I am scared to take a proprietary interest in anything, for fear that my love of what I own may be killing somebody somewhere.
Merton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are proving to be my main teachers as I write this book. Merton is the spiritual director; Bonhoeffer the theologian. His Cost of Discipleship, written in the same era as Merton's Secular Journals, looks at what Christ calls us to lay down in our pursuit of a life with him. Meanwhile, Merton hints at this idea that what a consumerist, materialist culture calls us to take on makes us complicit in what that culture does to the world we inhabit. That's the hidden cost of ownership: we don't only own what we buy, we own the just and unjust business practices that secured the production of what we buy, we own the environmental degradation that such production causes, we own the hoarding of intellectual property that makes luxury items out of life-saving medication. We own all sorts of things alongside the things we invest in or buy.
Read my friend Chris Heuertz's article "Breaking Her Back to Clothe Mine" for a good up-close look at the cost of ownership and some ways of mitigating it.