I’m reading Enough partly for my own edification and partly in preparation of an advent series (maybe pre-advent?) on the art and joy of living simply. The courage and the empowerment of saying, “I have enough” amidst a world where everyone seems to be striving for more, seem worthy of seeking. The focus of the book, as Samson puts it is this, “this book is an invitation to reimagine the way we live.” For some people this will hold no appeal, but for many who are struggling to “succeed” in our culture, and the many who are “succeeding” in the ways people generally succeed and yet want more, this book will help you to grasp what is wrong (giving a vocabulary and diagnosis) and will offer a few pointers in how to change. I appreciated how little of this book was “how-to” and how much was the more interesting question “why?” Why do I feel no different regardless of the car I drive? Why does the art that once seemed so beautiful I was wiling to pay for disappear the moment I hang it on my walls? Why do we spend billions celebrating the birth of a refugee? Or, a la Samson, “how have we come as a culture to need more than one hundred choices of deodorant?”
One particularly intriguing section is Samson’s work on community. He seeks to address the question of how community relates to overconsumption, and thus what role might communities of faith play in this important issue. Even he knows that it seems strange to write about community in a book about consumption, “Why would I suggest something like this in a book about consumerism? Because I think a life in community is the antithesis of mindless consumerism.” He might have a point, I suggest you read him on it.
He also discusses the relationship of food, agriculture, faith, environmental stewardship, and finances to a life of enough. It’s obvious that our desire for more and more and more has large implications for the planet, our families, our finances and whatnot. Samson tries to delve into these questions thinking about how the issues might be resolved by asking where they come from in the first place.
This book is a fast and easy read with helpful insights into why we so often feel the way we do and why our churches likely aren’t helping us in this (and how they might want to start helping). It was a useful book for my purposes and it didn’t make me feel guilty and as though I must rid my house of everything I enjoy it (though I might be rid of some clutter). I suggest if you find yourself wondering, as you look out from your big house full of goods at your two cars, is this all there is?
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