Like many Western Christians, North Carolina pastor Lee Hull Moses struggles with the contrast between the abundance in which she lives and the needs of the world around her. In More Than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess, she pokes and prods the question. In a world marked by genocide, hunger, low wages, and unsafe working conditions (this list could go on, of course), "how do we live . . . in a way that honors God and shows gratitude for the good life we are living."
I have read a number of books on this general theme. I was pleased the she made no reference to sharing a lawnmower with your neighbors or to checking out books from the library instead of buying them. Her goal isn't really to give practical tips for simple living, but to reflect on living in these United States of Abundance.
She does address the simple living perspective to which I referred. She points out that "there's something significantly different between choosinga simple life and having one forced upon you. . . . The choice to live simply is, in many ways, another by-product of privilege." What a great point. While Americans may choose ways to live more simply, doing so while surrounded by abundance, without a larger purpose, can become the opposite of simple.
Moses makes some great points about short-term missions. She is a friend and fan of missionaries and their work, and writes with fondness about visiting her missionary friends in Nicaragua. But she warns that short-term mission trips often "serve to reinforce stereotypes, increase dependency on foreign assistance, and serve as a sort of 'poverty tourism' for the travelers." Churches interested in missions should not be satisfied to "fly in for a week and paint a house and come back with pictures to share at the church supper on Wednesday night." Ideally, churches won't "stop at for but move toward with."
Moses also makes some great points about hunger. "We've somehow created a system in which we know how ot produce more than enough food for everyone, but still there are hungry people in the world." "In a country where we have the resources and the technology and the know-how to grow more food than we can possibly eat, how come there are hungry people in the first place?" She points out that government agricultural subsidies lean heavily toward crops used for making processed foods, resulting in relatively higher prices for fresh produce and other non-processed foods.
Moses doesn't offer much in the way of solutions. Her forte is reflection. Her reflections are personal, in some cases reprinted from blog entries, giving the book the feel of a loosely-related collection of essays around a broad theme. Personal though they are, her reflections easily translate to the rest of us.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!