“Your Money or Your Life” in Simpler Living, Compassionate Life

To see a general overview of Simpler Living, Compassionate Life click here.

In this section: “Spending Money as if Life Really Mattered” by Evy McDonald (59-66); “Money” by William Stringfellow (67-72)

Many people are uncomfortable talking about money. Discussion of income, savings, or giving often makes people blanche. The taboo that the American culture places on talking about money makes conversations of faithful stewardship of one’s money difficult. However, McDonald and Stringfellow bring nuanced approaches to bear in this section, which is the first to really analyze our use of money.

McDonald shares her realization that time = money. She reflects on how her life, especially as a consumer, changed when she began asking whether an item she was considering purchasing was worth the hours of work it would take to make the money needed to buy the item. If an item is not worth the time, she moves on. McDonald’s essay doesn’t vilify money, but encourages readers to become thoughtful consumers.

Stringfellow holds a mirror to the idolization of money. His essay recognizes that the obsession with money has made it a moral measure as well. We’ve come to believe that more money = moral excellence. Stringfellow calls for freedom from this idol. He affirms that money itself is not bad, but our placing money and the acquisition of money above God is wrong.

This section calls the reader to question their own relationship with money, which is helpful preparation for later sections that will widen the scope, turning to larger societal structures.

After Simpler Living, Compassionate Life, Michael Schut also published Money and Faith: The Search for Enough. To learn more about this publication click here to be taken to his website.

Profile: Michael Schut

Image courtesy of mikeschut.com

Michael (Mike) Schut is an activist for faith-based environmental action and education. He has worked for numerous organizations in this intersection for more than twenty years. Schut is the editor and author of three books: Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian PerspectiveFood and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread; and Money and Faith: The Search for Enough. 

Currently, Schut is available for writing, retreats, conferences, and more. To contact Schut or to learn more about his work, you can access his website here.

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life edited by Michael Schut

Image courtesy of mikeschut.com

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective  (1998) grew out of a curriculum created by Michael Schut in 1996 and published by Earth Ministry. The early success of the curriculum led to its expanded publication as a larger collection. Featuring essays by Cecile Andrews, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner, and many more, this collection touches many topics surrounding humanity’s relationship to our earthly home. In addition to the essays, the book includes 70 pages of additional material to help guide communities as they engage this book, making it a wonderful choice for book groups. This book is obviously meant not just to be read, but engaged, and engaged in community most of all.

Any work attempting to examine the global economy, everyday food choices, social structures, justice, and more will confront a problem of accessibility for readers without theological or ecological degrees. However, for those willing to take the time to move a little bit more slowly and intentionally through the selections, readers will find that Schut’s careful curation has created an accessible approach to the interconnected nature of our relationship to the natural world. The authors who contribute to this collection argue for a new way of moving through the world, voluntary simplicity inspired and grounded in a Christian faith that recognizes the sacred nature of all life.

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life can be found at most major book retailers, including Amazon here, and through your favorite independent bookstore. More detailed information on the sections of the book, including reviews for each section and author profiles can be found at the hyperlinks below. (Hyperlinks currently in progress.)

I Love God’s Green Earth by Michael and Caroline Carroll

Image courtesy of tyndale.com

I Love God’s Green Earth is a three-month devotional for kids who want to connect their Christian faith to learning more about the world and how to care for it. The devotional offers ninety days of exploration of the creation and faith. Each day begins with a Bible verse and short devotional on the topic of the day. Daily connections link the devotional to personal faith and “What can I do?” gives examples of easy actions to take care of God’s creation. “Crazy facts” and jokes sprinkled throughout the devotion break up the serious topics.

A wide range of topics are covered including energy production, endangered animals, and creative solutions to recycling. In the first ten days, I was disappointed that many of the “What can I do?” sections recommended reflecting and “relaying” thoughts to God instead of specific actions that can be taken. However, after the early days, the book managed to find a balance of action and reflection in its recommendations. It also offered many websites for readers to learn more about topics they were of interest and take their own initiative in creating change. This section of the devotional also gives space for children to reflect and engage big conversations around creation care from nuclear power to endangered animals.

While it does not take as strong a stance on global warming as I would have liked, it recognizes the changing climate and acknowledges human influence on the changing climate. I was impressed by the range of topics it covered and pleased with the action suggestions. Though it was published in 2010, this book’s introductory approach to faith and care for creation has prevented it from becoming outdated. This is a wonderful resource for families and Sunday school leaders across Christian denominations. It can be purchased through most major retail sellers as well as the publisher’s website directly, which offers discounts for single and bulk purchases.

To visit the publisher’s website click here. For a 25 page excerpt of the devotional including the table of contents click here. A brief bio on author Caroline can be found here and one on Michael can be found here.

Presbyterian Eco Stewards

Presbyterians for Earth Care

Picture courtesy of presbyearthcare.org

The Eco–Stewards are a grassroots community that shapes young adult leaders through place-based experiences that connect faith and the environment. Each year, the Eco-Stewards program invites young adults to immerse themselves in a particular place to study an environmental theme. In 2018, the program will be held in Hawaii and is called Aloha ‘Aina, which means love of the earth. To read more or apply for the 2018 program, click here.

Sikh Environment Day

Picture courtesy of ecosikh.org

In 2018, Sikh communities will be celebrating the 8th annual Sikh Vatavaran Diwas (Sikh Environment day) on March 14th. It is a day for Sikhs to celebrate and reflect on their bond with the environment. Gurdwaras (local congregations) can hold divans (conferences) on nature themes  and try to inspire sangat (companies) to install solar panels, host workshops, participate in kitchen gardening, and story sessions for young children. By joining in, Sikhs across the world will share what the environment means to them, and raise awareness about the state of ecology across their spiritual homeland, Punjab. To read more or register for Sikh Environment Day, click here.

Environmental Theology in Sikhism

Picture courtesy of ecosikh.org

The Sikh scripture declares that the purpose of human beings is to achieve a blissful state and be in harmony with the earth and all creation. They believe that humans have drifted away from that ideal and that this crisis is in need of an immediate and urgent solution. The crisis requires going back to the basic question of the purpose of human beings in this universe and an understanding of ourselves and the Divine creation. To read the entire theology from EcoSikh, click here.

“Creating the world, God has made it a place to practice spirituality”

-Guru Granth Sahib, page 1035

Climate Change, Ethics, and the Field of Greed

DANCE

Picture courtesy of thedancewebsite.org

Climate Change, Ethics, and the Field of Greed is an article from the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement. The author, Victor von der Heyde, discusses human’s everyday actions and decisions and how they impact our environment. He describes how most people take more than “their share,” and this gets into ethical territory. He then talks about eight ways that people rationalize their decisions and uses Buddhist perspectives to shed light on other answers. To read the entire article, click here.

Wilderness Torah

Picture courtesy of wildernesstorah.org

Wilderness Torah is a center for earth-based Judaism in California. Their mission is to awaken and celebrate the earth-based traditions of Judaism to nourish the connections between self, community, earth and Spirit. They aim to reconnect individuals and communities to the ancient, earth-based Jewish heritage and inspire communities to care for the world. To read more about Wilderness Torah, click here.

Tu B’Shvat: The Greening of Judaism

Picture courtesy of interfaithfamily.com

Tu B’Shvat: The Greening of Judaism is a handout from Interfaith Family. It offers a brief overview of Tu B’Shvat and different activities to celebrate the holiday. It also offers examples of how to be caretakers of the earth. To read the entire handout, click here.