Jun 1, 2008

Review - Living More With Less

by Doris Janzen Longacre.

I picked this book up at the Regent book sale last week, and am finding lots of good stuff in it. I had previously heard good things of the More With Less Cookbook, so didn't hesitate to pop this title in my bag.

The sub-title (if that's the correct term) is "a pattern for living with less and a wealth of practical suggestions from the worldwide experiences of Mennonites."

The book lists five principles for Living More with Less. Here is my brief re-writing of what I picked out of each of those 5 chapters:

1. Do Justice. Be aware of the link between our wealth and the poverty of others, and act to change that situation as you are able

2. Learn from the World Community. Those who are forced to live with less inevitably have lots of things to teach us about doing so. This wisdom will also extend into other areas. The West deludes itself when we think that we are always the benefactors and the 'third world' are the grateful recipients of our patronising aid. It is good to be humble and listen to what others might be able to tell us about life the universe and everything.

3. Nurture People. People are, by definition, not 'things.' The more effort we put into our 'things,' the less energy and time we have for people. And vice versa.

4. Cherish the Natural Order. God made the planet to work the way that nature works. If we correctly understand our role in this world, we will work with God's natural order. Nature is not the enemy to be subdued by our big machines, rather "God saw what He had made and it was good." (Genesis 1)

5. Nonconform Freely. Striking the balance between 'freedom' and 'obligation' is never easy. Tread lightly, be aware of how your choices affect those around you (especially your children, for whom your free choices might feel like a shackle to overthrow), try and make your decisions for good reasons, not just because that's the new accepted rule. Find kindred spirits for mutual support and encouragement.

What follows those brief 5 chapters is page after page of testimonial-type hints from hundreds of people making small and large choices to live more simply. Lots of very practical ideas ranging from "darn your socks," and "eat less meat," to "have a significantly smaller house," "limit your budget to what your family would receive on welfare and donate the rest," and all sorts of other things.

The book is also sprinkled through with relevant quotes from scripture, literature, poetry, proverbs from various countries etc. I'll leave you with one:

Lord, I know not why I eat
And millions die of hunger.
What doth it profit thee to give me food?
What give I in return?
Crumbs, just crumbs.
Lord, here is thy bread.
- M. T. Brackbill, from "Bread for Bread"
published in Gospel Herald

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