The phrase, “more than enough,” has begun to take root in church stewardship circles. Perhaps it’s a helpful reframing of “abundance” language. Additionally, it’s the title of a new book by Lee Hull Moses reviewed this week by the Center for Stewardship Leaders’ own Alex Benson. I commend it to the church.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
More Than Enough
More Than Enough by Lee Hull Moses. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 2016.
Simple living is often anything but simple. In More than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess, Lee Hull Moses sets out to examine what it means to live simply, centered on love of God and neighbor. Holding in tension grace and accountability, Moses moves beyond a checklist of do’s and don’ts and instead inspires questions to help navigate faithful living in a culture saturated in greed, consumerism, and overwork. Void of guilt trips and lofty idealism, Moses invites readers into a conversation: a conversation in which our whole and imperfect selves are welcome.
Moses argues our choices as consumers are part of a complex global network, and rarely do we find a straightforward path to faithful and just living. What conserves one resource may use more of another; what seems like the best choice on a local level may perpetuate harmful systems across the globe. Moses also rightly notes that choosing to live simply is a privilege in and of itself and should not be used to glorify the realities of those who are forced to do so. And yet, a call to love God and neighbor surely should move us to do our best to consider how our daily choices affect all of creation.
Stylistically, Moses pairs a hearty dose of humor with a vulnerable approach of her own successes and failures in seeking a lifestyle of simplicity. She draws on wisdom she’s acquired from sledding hills and trips to Costco, friends in Nicaragua and chaos around the dinner table, fast food trips and parades on rainy days. On a more theological level, Moses employs scripture and ancient Christian spiritual practices to explore topics such as creation care, privilege, mission, simplicity, consumerism, and social justice and advocacy. She argues that the Christian life provides an alternate storyline by which to live our lives, a storyline which suggests that living with “enough” does not imply scarcity but instead offers a framework for abundant life.
In each chapter, Moses puts the realities of many middle class Americans in dialogue with scripture: Narratives of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness guide us to lessons on what it means to have enough manna for each day and the value of Sabbath. The psalms give us a space to lament the perpetual cycles of environmental and social degradation, while still giving us hope that pain and scarcity are not the end of the story. Paul’s letters call us to right living while reminding us of the lavishness of God’s grace and help us grapple with the “here but not yet” nature of God’s kingdom. The gospels provide rich grounds for thinking about the radical abundance of God’s presence in and among humanity: Mary’s bold proclamation in her Magnificat, meager loaves and fishes that feed thousands, a tax collector who experiences radical transformation, and a God who enters into the messiness of what it means to be human, making our everyday choices holy.
While our choices to live simply should be met with grace for ourselves and others, Moses does not grant a free pass from faithful living. She provides a few practical tips for getting started: buy fair trade and ethically made goods whenever possible, research the ethics of the companies with which you do business, consume only as much as you need, seek out information about world financial systems, become informed about social justice issues in your own community, and recognize your own power in the political sphere. The journey will likely be a messy one, but, as Moses reminds us, we are not called to go it alone, and after all, “with God, all things are possible.”
More Than Enough is an excellent companion for anyone seeking a Christian framework to navigate simple living, particularly for those of us who feel like our own realities are caught somewhere in between those of abundance and scarcity. Readers will find in these pages a gracious conversation partner, but one who pushes us to recognize the ways in which we can grow to become more faithful stewards of all that we have and all that we are – in the midst of our very here and now realities.
For More Information
Alex Benson is an M.Div. student at Luther Seminary. She serves as program assistant and editorial fellow for the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
We invite you to attend, “Beyond Abundance: Faithful Stewardship Language to Fit Our Realities” a daylong stewardship conference at Luther Seminary, Aug. 23, 2017 (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.). For more information, and to register, visit this website.