a bit extreme, but we needed to be extreme in our intentionality because we’d tried cutting down on the amount of TV we watch, but our resolve is rubbish and it’s so easy to get sucked back in! I’d really encourage you to cut back on the amount of TV you watch during the week, if your resolve is strong, or to do away with TV for a period of time. Try it, it’s amazing and I would thoroughly recommend it!

Kat puts it much better than I could. We’ve spent more time together, been more productive, and feel better. Personally, I’ve really noticed the difference in taking in less information, primarily from not watching adverts. I’ve found that it’s almost freed up information capacity somehow – I’m now reading not only more, but deeper, and spending more time listening to podcasts as well.

In part 1 I picked three specific outcomes I was hoping for by getting rid of the TV – I think it’s worth revisiting them to see what happened:

1. More music

When we packed the TV away, we replaced it in the corner of the room with a turntable and speakers I picked up off ebay on the cheap. We’ve always had a few vinyls knocking around, some inherited, some bought from charity shops in dull lunch hours. We had a record player until we moved, but it was nearing the end of its life so we left it at our old place and didn’t replace it.

The new turntable was ok for background music, but the speakers were just terrible, no depth of sound and lacking in clarity in the low and high frequency ranges. Luckily a couple of years ago I’d lent some active monitors to a friend, so back they came, and the difference is striking. Listening to records is a real pleasure. We’ve listened to Mahler and Brahms over dinner, Oscar Peterson over Sunday roast, and Pink Floyd whilst chatting with friends. It’s been fantastic. I think there’s something about the intentionality of choosing a record and putting it on that leads you to appreciate the music more than if you were clicking on it in iTunes or Spotify.

More music – definitely accomplished. As if to vindicate our decision, whilst in the loft the other day Kat found a boxload of records left by a previous occupant. Surprisingly, there’s some good stuff! Off The Wall, Thriller, some Bob Marley, the Commodores, the Brothers Johnson, all in there.  In fact I’m just off to pick up some classical records off freecycle this evening.

2. Better relationships

I think Kat pretty much covers this in regards to our relationship. In terms of others, I’m not quite sure it’s made a difference in the same way as it has for me and Kat, as obviously you tend not to invite people over specifically to watch TV.

However, I think the lack of information overload that I touched on above has made a difference, in that I’ve (probably unconsciously) spent more time reflecting on things and chatting them through with Kat, which has played out in life outside our house. I’ve had the time and space to learn and to realise both the value in relationships, and where I needed to make some repairs.

3. Improved aesthetics

We put our Christmas tree up on Saturday – where the TV used to be. I think it’s definitely an aesthetical improvement, don’t you?

Christmas tree

So where do we go from here? Kat and I have agreed a plan of action:

We’re going to keep hold of the TV and our license over the Christmas season – obviously we can’t put it where it used to be though, so if we want to watch something we’re going to have to be very intentional about it – unpack the TV, hook it all up, repeat in reverse when done.

In January we’re going to cancel our license and either store the TV or lend it out. We’re committing to going without TV for the foreseeable future. This might change when we have children, which is why we’re not selling the TV, but we’ll revisit it as and when that happens.

This has been a bit of a marathon post, and I hope it hasn’t come across that we think we’re better than those who choose to watch TV. It’s like Kat said – we had to be extreme in our actions to back up our intentions. I would love to hear your thoughts on it – can you imagine life without your TV? Or have you not had a TV for years and think we’re late to the party?

Unspiritual Disciplines: Moderation

•30 November 2010 • 5 Comments

I’ve been listening to some podcasts recently about spiritual disciplines, about which I’ll blog on once I’ve read up on them and given them a go. For context and reference, Richard Foster identifies these spiritual disciplines – four inward; meditation, prayer, fasting, study, four outward; simplicity, solitude, submission, service (nice alliteration), and four corporate; confession, worship, guidance, celebration)

However, thinking about these disciplines got me thinking “if these enable spiritual growth, what similar concepts, disciplines or practices do the opposite?” Specifically, are there things that are eminently worldly sensible, but are of little value in God’s kingdom?

I think the concept and practice of moderation is one such ‘unspiritual discipline’ (not really the antithesis of spiritual discipline, and not even really a discipline, but it’s a catchy title eh?).

Moderation (which dictionary.com defines as the quality of being moderate; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance) seems a sensible idea. Don’t drink too much, restrain from sleeping around, don’t be on the edges of society. In other words, be safe, temper everything you do so you can be ‘normal’. I think there are two problems with this:

1. Moderation, in itself, acknowledges there are extremes to be restrained from. I think it’s a pretty small step away from temptation – whichever way that swings. Depending on your moral compass, and using drinking as the example again, drinking ‘in moderation’ you could be tempted to go teetotal, or to drink loads. You may even feel guilty about it.

2.Jesus wasn’t moderate. He was anything but moderate! This was the guy who said ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” I know I’m coming back to it again, but check out the end of Matthew 6 for how Jesus says we should live:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34

Replace ‘What shall we eat’  with ‘how much should I eat/drink’ etc – is that a valid substitution? If you don’t think it is, please leave a comment. In fact, I think if you tried to apply moderation to the Kingdom of God, the resultant life might end up looking something like that described in Revelation 3:15-17:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Honestly, I believe the concept is that out of kilter to the kingdom of God. More verses that I think back this up: Ephesians 4:17-32, Galations 5, Matthew 5: 13-16.

To conclude, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t display the same behaviour that moderation may lead to (consider this in terms of temper or, again, drinking), but rather that the driver behind those behaviours should never be the supposition that being moderate is a virtue. If you’re a follower of Christ, you don’t have to worry about what’s good – you’ve already got the best.

 

Happiness vs Joy

•24 November 2010 • 7 Comments

A slide from Geoff Hillier's talk @ Canterbury Vineyard, 21 November 2010

A slide from Geoff Hillier's talk @ Canterbury Vineyard, 21 November 2010

In my first post on this blog, I said this:

Here’s why this isn’t a minimalist blog: For most people, and even it seems most minimalist writers out there, the ‘intentional promotion of the things I value most’ part can be replaced with ‘the pursuit of happiness’. This can easily lead to looking inward, and focusing on not what’s important to you, but what’s going to make you happy, which in my experience aren’t always the same thing.  This is not only selfish but, bizarrely, pretty much the exact same goal as the antitheses of minimalism, consumerism and materialism. The key is finding out what you most value.

What’s the difference between happiness and joy? Are they the same thing? If you’re one, are you the other? If they’re different, which leads to which?

As to whether they’re the same thing, I put the question out there on twitter. I got a few responses – one saying the only difference is in the spelling, a couple pointing me to places I might find some more info, and one saying they are different – “for me happiness is circumstantial – fickle I guess. Joy is something much deeper, it can cut through the daily crap!”

I don’t think they’re the same thing, at least I have come to not know them as the same thing. My take on it before I asked anyone or started reading up on it, was that happiness was both temporary and reactionary, whereas joy was a heart attitude, in some senses a discipline, set outside of circumstances and having no relation. As I read up on it I found some interesting stuff:

A quick search on bible gateway for ‘happy’ or ‘happiness’ delivered 26 results. The same search for ‘joy’ or ‘joyful’ brought back 270. So already I’m thinking, either they’re the same thing, or there’s something pretty special about joy for it to be mentioned 10 times as frequently.

So what does the bible have to say about it? Here’s a verse on happiness, from Jonah of all places:

6 Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant.

Jonah 4:6

I might be twisting this for my own purposes – do let me know if I am – but it’s interesting that later in that chapter Jonah gets angry when a hungry worm eats the plant and Jonah isn’t shaded anymore. His happiness is both temporary and based on circumstances. This illustrates my feelings of queasiness about pursuing happiness perfectly – happiness is a dangerous emotion! If we put our treasure in happiness, it can easily get taken away which can lead not only to anger but to far worse. Of course that’s not to say happiness as an emotion is in any way bad – God doesn’t make mistakes – but that it should be recognised for what it is.

In contrast, a couple of verses on joy (it would have been fairer to do 10 but I think you get the gist):

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galations 5:22

11 You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

From these verses, I think it’s pretty clear that the two are different. Happiness starts and ends in a feeling, whereas joy roots itself in the heart and isn’t necessarily arisen out of something positive happening.

With that sorted, another question niggling me was this: is joy only found in God, or can it be found in the world – in relationships etc. Are they different things? I was checking out the verse in Phil 4:4 about rejoicing always when I noticed something interesting a few verses before – check this out:

1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! ….  4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Only three verses apart, Paul talks about joy being found in relationships, then rejoicing in God. What can we take from this? I reckon two things:

1. When we talk about joy being an attitude of the heart, its connotations are like that of a discipline (as I thought at first). However if we think of it like this we’re missing the point completely. We’re called to ‘rejoice in the Lord’ not for his pleasure, or ours, but because he is God! He is all powerful, all loving, all forgiving, etc.. the list goes on and on.

2. It’s not only ‘acceptable’ for us to find joy in and amongst our day to day lives, it’s the whole point! 2 Corinthians 4:7 says that God puts his treasures in jars of clay. Similarly as we feel anger and compassion when we see injustice around us, should we not feel joy when that injustice is put right? Absolutely! Let us rejoice in not only who God is, but what he has done and what he is doing through us. In this way I think that joy comes from hope fulfilled, seeing what God is up to.

One final point that I’d love some feedback on – how is joy related to the other fruits of the spirit mentioned above? I’m sure that they’re not separate – ie being joyful puts you on the path to peace and vice versa. What do you reckon?

 

The revolution will not be televised – part 1

•11 November 2010 • 11 Comments

Two or three weeks ago I was in our spare bedroom sorting out some stuff in our filing cabinet. No big deal, I help out around the house, except that the only reason I was doing that was because I didn’t want to be downstairs while Kat was watching TV. It was one of those ubiquitous police drama shows, and I knew that if I stayed downstairs I would inevitably give it some attention, of which it was completely undeserving. The ground floor of our house is pretty much one large open plan room, so there’s no hiding place. I realised then that it surely was not worth having a TV if I was going to let it make me frustrated and even divide me and Kat.

I’d been thinking about ditching television for a while, conscious of how, even with the ability to record programmes and fast-forward through the ads, I was still saying stuff like ‘I’m just going to chill out and watch some TV for a bit’ or ‘let’s see what’s on TV’. But only when I read Adam Baker’s excellent ’11 Reasons to Ditch Your TV’ was I properly sold. It’s not all reason number 7, in case you’re wondering.

So Kat and I decided that we would try life without TV for a bit. We decided that a month would be a good period of time, long enough to see if it would have any real effects, either positive or negative, but short enough to not eat into Christmas, should we decide we want to watch some of the usual festive stuff.

We haven’t given up TV full stop – we can still watch TV on our laptops (we haven’t cancelled the TV license), or at the pub or other people’s houses. That’s because you have to be intentional to watch something on your laptop or with other people, it’s a lot more effort than just flicking the TV on.

Not wishing to repeat Baker’s post (because it really is great, you should read it), here are a few reasons for the decision, or outcomes I’m hoping it will lead to:

  • More music

I love music – I play in a couple of bands, I even have a degree in it. Even so, when listening to music it’s easy to reduce it to a facet of entertainment just because it only stimulates your ears (the effects of a culture of multi-tasking?) whereas TV more often than not gets our full attention. What a shame that a work of art gets reduced to being listened to while we’re surfing facebook or reading the news, whilst Simon Cowell and a truckload of fame wannabes on X-factor get our full attention. I’m not saying that I’m going to consciously listen to albums with the full attention that I would give a TV show, but I love it when I get back to the house and Kat’s got music on- I think it’s the auditory equivalent of mood lighting.

  • Better relationships

Like most guys, I find it very easy to not talk about things that are going on with me. It’s not that I find it difficult, it’s just really easy not to. Now I’m conscious that I could be blaming TV for something it has nothing to do with, but I’m hoping that if I have fewer distractions I’ll talk more. Over dinner especially – in a normal week where we’d probably eat dinner together say 5 evenings out of 7, we’d probably eat in front of the TV 2 or 3 of those times. I’m not sure why – it’s tempting to say it’s a convenience thing, but it’s more of a hassle to get out trays to eat off than it is to walk the extra few steps to the table. I’m also hoping that it will affect relationships outside of the home. If something’s happened on TV that I’ve missed, I would hope that I could have a chat about it with people, or even better, chat about something other than TV. I’m very aware that I talk about football a lot, and I’m not sure even getting rid of the TV will change this…

  • Aesthetics

TVs are ugly – no matter how sleek some of them look, it’s basically a plus-size matt black painting given pride of place in the room you spend most time in. We were careful about where we put our TV when we moved house– in the corner so that it wouldn’t dominate the room but could still be seen – but it still was one of the first things you saw. I’d much prefer people to appreciate anything else about our house, even if that means they discover some of the more dodgy choices in the record collection (honestly, I bought that Rick Astley vinyl for a laugh) or on the bookshelf.

We packed the TV away on Monday, so the month will be up 8 December. Check back then to see what happened…

What are your thoughts on television? Do you have one? If not, why not and how does it affect your life?