Thursday, January 26, 2012

HELP--I'm trapped in the machine of excess!!!

Could you survive just wearing seven articles of clothing for an entire month? How about only eating seven different foods? What if you chose to give away seven items from your home each day?

Sound intriguing? Scary? Weird? And why would anyone do such a thing? Author Jen Hatmaker is asking the same kind of questions I often find myself asking: "What are we eating?" "What are we buying?" "What are we wearing?" What are we spending our money on?"

"Seven--An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess," describes Jen's social experiment: for seven months, she pared her choices down to seven items covering seven areas of her life: clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress.

This book is for suburban moms feeling the tension between the busyness, stress, and debt that characterize our lives and the desire to live more simply, slowly, and with more meaning and purpose.

This book is for anyone who cares about issues of social justice, poverty, oppression, and relieving suffering.

This book is for those that know that loving Jesus is about much more than following a set of rules and showing up at church on Sunday, but they can't quite figure out what is missing.

This book is for those who enjoy an author's razor sharp wit, sarcasm and self depreciating observations. You will laugh so hard you will pee in your pants (have Depends on standby).

Note: this is a book for everybody--those of any faith or no faith. I think we can all agree that the world would be a much better place if we slowed down, stressed less, spent more mindfully, and helped others in need.

In Jen's experiment, she learns that we all need some "white space" in our lives--disconnected from the machine of Big Marketing, materialism, over consumption, and busyness. Only when we pause does room open in our hearts and minds for the suffering and need of 7 billion other people on the planet. She learned that much suffering can be alleviated and many global problems solved if we would heed the command of Jesus to "love our neighbor as ourselves."

She grieves the fact that "While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the window, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering."

If this sounds like righteous judgement and condemnation from some hippy chick with bizarre ideas about how she is going to change the world by growing her own food and living in a tent, nothing could be further from the truth. Jen admits that she is on a journey with us, she doesn't have all the answers, and she includes plenty of stories about her lapses, bad attitudes, and justifications to prove it.

Her message is powerful and awesome. She has helped me see things in my own life with a new perspective without heaping on guilt or judgment.

I wish I could quote at least half the book on my blog post, but that would probably violate copyright and leave you with eye strain. So I'll leave you with this one, as well as a promise:

Never has so much wealth been so concentrated; our prosperity is unprecedented. If enough of us decided to share, we would unleash a torrent of justice to sweep away disparity, extreme poverty, and hopelessness. The world is waiting. Our kids are watching. Time is wasting. Are we willing?"

OK, here it is: If you read "Seven" and do not love it, I will buy it back from you. That is how much confidence I have in this book's message and the creative, humorous, and thought-provoking way Jen has written it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

"Seven" is available at Barnes & Noble and