Simple Living Works!

Posts Tagged ‘justice


Simply Enough Re-issued!

What a thrill and honor that the video “Simply Enough: Straight Talk from Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne on Simply, Just Living” lives on as “Choose Justice: A Daily Lifestyle.” Produced and distributed by World Vision Canada, version 2.0 is indeed a beautiful package and engaging educational tool.

The approach has been changed from a visual dialog with a straightforward Study/Action Guide, to an extensive Conversation Guide with supportive video clips. The vibrant colors and bald list of questions of the original guide, have been replaced with a more extensive, literate guide with more subdued colors. The original music, carefully chosen for each of the six segments, has been replaced with generic music throughout. (From a practical standpoint, this is completely understandable. The new version does not require permissions from the original musicians.)

The Bible verses for each segment have been changed and more contemporary quotations added. My straightforward narration has been removed. Each segment takes five pages in the 40 page guide instead of one page in the 12 page original. The 71 minutes of the original have been reduced to 55 minutes and the 38 minutes of Bonus segments have been dropped.

The beautiful heart of “Simply Enough” remains in “Choose Justice” – the personal, touching stories of Tony and Shane, and the focus on Christian lifestyle, especially as we relate to the poor of the world. The helpful, engaging guide can be copied for group use.

Although the hundreds of left-over copies of “Simply Enough” were sold in bulk when Alternatives was dissolved in 2011, they are not easy to find. Shane’s “The Simple Way” ( has a few copies left in their store for $20.

Copies of “Choose Justice” are available at (for $30 Canadian) and at for $10US.

Though there are no references in the new version to the original producers (my son and I), the adventure of making the video is still online at There you can find the text of original study/action guide, photos of the crew at the filming, graphics of the original support materials, a link to most of the dropped Bonus Segments, etc.

Thank you, World Vision Canada, for keeping this inspiring educational tool alive!

Recent video interview of Tony and Shane about Choose Justice (15:00+/-)

Peace, Gerald

1-A1311Our families, our church, our social circle may think we’re peculiar. It may mean dealing with resentment when others don’t “get it.” When we are making corrections, living more responsibly and others don’t seem to have the slightest inclination to change their wasteful ways. Living Simply faces challenges, powerful forces.

It’s important to find another Simple Liver,  start a support group or connect with a Simplicity Circle.

Voluntary Simplicity is not romanticizing poverty, monks, the Amish or people who struggled through the Depression. That can diminish those people’s devotion or struggle, and to make the journey of discipleship look silly or “for others/unrelated to us,” untouchable. Poverty is NOT fun. Two thirds of the world population live in poverty Involuntarily. We have a choice.

We make choices about how we’re going to live — our micro-economy. Our little choices may or may not have impact on how governments or corporations operate on a large scale – the macro-economy.  None-the-less, we live within or below our means, avoid debt, give generously to the needy.


The Common Good Podcast #28: Simple Living – Practical Implications (audio)

How to Influence Others (text)

Also of interest:

What’s Happened to Simple Living?

The Five Life Standards of Living More with Less (series)

What Is Voluntary Simplicity?

Peace, Gerald

305PetersdancingpersonWhat’s Simple Living Works! all about? SLW! is an all-volunteer non-profit educational organization that equips people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly.

Let’s break that down.

Simple Living Works! equips people of faith to

1. challenge consumerism

Consumerism. That’s our national religion! It tells us every day that you will find happiness and meaning in life though stuff. That thing you bought, it didn’t work for you. Oh, I’m so sorry. Here try this instead. That didn’t work? Here, try this instead. The purpose of most commercial advertising is to keep the customers perpetually dissatisfied. . . so they will continue to fill their own personal spiritual voids with stuff.

We tell a different story. We will find happiness and meaning in life through relationships. There are four basic relationships. The first one is with ourselves, getting to know ourselves honestly in a culture that is full of self deception. The second is our relationship with our friends and colleagues. . . people here in the church, people we work with, our relatives, and hopefully a few brothers and sisters around the globe. The third relationship is with God’s creation. Being good stewards of the soil, the air, the water, as well as the animals and plants. And the fourth, the most important one, of course, is our relationship with God. Those relationships will give us happiness and meaning in life. Stuff gives us a thrill when we get something new. But over the long haul it disappoints.

2. live justly

Let’s make an important distinction between charity and justice because some people think they are the same. Charity is when we give our money and our time to help meet people’s short term needs or to work for worthwhile causes. Very important work. Justice is different. Justice is when we work to change the system that makes charity necessary.

There are three basic ways that we can work for justice. The first one is to work to change political policies. I’ve heard a rumor that there are a few policies in this country that can stand changing. The second one is to work to change corporate procedures. We can do that by applauding those corporations that are beginning to work for the sustainability of the Earth and we can decry those businesses that continue to gobble up the Earth. Even boycott them! Let’s focus on the third. That’s to look at our own life styles because all things are connected. Our buying decisions do have an impact on people around the world. So the third one is our primary focus. That’s a little about the difference between Charity and Justice. But I would really like to give you a crass example. Maybe you’ve heard some variation of this example, “OK, pastor, I’ll give a hundred dollars for that poor soul over there in Africa but don’t talk to me about my car.”

3. celebrate responsibly.

Quiz time. What does the average American wedding cost today? $23,000, you’re getting close. $25,000, closer. It’s $27,850. It’s because of that that we produced a little book a while back — the Alternative Wedding Book. And it has been updated recently. It helps brides and grooms and their parents and their pastor with two things — first, an attitude change that it’s OK to have a simpler wedding, and second with nuts and bolts ideas about how to go about doing that. This book is 125 pages. The average issue of Bride’s magazine is 900 pages. So, you can see what we are up against.

That’s our mission statement — equipping people of faith challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly. Three segments of the VIDEO “Simple Living Works!” describe the mission. Click on each above to go to YouTube.

If I were to take the 150+ educational and inspirational resources on the SLW! site and try to divide them up neatly under one of the three parts of the SLW! Mission, it would be fruitless. Almost all of them would fit under all three . . . because the three parts of the Mission work together, they are intimately interwoven.

For example, our best known resource, the Advent/Christmas annual Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? most obviously strives to equip people to celebrate responsibly. But that means challenging consumerism. . .  and living justly.

Beyond the mission are more specific GOALS.

1) “Heightening awareness in an increasingly larger audience about the implications of consumerism and commercialization in the celebrations of Christmas and other holidays.”

2) “Diverting persons and institutions from over-consumption to a more just distribution and stewardship of funds and other resources.”

3) “Providing a bridge between those concerned about peace, justice and sustainability of creation whether within religious institutions or outside them.”

Sounds quite contemporary, yet this mission and goals were written over 20 years ago.

They also sound quite practical. Some simple living groups focus on the personal, spiritual aspects. Alternatives may start there but always goes beyond the personal to the community and to the global.

Also of interest: What’s Happened to Simple Living?

Peace, Gerald

afsli026Family Journey

My spouse Rita and I read Doris Janzen Longacre’s classic “Living More with Less” in 1982, and it has become one of the most important books in our lives. We serialized it for radio. Then we serialized the Alternate Celebrations Catalog by a group in Georgia called Alternatives.

Even after the radio series was over, people would give Rita a funny look when we’d meet on the street. And after a bit one would say, “You’re the Simple Living lady, aren’t you.” She was the talent (the voice) and I was the techie.

We became members of Alternatives, and in August of 1995 they asked me to lead the organization. Since then I have given over 300 presentations on Voluntary Simplicity. Have you ever felt that everything you have done in your life has lead up to this point? That’s how I feel. Some call it synchronicity. I call it the call of God.

We consider ourselves earnest but not condescending about simple living. We built and lived in a geodesic dome with solar panels. We wear mostly recycled clothes. We love to laugh.

And why do we stick with voluntary simple living? While we boycott greedy mega-corporations and protest laws from bought politicians, we can still control our own lives. It’s far more than wearing our favorite old clothes and growing a few tomatoes. Voluntary simple living is a comprehensive, faithful way, with generosity, not legalism nor self-centered libertarianism. It is about community, not survivalism. It is effective and satisfying, not based on fad, convenience or deprivation.

I have served as an Associate in Ministry (AIM) in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) for 25 years. Prophetic ministry shows people the logical consequences of their life choices. It’s different than pastoral ministry, which focuses on worship, education and outreach. Pastoral ministry tends to avoid controversy. Prophetic ministry embraces controversy.

“Living More with Less” has been central to my ministry. We have produced numerous resources to help others. Most of them are available on the SimpleLivingWorks web site – text, audio, video.

OK, this is a tutorial, or continuing education, if you prefer. This series is in six parts – this intro and then one for each of the five Life Standards. I hope you’ll snoop around the other resources between weekly installments.

1. Do Justice – using only our fair share of the Earth’s resources

2. Learn from the World Community – openness to other cultures; reverse missions and Fair Trade

3. Nurture People, Not Things – relationships over stuff

4. Cherish the Nature Order – caring for Creation

5. Non-conform Freely – developing spiritual resistance to advertising that pressures us to buy things we don’t need

Now if you’re an over-achiever and want to skip ahead, here’s the link that has all the blogs, video, text, podcasts, etc. Or you can take it step-by-step and enjoy the ride.

Peace, Gerald

courage_brochure-frontThis collection of essays by many well-known writers takes a look at our culture and asks, “Do you have the courage to think differently?” The book is tenacious and passionate. It is a rich resource for missional thinking about the Christian church.

Written and edited by George S. Johnson.

In the Preface, Walter Brueggemann says,

Johnson sees clearly that the Gospel in its central intent is not about saving of souls, as in much traditional piety. It is about the rule of God in the world and the ways in which that rule impinges upon matters of economics and politics. Johnson has recruited a remarkable cast of our most courageous activist thinkers.

In the Foreword, Frances Moore Lappe says,

As I see it, today’s hyper-tribe, herded by global institutions of media and corporate expansion, is paddling right over Victoria Falls. That is, we appear headed toward mega-catastrophe, whether it’s the specter of massive climate dislocations, species decimation or “simply” economic inequalities so vast we can no longer communicate as a single species.

So, today, staying with the pack, which once ensured life, now means certain death for all we love. Simply put, we must break with the pack to protect life, even though it’s the scariest thing of all. That’s why I rank courage as today’s critical virtue.

And it is why I love this book. It calls us to think deeply about what it takes to “think differently.” How do we build courage? How do we spread it?

Courage to Think Differently falls squarely into several of the five Life Standards of Voluntary Simplicity – Do Justice, Non-conform Freely, etc.

Self-published with the help of friends, 300+ pages for $10 with generous quantity discounts for an Adult Forum or book club. Order direct from the publisher, or 1-800-678-7006 (or, if you dare, from

George S. Johnson is the author of Beyond Guilt and Powerlessness, Critical Decisions in Following Jesus, and co-author of Evangelism and the Poor. He has served as the Director of the Hunger Program for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Third World Opportunities. He served parishes in MN and CA, and now lives with his wife, Vivian, in Laguna Woods, CA.

Read his essay Grace Yes, But Not Only Grace.

Read my brief blog about meeting George. Click, then scroll down to Post #71.