Another Sunday sermon

We went to church last night, so today there’s time for a sunny Sunday morning on my in-laws deck. The priest gave my favorite kind of homily. It was short, to the point, and it sticks. He said something that I had to come home and look up.

There are more malls in America than high schools.

The Gospel this week is John 10:1-10 in the Catholic cycle. The verse ends with, “…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” The Pastor’s point was clear: he didn’t think that meant more cars in garages. Or, as he lamented, bigger garages with cars parked outside because the garages are full of stuff we thought we couldn’t live without. That’s how he got to the tidbit on shopping malls.

Father went on to explain that he felt “abundantly” had little to do with the stuff in our garages. While it’s certainly no sin to have things, it’s not the things that will keep you going. An abundance of faith, an abundance of knowledge, I guess the two would rate higher in Jesus’ plan than an abundance of Webkinz or a Land Rover toting the sportiest briefcase to work.

I checked it out this morning. Sure enough, in 2004 CNN Money wrote, “America now has more shopping centers than high schools.” I spent some time putting it all in context for where I live.

I’m not preaching from on high here. I have stuff, too. I’ve spent years trying to sort out the leftovers of three little children. I’ve moved fabric to two different houses. But little by little I’ve moved into what I call de-acquisition mode. Less stuff comes home. More stuff goes out. Little by little it’s working.

In February Forbes did an article of REITs – Real Estate Investment Trusts – and how they are golden even in a time when the globe is supposed to be crashing towards recession. Our own CBL of Tennessee, owner of Brookfield Square, is on the list provided. We’re doing a mighty fine job of keeping them solvent. So why did they need so much in infrastructure subsidy from taxpayers when it came time for them to make improvements to their company’s investments? Why, voters, are shopping malls taking tax dollars that keep our taxes high? When the high schools stand in line, they have to go to referendum for improvements. Yes, one’s the city and the other the school district, but that money is coming from one wallet in each taxpayer’s home.

I’m still fundamentally opposed to the $62.2 million referendum that just past in Elmbrook. I argue that the improvements should have been done as part of the maintenance plan for our district. I still think that pitiful dripping pipes are a very poor calling card for the current school board and administration. But I also think that we need to reconsider what our priorities are as taxpayers. Then we need to elect people that will represent those priorities.

More malls than high schools. Welcome to America.


  1. I think I know where that priest got the inspiration for his homily, the book i’m reading right now says pretty much the exact same thing in that order.

  2. Capt. Stanley says:

    Take the time and rent the recently released movie “Into the Wild.” A good movie based on a great book by the same name. A story of one young man’s journey to discover that “less is more.” It a hard mantra to live by, but one worth pursuing to what ver degree you can muster.

  3. Might be the mom in me, but I think “Into the Wild” illustrates a pathetic, pointless, stupid waste of a young life. In this case, less was just loss.