Saturday, October 24, 2009

Simple Life, Thom Rainer & Art Rainer

My book review as a contributor of such for:

I have lived in both the Western world and the Eastern world. Perhaps the starkest contrast I experienced culturally between the two revolved around the topics outlined in this book: how life is experienced through the categories of time, relationships, money, and God.

Thom and Art Rainer tackle some pretty hefty subjects within this book about western culture that need to be addressed. My own life in the West is often characterized by being pressed to do more, to do it faster, and to do it better. And this pressure seeps through essentially every aspect of my life. I mean, when did it become ok to start thinking I was wasting time because I was doing something non-strategic or not adding to the “bottom line”? When did it become ok to make life so complex that God is pushed out of the equation? When did it become ok for me to get to the end of the week and realize I have spent almost no energy on the things that truly matter to me, and tons of energy pursuing things that “moth and rust will destroy”? Frankly, this is the world we inhabit in the West and a life most of us experience. A world and life that tells us if we just do more, or do it better, or try harder that we will become successful (whatever that means!!). Of course, the heart of this message is in complete contrast to the message of Jesus. It takes a concerted effort to simplify and prioritize our lives from the complex web of independence and “try harder” attitude that pervades American culture.

It would be nice to find a “silver bullet” on this topic. Rainer and Rainer do not offer that, however, I don’t think God would be glorified if there was a template for simplicity. What the Rainers do give in this book is a thoughtful, story-filled, practical guide to help individuals begin to think about how to prioritize their lives in a way that more accurately reflects their values. Perhaps the most riveting part of this book for me was the examples these men gave of people struggling in all of these areas. Of course, knowing that others struggle gives us the hope we are not all alone. And if we engage those other people properly, it give us the ability to find community, accountability, and fellowship to pursue simplicity and lives that reflect our values and what truly matters to us. So, if your values and priorities are to make as much money as possible and stay as busy as needed to do it in order to build yourself “treasures on earth”, then this book is not for you. If you value your relationship with God and community foremost and want to know steps to take to get you untangled from the devious western web of deceitful lies, then this book is for you.

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