Friday, March 4, 2011

Live with Less

One of the most influential books in the simple living movement was Doris Janzen Longacre's "Living More with Less."  Published in the 80's, this book not only called everyone to live a life of less in order to care for those who didn't have enough, but called Christ Followers to this life as well.

In a day and age when Christianity is often linked to heavy consumerism and capitalism, this is a radical call for Christians.  While I continue to hold to the belief that Jesus was a hippie, many still continue to think that following Jesus no longer means "sell all your belongings and follow me" but "take all you can."  While this may be a severe blanket stereotype, it does hold some weight.  With elaborate church buildings, fancy car-filled parking lots and still a huge portion of starving people, it seems as though the majority of God's children are no longer attempting to care for those who are less fortunate.  But Jesus' message has not changed.  People have twisted it.

Longacre's challenge to those who claim to follow Jesus is a serious one.  And with the problems severely increasing since the 1980's, over 30 years ago, we need to take on this challenge.  We need to not let our consumerism get in the way of caring for others.  One would think that with the internet we would become more aware of those who are in need all over the world.  Instead we turn our heads, telling ourselves that we are helping those by supporting the sweat shops they work in.  "At least they have jobs" we say.

This book can also be a very helpful resource for those who claim no religion, or even a different one from Christianity.  Do Justice.  Learn from the World Community.  Nurture People.  Cherish the Natural Order.  Nonconform Freely.  These are Longacre's Five Life Principles, with which she challenges us to live by, and can be taken on by those of any faith.  While living with less can commonly be brushed off, we should at least try.  Start thinking of the these life principles when you make simple purchases.  "Does this item nurture people?  Does it cherish the natural order?"  Starting small can bring you down a path of simplicity out of caring for others.


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