Thursday, March 15, 2012

Has anybody else out there ever looked around at all the activity and stuff that we crowd our lives with--including inside the church walls--and thought, "there's gotta be more to this following-Jesus life than just entertaining and blessing ourselves and working so hard to appear spiritual"?  Jen Hatmaker asked the same thing, came up with an experiment aimed at rebelling against, and repenting of, all of that excess, and then she wrote about it. The result is an incredible little book called 7: An experimental mutiny against excess

Here's a response from one real-live, regular-person reader and Amazon customer Christine Hoover: 

You must read this book! Here's what it's about: Jen (the author) did an experiment in which each month for 7 months, she and sometimes her entire family fasted in an area she felt they were excessive in: media, stress, possessions, shopping, food, clothes, and waste. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that sounds all preachy and super-spiritual and hard and you don't want to read it. Thankfully, it's the complete opposite. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious, totally real-life, 100% empowering, and 0% guilt-inducing.

You must go immediately to purchase this book and devour it whole. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not stop to brush your teeth or feed your children. While you're out, buy Depends to wear because you will pee yourself while reading from laughing so hard.

Some other suggestions of how to read this book:
1) Keep a handy while you're reading to write down notes and thoughts because ideas and action points will come to you like nobody's business.
2) Do not read this book right before you go to bed because you will not be able to sleep due to the millions of thoughts running around in your brain.

Read this book with your girlfriends!

Well, [this is Pamm back], that's exactly what Ann Hutchison and I are proposing--reading the book and then, with a group of friends, accepting the 7 Challenge. No one has to do the project exactly the way Jen did it--she, herself, stresses that she didn't write the book to be used as a template but as more of a catalyst, "a fast: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in my life" (Jen). The point is to do the challenge in some way that will ultimately result in a lifestyle that focuses on those things that Jesus taught that so many of us American Jesus-followers ignore in favor of maintaining our comfort zones--things like loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves (and remember those Jesus pointed out as our neighbors? Not just those who look like us, smell like us, and vote like us. Ouch.) . . . things like taking care of orphans and widows (the ignored, the divorced, the disenfranchised), speaking for those who have no voice, seeking justice for the oppressed, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, visiting those in prison . . . 

Ann and I have already read the book, and, yeah, it's hilarious in parts (reading Jen is, on some pages, like listening to your "funnest," oldest bff catch you up on her life over a cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer and chocolate bon-bons), but just when you're about to snort said coffee out your nostrils, she zings you.  With scripture, no less. It's not for the faint of heart, peeps. 

But it's what this heart needed to hear. And it's the kind of truth that I can't just hear and then walk away from. I have to respond in some way.  Ann felt the same way (although she did say that when she finished the book, she didn't know whether to thank me or to hurt me for recommending it); she felt compelled to do something. 

Precisely because it's not for the faint of heart, Ann and I decided to partner-up to do our own 7 project. We'll each tweek Jen's ideas to fit into our individual lives (as I said, something Jen encourages), but we WILL follow her pattern for the seven monthly focuses--Month 1, food; Month 2, clothing; etc.--until we've completed each of the seven monthly focuses.  

We plan on starting April 1 (no, it's not a joke), almost two weeks away--plenty of time for some of you brave souls out there to get the book, read it, and then pray about joining us on this adventure. (Ann devoured the book in two days.)  

If you do read the book, we'd LOVE to hear from you, whether you feel led to join us in the project or to just cheer us on.  Regardless of what you chose to do, we welcome your comments, your insight, your questions. and suggestions. But at least read the book (and then, you, too, can thank me or fantacize about hurting me).  I don't believe you will ever think the same way again. About anything.  

Go on. Read it. I double-dog dare you.



PS  Ann and I figured that if we start in April, we will complete the final month in October, just before the holiday season begins.  Would you believe that the last month calls for a fast from S-T-R-E-S-S? Yeah, I think that's pretty much what I would call ordained.