The price of everything

In John Lanchester's state-of-the-nation novel set in 2007 London, Capital, he describes a phenomenon that when I read it, I immediately realised I'd never thought of it but of course it was true:

“For most of its history, the street was lived in by more or less the people it was built for: the aspiring not-too-well-off... But the houses were the backdrop to their lives: they were an important part of life but they were a set where events took place, rather than the principle characters. Now, however, the houses had become so valuable to people who already lived in them, and so expensive for people who had recently moved into them, that they had become central actors in their own right.” (5, Kindle edition)

It's easy for forget how recent and local a phenomenon this is, to say nothing of how precarious it may still be (see here). Of course property ownership is the biggest financial investment most of us will make but that doesn't excuse the incessant talking about it, spending of time and more money on it (which Lanchester goes on to wryly describe), and watching TV programmes about other people doing these same things. I'm grateful to God for the gift of where we live, but this quote is a good reminder that what happens in our homes is far more valuable than the price someone might pay for our house. We should act accordingly.