I have never reviewed any books on this blog before, although I have read many this year. Most books I read have some useful parts to them, some bits that make me think. However, this book is one I would happily recommend to any serious Christian in the western world: I needed to hear what it said, and I suspect you do too.
My name is Simon and I am a consumer. There, nothing overly surprising really in this day and age. But it was good for me to think through just how much of my life is dominated by consumption and possessions, and how I too easily exchange real life with virtual life. (Of course, I am saying this in a online blog, so I have some way to go perhaps). This book outlines just how greedy and consumeristic our lives and priorities too easily are before giving many real, practical ways in which we can better serve Jesus and not our money and possessions. Things like being prepared to wait and rest, like stopping seeing shopping as recreation, to consider carefully the ethics and implications of what you buy.
What I really liked about this book was that it struck a good balance for me. It is very easy to read with lots of practical examples and illustrations that make you consider what he is saying. It is not the kind of book that promoted a extreme activism with no foundation – the introduction says it like this: “I don’t live with complete strangers in a communal house that we’ve woven together out of things we found at the dump. I have a car. I occasionally eat at McDonald’s. I have been known to associate with advertising executives. I am a part of this consumer society.”
And maybe I am cynical, but I kept waiting for him to misuse the Bible or ignore it, but he is even-handed and faithful in his handling of Scripture. It is clear that his applications flow from wanting to serve Jesus and understand the implications of the gospel. The Bible is used well and often throughout this book; it is a decidedly Christian book, not just another self-help book.
As for me, I have a lot to think about. I will start by turning my smartphone off more often and by being fully engaged with whoever is around me. And I will try to give stuff away rather than buy too much unnecessary stuff I do not need.
You can find the basic information about the book and the Breathe network, which has been set up using the principles in the book, here: http://breathenetwork.org/consumer-detox/.