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Living More Simply

Real Simplicity written by Randy and Rozanee Frazee is a sweeping gust of wind by the pipes of our break-neck speed lives. The Frazees intend to get their readers to not only live more simply but realize their hectic lives are in large part due to their own choices. The wisdom in this book is not about remvoing oneself from society to live in a hermitage, but rather living more simply in every area of our lives.

In the second chapter, Randy Frazee makes the point that community is the lifeblood of every believer. Not only is community a necessary component of healthy growth (personal, spiritual, physical and moral) but community is found in the original design of creation. Frazee says, "We are, after all, created with a connection requirement" (37). No, this connection requirement referred to her is not the internet. It is none other than a life and blood relationship with others, bearing with each other's burdens and sharing life together. Overall, this point is well taken in our fast paced, non-commital relationships. We can be friends with 230 people on Facebook, but how many people really know us when it counts, when things hit the fan. Randy's call to community is grounded in creation and continues throughout the whole Bible.

In the chapter on Restructing Our Relationships, the authors point out something very specific that allows for our relationships to grow. Since we don't always have the time to travel to others, the neighborhodd is a great place for the growth of community. Proximity based relationships are key because they provide fertile ground for growth since we are always aroun these people and natural conversations flow when we are around people. "It is in these frequent and spontaneous encounters that so much of the richness of life is experienced" (62). Why is this important? For one, these spontaneous encounters lead us out of our sheltered lives into the stories of others. I think that one of the greatest encouragements to foster relationships is as simple as a listening ear and an open mind. Yet, this kind of neighborhood community is not as easy as it seems. Making a circle around your neighborhood and inviting others to a pick up game is good, but we have to be willing to align our lives in such a way that everything is not about us. The challenge here is not just about neighborhoods only, but about a change of heart concerning people.

Overall, I thought this book was a good step toward providing a corrective to our fast paced lives. However, a couple of points of criticism are due also. One, the tenor of the book was about living more simply, leading lives that include others and help foster spiritual and family growth. After reading this book and looking at the steps involved, the irony sets in. A book about simplicity should call us to live more simply not just load us up with a bunch more step to follow. I guess the point is that if we get the rights things in our lives in the proper order, than simpler lives will follow. Secondly, following the Hebrew calendar is great if your lives tend in that direction. I think maybe a more fluid approach would be to plan times of meaningful engagement in our relationships regardless of time. I think the point they were trying to make is that many things like work tend to consume us if we do not have paramenters. Overall, I think the book was good movement toward making life simply, cultivating solid relationships and growing spiritually.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.


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