Monday, 1 December 2008

A Manifesto for Simple Living

A couple of months ago I explained how a sermon by my friend Phil had changed my life.

In it I posed many questions that were raised in me. (I think the best sermons often pose as many questions as they answer. Not what do we now know, but what need to now change!)

Phil has responded to this by going through the questions and putting forward some more thoughts.

In my opinion, he is not far off having compiled a very useful Christian MOT in the area of living simply. I would love to see this be the basis of some sort of little booklet, with each chapter posing a different question.

I was doing a session with our year project students about money and possessions and used my blog post and then Phil's responses to open up a discussion about our own attitudes and ideas. I talked to the students about what I would regard as "conversational" theology. Where one statement or suggestion sparks others, and so the message becomes clearer that God is speaking. We had a fabulous discussion that easily swallowed up the two and a half hours I had set aside for it. We wrestled with these issues.

What about living simply then? What about it?

- what about the consumer dream?
- what about the environment?
- what about consumption?
- what about the way we label success?
- what about generosity?
- what about the desire for ownership?
- what about sharing?
- what about the goal of our lives being the accumulation of wealth?
- what about how we approach debt?
- what about trade justice?
- what are the desires of our hearts?
- what about community?
- what about our security?
- what about the future?

Somehow I don't think I could have expressed what I wrote in spoken word. Somehow I was more free to write it, to blog it. That appears to have evoked a response in Phil that this message needs to be heard and the word is coming alive in people's hearts through his challenge and encouragement.

Now he does not just have a slightly emotional blog post from a friend thanking him. He has a manifesto for simple living to continue to build upon.

I have not got too far into Proverbs yet, but when I get to chapter 27 this will have a bit of extra meaning and I shall think of Phil.

" 17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another."

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