I just finished reading Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster. It was a thought-provoking book about the spiritual discipline of simplicity; I recommend it highly. It is very well-written, and I feel like he does a good job of giving concrete suggestions for living more simply without making it seem like "10 Steps to a More Simple Life."
I've been thinking and struggling with the idea of simplicity a lot lately. My life is filled with so many things, and so much of my time is spent acquiring them. It makes me sad to think of how many hours of my life I spend shopping for and buying things. I go to Wal-Mart at least three times a week every week. But even though it is distasteful to me, it is hard for me to give that up. I enjoy buying things, even groceries. Although the idea of a simple lifestyle is appealing, it is difficult to implement the changes that would make that possible. I'm trying to make small changes and praying that God will free me from materialism and selfishness.
One interesting point Foster made in his book is that North Americans should not strive to raise everyone's standard of living to our own. If we were successful, our world would be depleted of natural resources. Part of helping the poor is drastically lowering our standard of living so that there can be a more equitable distribution of resources. Obviously, I knew that giving to the poor requires financial sacrifice, but I never thought of it requiring a drastic lifestyle shift. It is so much easier to just give money away rather than seriously evaluate our own consumption habits. This book really got me thinking. Now, I just have to do the acting, which is much more difficult.