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Simply living well

29 April 2016

URGENT and challenging issues, both socially and theologically, are tackled in Just Living: Faith and community in an age of consumerism (Hodder & Stoughton, £13.99 (£12.60); 978-1-473-61333-1). Ruth Valerio, author of L is for Lifestyle, explores seven features of a well-lived Christian life — a concern for global, social issues; an ecological concern; a right use of money and material goods; ethical consumerism; an active engagement in local community; a faith that engages all our lives, particularly in advocacy; and a healthy balance in our use of time.

Much has been written about simpler lifestyles, and some have been inspired to embrace the ideas. The book has excellent stories and examples, but the author rightly points out that simple living has to be worked out within a much broader context, and that the issues are not “optional extras” for a minority of Christians, but central components of what it means to follow Jesus today. And, while action will take “courage, determination and commitment”, there will be fun along the way.

The author’s hope is that the Church is recovering an environmental theology. But, while the “sleeping giant” is beginning to wake up, it is still woefully slow when it comes to taking wider creation care seriously in its actions. Valerio’s vision is that it should be as commonplace for the Church to be engaged in acts of environment care as it is for it to be engaged in acts of community and social involvement.

This is a very thorough and well-written book that could scarcely be more timely; for, with climate change likely to descend into climate chaos unless urgent action is taken by governments and by all of us, the beautiful world that God created faces real danger.


John Madeley is the author of A People’s World (Zed Books, 2003).

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