Less is More: Spirituality for Busy Lives

I was going to Methodist Conference and wanting to take some reading with me that might be of help through the week. This title seemed like it would fit the bill, especially given the glowing endorsements on the back from Loretta Minghella (CEO of Christian Aid) and Rob Bell. - I am a sucker for a celebratory endorsement!

I found this book to be profoundly helpful in helping me to see things within a wider horizon, with depth and clarity. I used it in the morning, reading a chapter each day (they are very short). Despite Brian’s exhortation in the first chapter to ‘take it slow’ I found that I could easily take one chapter each day and most days the thoughts within it would stay with me all day. I think I would have found it harder to go much slower as the thoughts within it, although they are profound, are also simple. The book follows a reassuring pattern: it is split into six sections, each having three or four short chapters. Each chapter has a paragraph introduction, a short and thoughtful input and then a line or two from a gradually building “manifesto” of less is more. As Brian puts it, ‘The guiding principle should we dare to accept it is simple, that less somehow, is more, life is not about quantity but about quality’.

I like books to be practical and this one has helpful suggestions for living and ways of thinking and acting that might make a difference. I could imagine myself giving this to a young person about to embark on a gap year or university, to a mum with a new baby, or to my commuting friends (in fact it is a perfect daily train journey read.) Interestingly, I could give this as happily to my non-Christian friends as to my fellow Christian travellers. It is that rare book, which is Christian to its core without shouting about it. I am guessing it might get some criticism for that - it doesn’t talk about Jesus enough - but this is a book rooted and grounded in Gospel truths. I loved the eclectic mix of sources, from Eckhart Tolle to Ben Okri, via Michael McCarthy from The Independent and Fiona Reynolds from The National Trust. In fact I know I will be borrowing many of these stories and sources for sermon and talk illustrations; they have stayed with me. I have also discovered new sources, and new paths to explore, the poetry of Mary Oliver for example.

In short this book does what it says it will, it helps to slow you down, enables and encourages you to breath more intentionally in and out of the deep breath of the Spirit. I will be pinning bits of the manifesto to my fridge, my mirror and my computer. It has been a blessing to me.

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