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Minimalism Is a Religion and I’m Leaving the Church
As I get closer to wrapping up actively posting at Hip Diggs, I think it’s only fair that I explain why I’m quitting. It’s simple. I don’t believe in Minimalism.
This isn’t to say that I’m not a proponent of simple living. I am. But minimalism has become a religion. And I’m not big on religions. Here’s why:
Religion Promises Heaven, but Doesn’t Really Deliver
Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Think about it. Every religion, whether spiritual, ideological, or organizational, makes you a promise. Some religions promise an afterlife. Others promise nirvana. While others promise you health and happiness. Minimalism in its modern form is a religion. The Internet is the church. The bloggers are the preachers.
The preachers promise you that you will find happiness, health, and greater success when you become a minimalist. But the task of becoming a minimalist is on a grand scale for most people. It’s near impossible for many. Why? Because people who have accumulated lots of stuff are overwhelmed by the idea of letting it all go. Others have circumstances that don’t really allow them to live minimally. But the preachers firmly plant the idea in their heads.
You read articles filled with hope and joy written by the minimalist Gods who have somehow found perfect bliss through their newfound lifestyles. You read memes that suggest your life will be filled with peace and health. The pictures that accompany these memes usually show people down by the ocean, or high in the mountains, living life without a care in the world. It’s a glorious picture of perfection. But it doesn’t really exist.
Go Ahead, Call Me a Minimalist Heretic
You might think I’m jaded. If I were writing this about Christianity, you might think I’ve denounced my salvation. You might call me a minimalist heretic. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t really care. My point is simple enough. Minimalism has become a religion.
So what happens when followers of the minimalist Gods screw up and don’t follow the right path?
For instance, let’s say you decide to become a minimalist. You purge. And although it never feels like you’ve purged quite enough, you feel good about your status as a budding minimalist. But then you see some shoes you like. Although you don’t need them, you buy them. You’re overcome with guilt. You go back to your Internet church and read the minimalist preachers’ messages again. You’ve sinned. But you might be redeemed if you sign up for a course. That will help you become and remain a good minimalist. You need to find that perfect bliss that they tell you is waiting for you when you just get rid of enough stuff.
This becomes a cycle, a classic Saturday night/Sunday morning dichotomy. You go out drinking on Saturday night. You go to church on Sunday morning to repent. See? Minimalism is a religion. And religions are set up to take advantage of the masses by offering heaven, but keeping you in hell.
I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “Holy crap! Dan’s lost his minimalist marbles.” I lost my marbles years ago. That’s beside the point. I mean really, how many of you still have the marbles from your childhood? I’m less concerned with right and wrong, good and bad, as I am with Truth. And the truth is minimalism is a religion, and probably a false religion at that. It’s created to attempt to fill the void people feel who lack faith in Something Greater. Neither accumulating stuff nor purging stuff will replace Truth.
Simple Living Just Is
Just because I’m leaving the Church of Minimalism doesn’t mean I won’t continue to practice and promote simple living. If you go way back into the Hip Diggs’ archives, I’ve really been a minimalist heretic from the start. I’ve always questioned the worship, the rituals, and the sacrificial ceremonies that the minimalist church promotes. You don’t have to go to church to believe in Jesus. It’s the same thing here. You don’t have to read the minimalist books and blogs to live simply.
Simple living is just common sense. You live within your means. Don’t spend too much money. Buy the things to support your basic needs. And yes, unlike what the minimalist church preaches, it’s okay to buy a few things you want along the way. Live in simple moderation, but live well. That’s all.
Of course, I have other reasons for phasing out Hip Diggs. I’m going to be true to myself. I’ve repeatedly posted articles about doing less. Running two blogs is more than I need to do, especially when one of the blogs is part of a church I will no longer be attending.
I promised you 500 posts at Hip Diggs (this is post #492). I’ll be keeping that promise. You can expect posts here into October, maybe November. After that time, most of my writing will move to my main site, danerickson.net. I’ll also continue to write poetry at Cowboy Zen and create music at Anderhill. The journey isn’t over. There’s just a slight change in direction. As always, you’re invited along.