What to say? For a couple of years now I have been hesitant to engage publicly on issues of excessive consumerism, sustainability, and personal simplicity. A number of excuses kept me from writing and speaking. One has been self-doubt. Is it really my place to have a public voice on these issues? Another has been worry of offending people who feel judged by voluntary minimalists, many of whom, like myself, live fabulously comfortable lives far removed from the harsh realities of “forced minimalism,” i.e. extreme poverty. While the 100 Thing Challenge continues to pique interest around the world, I have wished to go in new and different directions as I re-engage the topics the challenge addressed. Finally there is this. I am a person of religious faith, a Christian, and increasingly I cannot escape the conviction that my message regarding simplicity needs to more explicitly reflect what Jesus said and did about it. There are other excuses, too.
Some time ago in response to midlife vocational stirrings I created a guidance document for myself. A few details of this document have changed over the past few years. One paragraph has not changed, except that its sentiment has grown stronger in my heart and mind. Also my hands and feet have grown more restless to turn the sentiment into action.
I am convinced many people around me are grieved by the broken social and cultural path to fulfillment, namely materialism, they have followed. It has failed them. Many Christians are grieved for the same reason, which in the Church’s context we might call, “Christian Mammonism.” People caught up in this false path to fulfillment feel powerless to change. I plan to be an inspiration for those people who feel hopeless, particularly in Christian contexts. Change is possible.
Be it the calming influence of middle age or the past years of self-doubt or some other input, those words sound too grandiose and selfish to my ears these days. Yet there they are. I cannot seem to get rid of them. The best I think I can do moving forward is to pursue them with humility and humor and candor and grace. All this is a kind of confession and announcement that I am reengaging.
More to come…