We ordered a new car today. It's been one of the more difficult decisions we've had to make in a long time. On one hand, how does one justify owning a new car when two thirds of the world is starving? On the other hand, I have need of a reliable car in order to fulfil my ministry. (It would be all but impossible, for example, to travel to meetings around the diocese, and to my regular commitment at Portsmouth College, without such transport.)
There is a large part of me that wishes I lived in a part of the world where I could travel by foot, bike, or unreliable public transport to just one meeting per day...a part of the world, in other words, where such slow progress was the norm (and where one would have many more hours for thought and prayer). But that is not the world I live in.
Tomorrow, for example, I will take a school assembly, in Emsworth. Then I will hack over to Clanfield, just in time for a tutorial for my degree course. I will dash back home for a quick bite of lunch, before going on down to our Church for our monthly 'meesy church'. After nipping home for tea, the evening already includes one funeral visit...and a return home to check the emails, open the post, and get to work on Sunday evening's sermon....which is already running late.
I'm not complaining...a enjoy life that is lived to the max. However, I am, I suppose, justifying to myself that to live this kind of lifestyle I need a vehicle that I can rely on - and which won't eat up my time in getting quotes and arranging repairs - and throwing me unexpected repair bills. My current car, which has been a faithful servant for the last 2 and a half years, is starting to need such attention (tyres, brakes and exhaust are all nearing the end of their useful lives). The new (smaller) car, on the other hand, has all new parts, a full warranty, and a set monthly cost.
So, I've made a decision - I've gone for reliability and financial dependability over the lottery of owning an increasing aging car.
But I suppose the fact I am blogging about this shows that I don't feel entirely easy about the decision. There's no doubt that there is an element of luxury about my new toy.
Those of us who have enough money to be able to afford choices have to make tough ones all the time. How much to give? How much to use? The balance between need and pleasure. Decisions, decisions, decisions....
...and none of them is easy.