seven – not a review (but a giveaway – yay!)

One of the degree modules I chose was entitled ‘Not Opera’ so, as a fan of things which aren’t what you think they’re going to be, here’s not-a-review of Jen Hatmaker’s Seven, which I mentioned recently.

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Why? Firstly, because you can read the reviews everywhere. They’re. All. Over. The. Web. Secondly, because perhaps more interesting than me telling you what the book is about would be for you to actually fork out nine quid, buy the book, read it, and instead let me tell you how it’s affecting me.

The deal is this: Jen Hatmaker is a NORMAL gal from Austin, Texas. Not normal in the sense of being in any way sane (for in the arena of sanity she is weird and eccentric and quirky) but normal in the sense of not Shane Claiborne. Now don’t get me wrong – I was massively influenced and challenged by The Irresistible Revolution, and strongly recommend it if you haven’t already flicked through. BUT – he’s a radical. The world I inhabit is millions of miles from his – I found it a struggle to apply his life to mine. So Jen is a mum, writer and speaker, in her 30s, living in middle-class America. I can relate to two-thirds of that, which is good enough for me.

For each of seven months, Jen cut back her life in one of seven different areas: food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress. She ate only seven foods, wore only seven items of clothing, pledged to give away seven possessions each day, eliminated seven media types, adopted seven green habits, spent money in only seven places and finally, in the last month, adopted seven sacred pauses to her day. Whilst many have criticised the gimmicky nature of this experiment, what stood out for me was the thinking behind it: the theology, the research, and Jen’s thoughts on it all. It made me think. (I also quite liked the experiment bit, if I’m honest. I like that kind of thing. But my advice is: if you don’t, then don’t dwell on it. Get to the meat of the book.)

Here’s a selection of my thoughts after reading Seven. I’ve again contemplated my over-consumption, challenged by the knowledge that there’s enough food/money/clean water/education potential for everyone in the world – but that I am guilty of consuming more than my fair share. This has led to new commitments about: buying less, reusing more, buying Fairtrade wherever possible, using less packaging, wasting less food, practising self-discipline when it comes to spending. Essentially – trying to share out the earth’s resources.

I’m thinking about my media usage, whether my use of the Internet is wise or not (hello, blog), and what I’m filling my head with. My phone alarm is set to ring at various points during the day reminding me – if I choose to embrace it – that I have an opportunity to commit that part of my day to God.

I’ve realised that my musings about the Sabbath really need to be clarified, so am having a think-through that one, particularly as t’other half works Sundays.

I’m wondering whether we’re investing our money into the right people/organisations that will seek to let God’s will be done across the earth, in terms of justice and provision for all.

Pretending this is a review for a minute, let me offer two warnings: the book is very American, and very girly. These are not criticisms – I can’t criticise an American girl for being what she is – but more aspects which might irritate some. I couldn’t see hubby reading it, for example, as he’d soon get fed up with the style, much as he appreciated (I think) the huge chunks I read to him just before bed each night. And the American-ness just requires a little mental altering, to translate to the situation here in the UK. This is most noticeable in the chapter on ‘Waste’, where the lack of compulsory recycling in Austin seems very distant from our own experience.

Do you have to be a Christian to get something from this book? No, I don’t think so, as long as you’re sympathetic to where Hatmaker’s coming from and don’t mind the Bible quotes. I think anyone interested in social justice would find the book stimulating.

OK, this was a review then. Dammit.

But here’s the thing: this blog is nearing 10,000 views – something of a milestone, I feel. And what better way to celebrate a milestone than with a giveaway, a thank you to anyone who has ever read this blog? Write a comment below and when the blog has hit 10,000 (sometime mid-end of next week I estimate), I’ll pick a name from a hat, send the lucky winner a copy of Seven and he/she can write his/her own review and ignore mine. Agreed?


18 Replies to “seven – not a review (but a giveaway – yay!)”

  1. Happy nearly 10,000! Would love to read through that, I’ve also been contemplating my over-consumption for a long time and it’s led me to fast various things including meat and Facebook!

  2. I can’t really comment cos it would wrong to win a giveaway after reading to book…so this is just to say I am interested to hear your thoughts on less packaging and how to achieve that when it is (in places) not in our hands directly. It is something that has in the past put me off one particular supermarket that I might otherwise favour!

    1. Don’t worry, I’ll take extra precautions to make sure you don’t win. 😉 Re packaging…no brainwaves yet I’m afraid… I take my own reusable fruit+veg bags to the supermarket, much to the amusement/puzzlement of pretty much every checkout person. Buying one larger container rather than several smaller ones where possible is good (although a certain supermarket has, for a while now, been charging less to buy 2 x 500g tubs of butter than 1 x 1kg tub – and I’m NOT happy – I’ve been choosing the cheaper option and feeling troubled!). I suppose also the whole independent/local shopping ideology comes into play – not much is packaged at the grocer’s, the butcher packages things as minimally as possible, and buying gifts etc at local shops probably mean there’s been less packaging as they’ve had a smaller delivery of things from a local source, rather than boxes and boxes of goods being carted all over the country. I don’t often think of the larger packaging which I don’t see, but it’s just as much – possibly more – of a consideration.

      On a not-exactly-the-same-but-related note, I’m fastidious when it comes to pulling ‘new’ reply envelopes out of junk mail packages (or even non-junk mail, e.g. credit card statements that read ‘£0.00’ and yet still enclose a reply envelope), and reusing them. Likewise jiffy bags, and any other packaging which comes in the mail. Carrier bags is an obvious one. Also tissue paper and bubble wrap which things are wrapped in…I always always save them to re-wrap other things!

      This is what I do already, but I’m looking to cut down my throwing-away even more. I think it’s just a case of being more alert when I go to chuck something, so that I don’t throw out what could be reused. For example, junk mail will often include one-sided paper that I throw in the recycling bin, but that could just as easily be put aside for drawing/painting/general craftiness for the kids. Glossy takeaway flyers/free magazines could be cut up to make paper chains, shapes for sticking, or numerous other craft projects. It’s small but it’s a start!

      I suppose, in summary (this reply has pretty much been longer than the original post to warrant a summarising paragraph…argh) half of it is about CHOOSING the less-packaged option, and the other half is about USING UP packaging where there’s no choice. Perhaps plastic fruit bags (where there might be no option to buy unpackaged fruit) could be reused as sandwich bags…in fact, I think my mum used to do that! Hmmm, you’ve got me thinking…! Anyone else got any anti-packaging tips?!

  3. Well done on reaching so many Lucy! I pray your blog continues to touch peyote and really speaks into some hearts. Oh, and I’d love a free copy of Seven!

  4. Sounds like an interesting read! Worried I’ll end up with huge guilt when I fail to transform areas of my life! Hadn’t thought about reusing reply envelopes- great idea! Your blog is a great read btw, always leaves me pondering!

    1. Ah she’s good at not making us feel guilty! Challenging, but not guilt-inducing. 🙂 I think it helps that she’s writing from a perspective of Western affluence, so we can easily relate to what she’s saying. Thanks for blog encouragement! X

  5. Sounds fascinating and challenging! I want to change too!! Like your last response(with summary) re packaging. Making me think…yes I use small plastic bags for lunches. And reuse envelopes and Jiffy bags by sticking labels on for address. Love your blog!! 🙂

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