The Devil in the Dumpster

I live in a small town that once made the Guinness World Records for the most churches per capita.

For some of you, that might sound like heaven. For others, hell.

For me, it’s become a fascinating study in human nature, a great place to ponder the big questions, like: Do you really need to believe in god to be a good person and do kind things for others?

Case in Point: The Methodist Church Thrift Store Dumpster Incident

We have several nonprofit thrift shops in town, run by volunteers. One is affiliated with a local church, and yes, I have shopped there multiple times for props and costumes.  That is where I found this behemoth Bible for the “altar” in my show.


Knowing my money supported a church bothered me a little. But as you probably know, making art involves sacrifice, and I am an artiste.

When donations arrive at the church thrift store, volunteers go to work separating the wheat from the chaff. It took me awhile to realize what was happening with the items the volunteers deemed chaff (Bible-speak for shit).

They ended up in a Dumpster sitting out back in the alley. Whenever I passed this way, I always stopped and took a peek at what the Methodists were throwing out that day. To date I have scored a brand new meditation CD set, several delightful books, a men’s sweatshirt, a pink Easter basket, a children’s Bible, and many costume pieces for my show.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one sifting through the chaff and helping myself to the Christian castoffs. The difference, though, is I always neatly piled items back into their boxes when I was done rummaging through them. Other people, it seems, just left everything scattered about.

One day a chain appeared, encircling the Dumpster and clinched with a lock. No more Reduce/Reuse/Recycle for us!

Some artists (or maybe poor people or meth heads or who the hell knows) took matters into their own hands and cut off the lock. I’m not condoning their behavior — technically this “trash” was private property.

And then, some frustrated church volunteer taped this note to the Dumpster:

MethDumpsterEverything about this makes me sad ….. that there are some people out there who need to get their clothes out of a Dumpster . . . .  that there are some Christians who can’t find it in their hearts to feel compassion for those people . . . . and that now I can’t get any more free things.


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