In this brief book, (105 pages to be exact), Joshua Becker, author of Becoming Minimalist, husband and father of two, invites the reader to explore the lifestyle of minimalism through examining Jesus’ thoughts on possessions, revealing his personal journey towards living a life with less and it’s ensuing benefits. If you’re already too excited to read the rest of this review, click here to visit the books website or grab your own copy on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Throughout this book, I was prompted to consider several concepts: 1) all hearts desire greater things than the pursuit of possessions 2) we are happier and more fulfilled when our lifestyle mirrors this truth 3) the benefits of owning less far outweigh the sacrifices (and these benefits are described in great detail). Becker writes:
The heart knows that possessions don’t equal joy. We know intuitively that happiness is not found in owning more. Instead, happiness is found in the pursuit of the lasting passions that God has placed in our hearts
Further, I was persuaded to critically look at culturally influenced interpretations of scripture with regard to possessions. Specifically, in reference to Luke 6:20 which reads in part “…blessed are you who are poor…”. Becker describes how in his experience the word poor was interpreted as spiritual poverty (a neediness for God) rather than just plain poverty as it says. The spiritual poverty interpretation potentially diverts our attention from an important message; perhaps it is better and even a blessing to have less. It is countercultural (to say the least) to imagine a blessed life with minimal possessions. I was impressed by the use of scriptures in this regard and even experienced a personal “aha” moment.
However, I was NOT asked to throw away my possessions and live in poverty. Rather, I was encouraged to examine my values and priorities and to contemplate the effectiveness of my possessions in upholding and nurturing those values and priorities. I found this to be a far more relatable and inspiring approach.
I believe this book book will appeal to a few types of readers: 1) individuals wanting to understand minimalism from a biblical perspective 2) those who have no idea what minimalism is and 3) those who are tentative about the lifestyle but may have a spark of curiosity. Though this book is geared toward a younger audience, I think it is perfectly suited for adults and is well worth the read.
Perhaps it’s the lure of spring, but I find myself on a minimalist cleaning spree. I’ve discovered the formula for a clean home: less stuff = less stress (I love it). Though I think I freaked out my husband when I suggested we sell our DVDs, most of my books, photography stuff, etc. Then I explained to him why I was spazzing out and he knowingly smiled (no worries, we still have the DVDs). Back to my point, so naturally what does any nerd do when on a new kick?! Read about it! I discovered this book while looking up blogs on minimalism.
The blog is theminimalists.com. Two 31 year old guys just like me (well 31, not the guy part), discovered deeper value in life than amassing stuff (aka stress bearing consumer crud). It’s a short read that follows their six figure salary, workaholic, empty lives to an eventual crossroads. They decided to follow the road less traveled (particularly by young folks) to find meaning in life beyond the tireless pursuit of wealth, possessions, and approval. I have to say this book got a little deep! I was especially surprised by the chapter on relationships. This book isn’t just about stuff but the pursuit of a quality life. This includes relationships and devoting energy to quality relationships rather than being lured by the black hole of negative and/or periphery relationships. Ever notice how a co-worker or acquaintance can have more impact on your happiness (or lack there of) than a spouse or loved one? No bueno! The book also described anchors, the things that weigh us down and prevent us from being free. Anchors can be debt, negative relationships, stuff, passionless careers, poor health (due to bad decisions), etc. The book is blunt and sincere and I’m glad I read it. You can check it out here.
To my embarrassment I had to do some research to re-acquaint myself with the public library. I wont get into the details but lets just say I tried to use the auto-return kiosk in the lobby and swiftly gave up avoiding the risk of being made fun of by after-school teenagers. I actually had to scan the barcode of the book and press some buttons on a touch screen, etc. I thought, “C’mon! I have an iPhone, MacBook Pro and I’m a full-time administrator, e.g., I spend all day on the computer!” Well, I took another stab at it, walked past a new crop of lobby teens, head level and forward facing, I scanned my book with some degree of confidence. Thank goodness it worked! Next, is the whole e-book phenomenon. To my overwhelming joy, you can check out a book and have it sent directly to your Amazon Kindle account! I don’t have a Kindle but I have the app! The book is sent wirelessly and instantaneously to my iPhone. You’re probably thinking, “that rocks!” Well, again I had to figure out how to check out the stinking book! There’s a separate webpage for it, then I have to put a hold on it, then add it to my cart, then log into Amazon, on and on…
For the first time in a long time, I understand what its like to have technology elude me. I used to make fun of Jitter Bug phones and any other fogey friendly gadgets. Now I find myself trying to catch up, reading manuals at Barnes & Noble to learn the new, new operating system of every gadget I have! I can see myself (in the not too distant future), overwhelmed by the speed of progress, nestled in the back of an old school coffee shop with my fogey paperback book, journal, pen, non-confusing coffee drink, breathing a little easier. But for now, it’s off to the races!