Book Review

Confronting Excess

I finished reading 7 last night, and I can’t stop thinking about Hatmaker’s battle against excess. I have so much stuff. I never wonder where my next meal is coming from or where I will sleep tonight. I donated an embarrassing amount of clothing–much of it barely worn–this weekend and still have a closet full. I have a house with more rooms than I need and heat to keep me warm. I have myriad forms of entertainment available to me 24/7 and the luxury of free time to enjoy it. I am rich. I so often forget that this is a reality for a very small percentage of the world.

Of course, it’s not enough to just recognize my privilege. What does simplification look like in my life? Where are the needs in my community and how can I meet them? Where am I shopping? What am I buying? How am I treating the environment? I’m asking myself these questions knowing that it all goes back to what I read about in The Jesus Creed. Loving God and loving his people is not getting caught up in owning stuff and seeking others’ approval. It’s taking the blessings and talents I’ve been given and using them to bless others.

If it isn’t clear, I very much enjoyed 7. Hatmaker is very funny in addition to being very real. She is honest about the parts of her experiment that were hard, and she never claims to have figured everything out. Bonus: she isn’t preachy. Never once did I feel like she was telling me she had all the answers or that the only way to be a good person was to be like her. As I try to combat excess in my own life, it’s good to have someone else’s story of striving to live below her means and to be generous with what she has been given. I’m sure I will continue to struggle with excess, but I hope to be more mindful and responsible on the whole.

Lately the books I’ve been reading have had big, heavy subjects. It’s been a good start to the season of Lent for me, but I promise everything I’m reading isn’t centered on a huge spiritual question. In fact, up next is Al Franken’s Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. I look forward to jumping into this one and telling you all about it!


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