The Simple Way

Things are different on the interwebs. I knew that. I just didn't know HOW different.

I reactivated my profile on a free online dating site, and suddenly there are eligible bachelors left and right who are fascinated with my views, and this experiment... and suddenly, me. See, I've always thought that what makes me sexy is my personality, but I had no idea what a difference putting my personality out there in one big chunk (a profile) would make. I just talk about my views and what I want, and talk about the experiment, and of course there are a few pics...

And man, I have NEVER gotten so much exposure for this blog. I get at least one long, passionate message per day about someone's struggle with appearance and (more often) religion, how they have XYZ view but no one else sees it that way (except me, apparently). They're pleasantly intrigued by the (perceived) conflict between my rather liberal views and the fact that I'm going into ministry. It's been a relieved flood of, "TOTALLY! You're so unusual, let's talk about that!" And I would love to, but much to my utter delight, it turns out I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

In fact, there's a whole movement afoot. Oh yes. The Simple Way is one of these movements, and incredibly, not only does it align with my religious and ethical views, but it also aligns with the Experiment.

Shaine Claiborne in his book, Irresistible Revolution, has this to say about the changing landscape of religiosity in America:

"There are many false prophets (and false profits) out there, and all kinds of embarrassing things have been done in the name of God. Religious extremists of all faiths have perverted the best of our traditions. But there is another movement stirring, a little revolution of sorts. Many of us are refusing to allow distorted images of our faith to define us. There are those of us who, rather than simply reject pop evangelicalism, want to spread another kind of Christianity, a faith that has as much to say about this world as it does about the next.... There is a movement that is bubbling up that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of." (Emphasis mine)

So what does this movement look like? In broad strokes, it looks like simply following Jesus, but not in the way we've come to think of it. Here, "Following Jesus," means actually leaving all your worldly things behind to live with and work for and help the poor. It means leaving megachurches that spend $200,000 on a stained-glass window of Jesus for their sanctuaries; it means spending time not in youth groups with velcro walls, but in taking those youth out to actually interact with kids their age who live on the streets and helping them with their homework.

Overall, Claiborne is advocating for voluntary poverty so that we cause no one to suffer from our materialism, and then living in community with our neighbors (yes, even and especially the drug addicts and single mothers) to get our needs met. For years now, I've been joking that I want to go live in a cave so I can get out of a way of living that just seems more and more ludicrous to me.

That said, I am NOT ready to take the steps Claiborne advocates.

However, I stopped eating meat years ago because of its impact on the environment and the rest of mankind. Then I started this experiment, and I somehow have a lot more money in my bank account because I no longer spend it on cosmetics, cosmetics that are basically just more crap we don't need. I'm supporting the beauty paradigm less, and suddenly I find that I'm so in love with life that I barely have time to date... which of course, drives guys wild. (Mwa ha ha.)

I've taken steps towards being a "new kind of Christian" as Claiborne puts it, without realizing that many of us are choosing to do the same. We are looking at the costs of our perfect lives and wondering, "Is my having access to fast food worth the cost to the ecosystem?" Is "The American Way" worth the dignity and lives of more than 75% of the world's population? More to the point, is this really Christian?

Um... NO. Sorry. Love of material wealth and oppression of the poor = bad. So sayeth the Big J (I'm paraphrasing), but we refuse to see that we're no longer the oppressed; we're the oppressors, and those who know Jesus' message are the ones who should most know better. Our problem is, we don't want to hear that message because we know that in order to live justly, we have to give up a lot. Kierkegaard said:

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly... My God, you will say, If I do that my whole life will be ruined."

As I read this book, I'm thinking about TME, and how I plan to end it. At first I thought I would just go back to how I was before, but with better self-esteem; I thought I would be more conscious of my footprint on the world, but I'd still go back to thinking about my hair all the time and worrying about my makeup. But now... should I do that?

Knowing what I know after a year of Christian Ethics and Economics courses, and seeing my views reflected in a movement that I respect more than I can say; being a member of the kind of church I've always wanted to be a part of (Praxis United Church of Christ), would it be right of me to go back to a ton of makeup and hair styling and stuff? Feeling so strongly about this movement towards simplicity and responsibility, would I even enjoy the beauty rituals any more?

All this being said, I still drive a car which requires maintenance. I shop for food (because I don't know how to raise buffalo) and use electricity to run this big, shiny computer. I am not ready to go live on the streets, or quit school.

But I AM ready to claim my spot as a member of a movement that realizes that we don't have to live like this, under the tyranny of words like "pretty" and "wealthy" and "successful." All we have to do is make the choice to put it down; for some of us, that means leaning on God, or Jesus, to give us the strength to do it.

What a feeling! I'm just gonna say it: Praise God!


  1. Yaaay! Miss you, lady. (Wait til you see my nose stud. IT. LOOKS AWESOME.)