Between action and contemplation, at the intersection of concern with economic justice and the fight against climate change, lies simplicity. It's the Christian alternative to materialism, consumerism, dissatisfaction and greed.
Where contemporary capitalist society fills the spiritual void with money, possessions, status and power, the Christian discipline of simplicty instead seeks to follow Jesus in humility, contentment and contemplation.
Simplicity is not just about changing how we live, but reorienting who we are.
Below are three different ways to engage with the discipline of simplicity. Click any of the headings to skip through.
Why is simplicity a good idea? Why should we care?
How does someone go about simplifying one's life? How can we escape consumerism?
Who else is doing this? Who else can share helpful experiences with me?
Why is simplicity important? Because the world is not as it should be. A glance at a newspaper, a quick look at statistics for global poverty, starvation or the increasingly damaging effects of pollution demonstrate that more clearly than sometimes we'd like.
Simplicity is a way for you to "be the change you want to see in the world", a lifestyle path and philosophy that will help you to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem of overconsumption that is causing both poverty and climate change. Much has been written on the subject of simplicity and how it relates to global justice, but here are a few bits and pieces to get you started:
- Some of bestselling Christian author, Richard Foster's principles for simplicity
- A Simplicity FAQ
- A rather scholarly article explaining what simplicity is, from BWC
Simplicity sounds lovely, but how does one achieve it? There are practical ways we can change our lives as well as our thinking, and allow God to change our hearts.
Practical ways to approach simplicity are separated here into the practical, spiritual and activist. Or:
Click any one of the sections above to explore what we've added to date. And please feel free to mail us any ideas, prayers or tips of your own.
There are many websites, organisations and events aimed at moving the world on from consumerism to a kind of simplicity. Join in and bring a Christian perspective and the alternative vision of simplicity with you.
Here are some of them:
- The Simple Way is a 'New Monastic' movement, started by Shane Claiborne, where people live out their Christian faith in service of peace and the poor. Find out more about their radical brand of discipleship.
- Another Way, part of the Story of Stuff project, has a list of orgnaisations working on ethical and responsible consumption. Some of them are America-focused, but several are international.
- Breathe are a Christian community seeking to free people from consumerism and promote simplicity. Read their stuff and find out how to participate in their blog.
- Buy Nothing Day is on 27 November this year. It's an international day of protest against consumerism and we urge you to take the plunge and engage in a consumption fast.