A friend of mine just linked to this article on creating a life plan that is a promo for a new book on the topic coming out soon.
I’m seeing more and more of a theme here.
I subscribe to Pixel of Ink which sends me a daily email of free and reduced-cost Kindle books. It’s usually fluff reading (and, let’s face it, I’m not above fluff reading…), but I’ve been noticing over the past months a not insignificant trickle of books on organizing, simplicity, and minimalistic living.
Indeed, a quick google on “minimalist living” produces 19.5 million results in half a second…
Too, I’ve already written a bit about this topic when talking about the book Essentialism
Here’s the thing. The dominant culture is looking for answers when it comes to questions of ultimate purpose, how to organize life and its immediate material manifestations, and how to structure time and experience and environment in ways that align with purpose.
To the church I must ask this question: What exactly is our problem!?!
Particularly thinking of us as an expression of liturgical (which is all about habits and patterns) Christianity (which is all about living into and living out God’s reconciliation with humanity and all creation through Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) which is an heir of the Benedictine/Cistercian/Franciscan traditions (which emphasize discipline, clarity, and intentional simplicity), why are we not out front of all of this stuff? Why are we not offering a clear purpose undergirded by helpful pathways into proven disciplines for simple, intentional living? Why are we not viewing this urge towards purpose and simplicity as a classic praeparatio evangelica that is predisposing and asking leading questions of a seeking culture for something we’ve already found?
This ought to be right in our wheelhouse; but it’s not.
There’s part of me that wonders if the problem here is that we haven’t constructed the “missional” opportunity in these terms. That is, we haven’t said amongst ourselves, look—here’s an opportunity for us. They’re asking questions we have answers to. Now, here’s how we marshall our experience, tradition, and resources to provide a coherent answer to the population of people who are clearly asking these questions.
I suspect that’s a piece of it.
My fear, though, is that it’s not the bigger part of the answer. I think the bigger part of the answer is that we’re still part of that population who is looking for this same thing…
Speaking for myself, at least, we need to get our act together and figure out how our tradition has been telling us to do this all along, then actually do it, before we can credibly present it to others.
And there we have it: a simple (though certainly not easy!!) and central task for Christian spirituality in the 21st century West.