One of our most interesting recent (involuntary) exercises in simplification vs accumulation comes about as a result of this new apartment we moved into in late August. We are the first tenants in this apartment, part of a new building on the southwest edge of Elektrostal. Apartments in this building are individually owned; each owner decides whether to occupy it or rent it out. Clearly, the builders assume that apartment owners will customize every inch themselves, because the apartments are sold as very bare shells. The wallpaper is absolutely minimal (and already peeling off); no light fixtures are supplied, and the sinks and faucets are bare minimum.
We don't have an unlimited budget, and we also have to consider that our lease is only for a year. It's an interesting process to think through each decision: what is required for reasonable comfort and to create a hospitable home, and what can we do without? How can beauty, simplicity, and economy be reconciled? (For example: Moscow's IKEA stores are tempting because of their low prices, but I've noticed that too much IKEA stuff creates a motel-like decor.) I'd like to think that I cared about these things before, but this is the first time we've had to create a home from scratch. It's not an easy exercise, but it is definitely worthwhile.
|(part two of Jon Stewart's interview)|
Intriguingly, Stewart mentioned that Blair is in the USA to teach a Yale course on "Faith and Globalization," so I talked about Blair's background as a Christian socialist--a political position with an honorable history in Britain, even if its US presence has usually been microscopic. All in all, lots of seeds for future conversations.
Righteous links: For some fresh material on Christians affecting culture, explore this site. ~~ Christopher Priest's "Third Horseman," on a central irony of the U.S. election campaign in a time of credit meltdown. ~~ In praise of the talking stick.
Blues from Arsen Shomakhov and Vadim Ivashchenko: