Thursday, October 8, 2009

Alternatives for Simple Living

I grew up in a Catholic Worker house in which part of our life was living simply. It was a conscious and difficult decision that we had to remake every day. The main motivation for this lifestyle was our faith. Jesus always could be found with the poor, and advocated giving up your possessions and embracing a life founded on people not objects. With all the poverty throughout the world, and the many ways that what we buy affects the poor, we tried to buy used whenever possible, and save as much energy as possible. Much of it was environmental, and being in solidarity with the poor around the world. I've always wanted to learn more about simple living and the motivation for it so that I can fully explain myself, so when I found Alternatives for simple living I was interested in reading more about faith based simplicity.

The website was founded in 1973 to "promote an alternative biblical vision of life based on voluntary simplicity, stewardship of creation, and encouraging meaningful celebrations that reflect conscientious earth friendly ways of living." They publish a magazine twice a year, have many resources, and lead a workshops. One resource from their website I think will be one of the best is a paper entitled " The Art of Simple Living." It highlights the main reasons for living simply from a religious standpoint vs. a secular one. The main point is to explain what they call the five life principles related to voluntary simplicity. They are borrowed from the book
Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre, and are:

  • Do Justice
  • Learn from the World Community
  • Cherish the Natural Order
  • Celebrate Responsibly
  • Nonconform Freely

The 5 points are explained in a logical way that paints simple living as just what is, a very good and practical way to help the planet and humankind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Source

I found the first source I examined especially interesting when I was first stumbled upon it. It is the website for a TV documentary series that aired on PBS in the late 90s (premiered in 1997) about over-consumption in America. The producers call the problems related to over-consumption and capitalism a disease called "Affluenza." I can't wait to watch some of the episodes they produced- although they are apparently kind of hard to find. The website is very in depth and has a lot of resources.

Since I'm going to be a teacher next year I was excited to see the teacher's guide to teach about this subject as well. There are even questions for viewers to use while watching and ways to promote the series. I'm glad that the website has such a vast array of resources because this will be a great tool as I write my paper. The site is laid out with different sections. On the sidebar there are the following categories: the show, the diagnosis, the treatment, and the site map and home page. I love that they approach simple living in a satirical kind of way, yet the site also offers a lot of practical ways to live simpler, and clear cut answers about the benefits of doing so. The diagnosis offers quizzes readers can take to see if they "suffer from" Affluenza. I think the episodes as well as the website are going to be helpful perspectives when I examine the art of living simply.
I found myself playing around on the website for awhile; taking the quizzes and reading facts about America's seemingly chronic over-consumption. The site also lists further resources, and reviews of the resources, that promote simplicity and sustainability. Just reading through them I was impressed at the quality and the quantity of what's out there. I'm glad that I won't have trouble trying to compile sources for this paper.