Feb 2 2011

A Call to Simplicity

whitetail buckOne of my best friends called me a few minutes ago to seek advice on eliminating some clutter in his life.  With his wife’s help he had come to the conclusion that he had accumulated too much stuff and needed to get rid of some things.  His call seemed ironic for this subject is one I’ve been thinking about this past week.  It’s been on my mind because my wife, as well, said a couple of days ago that we need to give away some clothes and also because of some reading I’ve been doing.  Earlier this week I read a chapter in James Bryan Smith’s book The Good and Beautiful Life called “Learning to Live Without Avarice.”  In this chapter Smith warns of the dangers of avarice and greed to the spiritual life.  He issues a call for simplicity and as a suggestion for “soul training” encourages his readers to practice “deaccumulation.”

Last night before going to bed I read a chapter in Matthew Sleeth’s book, The Gospel According to the Earth, called “Simplicity and Consumerism.”  Using the Book of Philippians as a guide Sleeth also warns of the dangers of consumerism and calls for a better and more biblical approach to life and things—simplicity.  He, like Smith, sees the accumulation of stuff as a threat to the spiritual life but Sleeth also sees it as a threat to Creation.  This offers even more impetus to practice simplicity.  He writes: “Simplicity helps us disconnect from the worldly concerns that destroy God’s creation and, instead, engage in redemptive actions that heal.”

Cumberland-Falls-raccoon-635Towards the end of the chapter Dr. Sleeth goes on to say, “The earth is being dug up, cut down, and dismantled to meet the needs and cravings of a population that can only be satisfied with newer, better, and more.  The way to cut back on the misuse of resources is to live more simply and be content with what we have.”  In his conclusion he adds, “Simplicity allows us to be transformed by God’s grace into people who take care of God’s creation, rather than destroy it.  It helps us do what we cannot do alone to save the planet.”

Long ago Henry David Thoreau urged people to “simplify, simplify, simplify.”  It would seem that this is also the message I’m hearing from God these days.  For the sake of my soul and for the good of Creation I must make some changes.  What about you?


(I took the whitetail buck image in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the raccoon at Cumberland Falls State Park.)