The power of sin to distort and confuse is demonstrated by the fact the simple living spirit was co-opted for commercial gain by a large cog in the materialistic system. You may recall the “priceless” commercials. The original featured a father and son attending a baseball game – 2 tickets $28, refreshments $18, souvenir $45; real conversation – priceless.
Simple living betrays the lie of this commercial. We can experience what is most valuable – the deep connection in our relationships – without buying it. Simple living helps us see clearly that rather than working extra hours to buy “stuff” (tickets, refreshments, and souvenirs); we might work less and have more time for relationships.
Simple living is about turning away from the evil materialistic system that turns us into blind consumers, encourages us to love things, and spends $150bn to seduce us to buy stuff. In turning away from the materialistic system, we turn toward Jesus and the abundant life that Christ offers us. We limit our participation in the unjust system, thus contributing to economic justice and proclaiming good news to the poor.
Simple living is both an orientation and a set of practices that assist us in following Jesus, loving better, and resisting the pull of the materialistic system. Initially, it is primarily personal and ordinary; making decisions about routine tasks: What to eat? Where to shop? How to spend time?
At a deeper level, we realize we participate in a global economic/political system as a consumer, worker, investor, and citizen. Our ordinary decisions have broader effects that either magnify or minimize this system. Good lovers of Jesus pay attention to both aspects – their personal practices and their economic/political participation.
As an orientation, simple living is about living life with a purpose. It is a recognition that our life is not ours, but a gift from God. We serve as stewards of this gift and are responsible for how we use our time, talents, and resources.
As a practice, simple living is about assessing the decisions we make about our time, money, talents and possessions. It is about evaluating our priorities and comparing them to our decisions and actions. It cultivates our awareness of the ways the system encourages us to overcommit our time and to acquire too much stuff. It sustains our commitment to un-clutter our lives of stuff.
Like following Jesus, simple living is not a predefined path, but a journey taken in partnership. The 5 markers of a loving relationship – increased zest, greater clarity, greater ability to act, increased respect, and deeper connection – help guide us. Living simply brings clarity and deepens our relationships. At first it can be overwhelming; but over time it liberates us to follow Jesus more fully.
Surprisingly, it appears there are slim resources online for Simple Living. Perhaps it best ambassadors limit their online time.
Best resource I found is this forum which is current, active, and has a wide range of topics related to Simple Living:
Simple Living Forum
Best practical advice comes from a brother practicing Zen and blogging about it:
Simple Living Simplified: 10 Things You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life
Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life
You can find a lot of resources for Christians and congregations, though it will take a little bit of work navigating around the site.
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Alternatives For Simple Living
For a good laugh, the iconoclast George Carlin performed a stand-up piece at Comic Relief (1986) on “Stuff.” He gets right to the heart of our love of things.
WARNING: Language and adult themes.
George Carlin – Comic Relief 1986 – Stuff