The Accidental Green Life

How Christian Piety Can Grace the Earth

But sometimes we forget these daily graces and try to create and renew ourselves, particularly through the promise of ownership. As Foster wrote in Freedom of Simplicity, "Contemporary culture is plagued by the passion to possess. The unreasoned boast abounds that the good life is found in accumulation …. We often accept this notion without question, with the result that the lust for affluence in contemporary society has become psychotic: it has completely lost touch with reality."

In response to this psychosis, Foster suggests "unplugging from the consumptive society." Many of his ideas for an unplugged life, for acts of simplicity, sound similar to discussions about living green. Here are just a few:

* resist obsolescence
* stress quality of life over quantity of life
* make recreation healthy, happy, and gadget-free
* eschew food produced with poisonous chemicals
* compost kitchen scraps
* eat out less
* buy things for usefulness rather than status.

And the list goes on.

Such lists can begin to feel unwieldy, even disconnected from the work of faith. So it's perhaps helpful to revisit Colossians to remember the foundation that quietly suggests the list. "In him all things hold together." Thus to be at his side as a craftsman in a consumptive society means we affirm Christ's ongoing work of creation; our simplicity list is valuable inasmuch as it supports and shows gratitude for Christ's sustaining work.

If we have no simplicity list, we might begin to wonder, Are we grateful for his sustaining work? Or are we working against Christ, essentially tearing apart, through the spoils of our excess, the very creation he holds together? And if we're tearing apart the creation he holds together, how does that imply we're acting toward Christ himself?


Fasting can make us grateful that we're being held together and can help us appreciate the daily graces of simple food and water. Adele Calhoun adds that fasting "exposes how we try to keep empty hunger at bay and gain a sense of well-being by devouring creature comforts." Fasting, then, can be a sister practice to simplicity.

Like certain aspects of simplicity, fasting depends on embracing a limit, deciding to live with a particular hunger and putting aside the temptation to devour. Much of the dialog today about green living broaches the concept of limits. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, for instance, Barbara Kingsolver raises the issue. She is perhaps somewhat sensationalistic in expression, but her words nonetheless cleverly probe us.

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May 25

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