J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Book Review: Simple Life

simple life“Simple Life” is the new book from Thom and Art Rainer, and it is definitely not about the exploits of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.  It continues the thought and application of the “Simple Church” book from Thom Rainer and Eric Gieger, but here the focus is on cleaning away the clutter of your personal life rather than your congregation’s.  The book’s thesis is simple:

We were not created to have miserable joyless lives.  We were created to have abundant and joyful lives.  But for most of us, such a life is elusive at best and seemingly impossible at worst.

The book is an analysis of 41    questions asked to 1,077 people.  The takeaway was that most people want to simplify their lives in 4 areas:  time, relationships with others, money, and their relationship with God.  The book’s prescription for the simple life is also in quantities of 4.  They recommend clarity, movement, alignment, and focus.

Towards that end, and what I see as one of the most profound truths offered in the book, they say this:

What is true in many churches is true in many lives.  Activities are replacing purpose.  We are so busy doing activities that we are neglecting what really matters.  And most of you don’t really need this book to address this reality.  You already know it…Often activities replace the important matters that help relationships grow.

Having said all that, the book is pretty practical in helping people clear away the activities (even the good ones) that are making their life overly complicated.  Each chapter ends with a task or checklist to help you find simplicity in each of the four prescripted areas.  Included also are interviews and testimonials with some of the people who have walked the path of simplicity ahead of the reader.  Their honesty is helpful.

However, the testimonials are one of two criticisms I have of the book.  Many times, they are inserted without much of a warning.  You will be reading the authors discussion of alignment or focus and then a testimony will begin.  I generally think they are helpful, but sometimes it takes a second to figure who is speaking.

My other criticism is that the authors continually recommend 3 products:  “The Love Dare,” “Fireproof,” and “Facing the Giants.”  While the lessons from these products are relevant and applicable, at times, they feel like extended advertisements for products at Lifeway bookstores.

If a person were to read this book with a desire for real change, it could really help.  Perhaps it could persuade someone to change, but like the authors said, you don’t really need this book to address that reality.  But I cannot imagine if someone was willing to do all the work at the end of each chapter, it wouldn’t make a big difference.

56585199If you want to pursue simplicity, read this book.  You can find more information from the authors at http://thomrainer.com/.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.

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September 28, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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