Robbing the poor with tile floors

Per usual, I'm a little behind in the churchwide Book of Mormon read-a-thon. I just got through 2nd Nephi last night. I thought the Isaiah parts would do me in, like they always do, but I perservered (after, all, Christ is coming in January, didn't you know?), and once I got into the rhythym of it all, it was ok. And there was a particular verse that struck me. It's 2 Ne, 28:13, which reads: "They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart because in their pride, they are puffed up." Ok, so we just spent a lot of money re-doing some things in our house. Well, I guess money is all relative, but it was a lot of money to us. Some of the things really NEEDED re-doing, and well, some of them didn't, not really. I mean, the linoleom is ugly and makes the house look cheap and never clean, but it wasn't exactly worn out. We didn't have to tile it. We could have sent that money to Hurricane Katrina Relief instead and just lived with ugly linoleom. So, did we 'rob the poor' because of our tile floor? I don't think that we live lavishly. Our house is not huge, our cars are not luxury cars, and our clothing mostly comes from Target. But this scripture makes me wonder if even that is too much a luxury, and that every time I spend money on things that I really don't need if I am, indeed, like this scripture suggests, 'robbing the poor'. The holidays are coming up, a time when people spend money without abandon. Again, we try to limit our gift giving to a reasonable budget, but we invariably go over, and most of the time we are getting things for others that really, none of us need. When we engage in such activities, are we also robbing the poor? I understand the spirit of this scripture, and I understand that not everything should be taken to an extreme. But I have to say, I'm feelng a little guilty about things right now, and hoping I don't have to say to the Savior, "Well, I know that there were people who had no homes, and that the Red Cross really needed money, but I just really wanted a tile floor, instead. You should see it, it looks fantastic!" Somehow, I don't think He will be all that impressed.


Blogger Allison said...

Post pictures!

I have been obsessing over flooring for a long time now. I probably think of it (somewhat guiltily) at least as often as teenage boys purportedly think about sex. We have carpet in our master bath (blame the builder) that really needs to go, but I really want wood floors in the living room and hallways too. And my husband keeps wanting to add rock to our fireplace and tile our countertops, neither of which is at all necessary. If we do any of it my plan is to donate a bigger fast offering so I won't be an irredeemably bad person.

10/14/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

We just got new hardwood floors and I've had similar guilty thoughts. But they are so pretty! Sigh...

I am a little behind you in my reading - Mid 2nd Nephi, good job finishing it! The Isaiah chapters are slow going for me.

10/14/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Oh stop feeling guilty. Do you only buy clothes when your other ones wear out? I doubt it. If I weren't so lazy I'd look up the BoM verses that say the Lord prospered his people because of their righteousness. The Lord blesses people with his beautiful creations (and linoleum is not a beautiful creation).

Allison, I'd strongly advise against tile countertops. Too much stuff gets in the grout which is A) gross, B) hard to clean, C) the grout will change color after abundant use, which is gross. It's also an uneven surface which is no fun when you're trying to wipe stuff with your hands. Go for Corian or granite (though I personally think granite is cheesy).

10/14/2005 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Heather, you don't have to apologize for being able to have decent floors.

It's depressing to be in a house that doesn't look clean and when your floors are old, they never look clean.

I am so going to rip out our carpet and put in laminate the next time my husband goes out of town.

It's true that we are richer than most of the world, we Americans. But we work hard for what we have and we as a people are generous. I suspect you as an individual are very generous.

It's not like you have a house in LA and New York, and a private island in Washington state.

I think about improving my house a lot, too, and I laughed at your reference to sex, Allison. Old men think about it a lot, too.

10/14/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt Jacobsen said...

I frequently have the same feelings, Heather. For me, guilt isn't really the right word. It's more that I'm disappointed in the desires of my heart. Sure, I could forgo the worldly things I'm thinking about and do something more charitable with my time and money. The sad thing is I would still want the things I didn't buy. What I really need is a change of heart so that I desire the things of God more readily. There is great peace and power in being content with my own situation and finding joy in improving the lot of others.

Despite what I've learned, I still focus way too much on my material circumstance. It's so easy to justify pretty much any purchase. We frequently use the reason that we are providing employment for those from whom we buy products and services. That's true, but I still wish there were more voices telling us to be more charitable to those in need. Since you already have the floors, don't feel guilty because that will just sap you. But you can think of the guilt you've already felt as a lesson for future decisions.

I'm sure there are a few people out there who have given too much to the poor, but I haven't met any of them.

10/14/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


I think you are right. I would still want the material desires of my heart, even if I pulled it together enough to give what I should probably be giving to the poor. I guess it is all in the desires of our hearts.

10/14/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

I second whoever said not to get tile countertops. We had some in an apartment we lived in in graduate school and man was that grout yucky and impossible to clean! Also, it makes it hard to roll out any kind of dough, if you like baking. I like the smooth feel and look of corian for countertops.

10/14/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Yeah, if I ever get the chance to do it over, I'll go with granite. :) That's when we hit the lottery.

10/14/2005 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Beanie said...

I am also behind on reading the BOM...way behind...so far behind that well, you could say that I just started (true). But I do have a plan! I have taken the days that are left, so now I know how many pages a day I would have to reas, and since I am a slow reader, I read along with the BOM on CD! As for the home repairs, DH and I are not do it yourself-ers. So It would cost us more to hire whatever it is we wanted done to someone who would 1. do it right, 2. get it done and not take forever, and 3.make it as painless as possible (until it came time to pay). So we just hold off as long as we can, unless it is an emergency repair.

10/15/2005 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous JKS said...

oglHow long have you lived with that floor? You didn't walk into your house and say in an arrogant way, "I couldn't possibly live in a house of this poor caliber."
I think it is important to live within your means. I think it is important to realize that your kitchen floor isn't everything. What is on the list before the kitchen floor?
You know it is not a necessity. That is important to realize. You know you could live without it if you could never afford to pay for it.
It isn't riches that are evil. It is the love of riches.
Now, that said, I had a linoleum kitchen & bathroom floor from 1961 (original) in our house when we moved into it in 1998. It was ugly, it was falling apart. I didn't like it.
But, I like debt even less. I was grateful that we had been able to afford a house.
We finally had it redone in 2003 and it was beautiful. And I didn't regret it at all.
A year later we bought an entire new house! That was a bigger extravagence, that is for sure. But there were a lot of good reasons, and we are being responsible with our money and living within our means and have no debt other than mortgage.
We pay a full tithe and if the lord asked, we would give more.
I grew up in a fairly "rich" family. What is amazing though is that I seem to care less about "riches" than others around me. Because my parents taught me that "stuff" didn't really matter in life. They showed this by being responsible with their money and passing easily on things that were more than they could afford.
People with less money can be more "riches" oriented by making it their top priority. Always wanting more, always living on the edge, and only getting happiness from their possessions.
If you can afford the new kitchen floor and it would make your kitchen look much nicer, go ahead. Alway realize that if your house burned down, you wouldn't care about the kitchen floor. Keeping perspective is important.
And yes, giving to others in need is also important. But we don't have to live in a dirt hut just because other people in the world do. It is again an attitude thing. Are you willing to give up "some" of your money for others? Pay fast offering, donate to food drives? You don't have to give it all. But if you are willing to give some, it reminds you that money is not what is important in this life. It is very temporary.

10/15/2005 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger a spectator said...

I have actually lived in a dirt hut--it was great. Didn't collect so much stuff because there was no where to keep it, easy to clean house from top to bottom in a matter of minutes, and I never agonized about wether or not I was sinning by living there or having a dirt floor. I would highly reccomend a year in the third world to any American, give great perspective.

10/15/2005 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Wow, that's great. What a good experience.
While I have never had a dirt floor, I have lived many different places. What I appreciate most is the understanding that everything isn't exactly the same everywhere.
For instance, realizing that even the old linoleum is better than what many people have. And that beautiful new tile isn't nearly extravagent as what other people have.
Moving in high school, for instance, underscores how silly people are about what is "cool." Because what is cool at one place, is definitely not cool at another.
In fact, things like clothes or floors are not very important, really, in the eternal perspective.
Whether we have dirt floors or hardwood floors doesn't really affect our souls, unless we put so much importance on it ourselves.

10/16/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Well, we laid the tile ourselves, after shopping around and getting it as cheap as it could get.

BTW, granite countertops can be fun, I find myself still cleaning ours. Win did tiles for the backsplash and that worked well, though the place with the ultra cheap price (15% of the next cheapest wholesaler) was hard to get in (it took three trips to the wholesaler).

Part of building for permanence.

10/16/2005 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Your generous fast offereings should be plenty for giving to the needy and the Katrina victims. Besides the government made you pay for it by promising 60 billion for katrina releif. Not only will you pay that debt the rest of your life, your kids probably will too.

10/16/2005 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

No, Spectator, I vote to have some third world person live with me. Or somebody from Russia so I can show them that American supermarkets are not made up for propaganda purposes.

I can live without a dirt hut. I appreciate what I have without it. When I start wishing I had a new bathroom with a whirlpool tub, I think, "shut up, you are richer than most of the world."

I still might go for that tub when my husband is out of town fishing. Oh, to think of it. Plus a new toilet that doesn't break down all the time.

Now, Anne, most of the world doesn't have toilets. See what I mean?

10/17/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Believe me, I know A LOT of mormons who live VERY lavishly (I live in a rich area). Would that scripture apply to them as well? Or could you counter that they are merely giving to their children the things/lifestyle they never had?

(I vote for the latter.)

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it too much. You're doing what you need to do to a) make life liveable for your family (and that includes making upgrades on your home--frivolous or not) and b) make yourself happy.
If you're not happy with yourself/your home, how can you be expected to be happy in serving others and/or serving in your callings?

Just my exmo $0.02. =)

10/18/2005 11:59:00 AM  

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