I WOULD LIKE to respond to some of Ann McClenahan's concerns regarding the "simple living movement" ("Lives of Compassion and Meaning," July-August 2000). First, while it is true that there may be some marketing and faddishness going on in this area, a number of authors have been writing about these themes for a long time. An authentic simplicity is always connected to issues of justice. The way we live, think, what we buy or make, all has an impact on our neighbors. Thus Wendell Berry speaks of both "marketing resistance" and productive, community based economics as opposed to globalist greed. Martin Luther King Jr. writes about his concerns regarding an idolatry of technology and materialism. Gandhi thought simplicity was not only a just and healthy way for the wealthy, but psychologically and financially healthy for the poor. The abolitionist John Woolman was an early American promoter of fair trade, responsible consuming, and freedom for slaves. All of the above were following the biblical call to "consider the lilies," to "seek first the Kingdom," and also to condemn idolatry.
Finally, an authentic attitude of simplicity will not be "nostalgic," but it will look with a critical eye on each new thing promoted by the corporate media. It will be both a spiritual and economic choice to desire what is truly needed and real.