To begin this year’s non-fiction reading journey through Lent, I picked up a book I’d looked at a couple of times before: Will Samson’s Enough. Ironically, since it’s a book that talks about escaping consumerism and being content with “enough stuff,” I actually bought a paper copy of it. Oops.
I’ve enjoyed Will’s previous book, Justice in the Burbs, co-authored with his wife Lisa who explored the same ideas about Christians and social justice in fictional form in Quaker Summer. Having read those books (and many others with similar themes), I wasn’t surprised by anything in Enough, although I was, as always, challenged to try to do more about having less.
If you’re interested in a Christian perspective — written mainly for conservative North American evangelicals who haven’t perhaps given enough thought to these issues — on why consumerism is bad and we, as well as our planet, would be better off if we all bought less stuff, this is a book you should check out. At this point in my life, I’m fairly deeply committed to these ideas (though still falling short in the practice). I find when I read books like this I’m looking for a little more. I want someone to explain to me in clear and simple language what a more just world might look like if more of us started practicing it, which would include filling in some of the blanks in my very inadequate understanding of economics. Specifically, I’d like to have a better understanding of how to cope with (what appears to me to be) the conundrum that the rich and middle-class are consuming too much of the world’s resources and they should be shared more fairly, but that same consumption provides jobs for the poor, who would presumably be even worse off if we bought less stuff. I know there are answers to these questions out there, but I haven’t yet found the book that addresses them well. Anyone have any suggestions?
In the meantime, you should probably read Enough. It’s good, well-written, and not preachy.