Item description for Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess by Will Samson...
Overview In an age of conspicuous consumption, where children worry more about their clothes than their grades, the world is being drained of its natural resources, and every universal temptation is dangled in front of us, is it possible to be content?
In Enough, Will and Lisa Samson address the idea of finding contentment in this age of excess. With a casual, accessible writing style, the Samsons discuss consumerism, contentment as a Christian discipline, and the notion of stewarding our resources. In four sections, they outline the ideas that drive a consumerist mindset; the effects those ideas have on ourselves, our communities, and the earth; conclusions about the situation; and practical solutions for negotiating everyday life once we understand that our abundant God is, in fact, enough.
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Studio: David C. Cook
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.63" Width: 6.28" Height: 0.47" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2009
Publisher David C. Cook
ISBN 0781445426 ISBN13 9780781445429
Availability 0 units.
More About Will Samson
Will Samson has a seventeen-year career in politics, technology, and the church, working with Fortune 500 companies, universities, non-profits and political organizations. He is an active contributor to the efforts of Emergent Village. Lisa Samson has written seventeen novels, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Will and Lisa live in Lexington, Kentucky.
Reviews - What do customers think about Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess?
I needed more. Sep 23, 2009
Will Samson's "Enough," ironically, left me longing for more. There were a variety of different things happening in this book which, if each idea had been catalogued in a single book, could have been much more developed, poignant and persuasive; however, as Samson himself noted in a number of spots in the book, he is somewhat tangential which I feel muffled some of his more potent ideas. I know that he was trying to make this book palatable to his probable audience (those who are concerned with the effects of consumption who, stereotypically, reside on a specific arc of the political spectrum) but his subtle commentary with sarcastic references to political ideologies also kept me from fully engaging in the book and seemed to detract from the gravity of American and Christian consumption. And I think that the most difficult component of this is that he recognizes the significance of Christian consumption and, yet, neglected to really spell out the potentially cataclysmic effects. So, that being said, here is my response to the book. To begin, (again, as he notes) the structure of the book is "a bit more wonky" (27). This is me being nit-picky but had he structured his book the way he detailed it on the previous page (26) it would have presented a much more cogent argument with a more fluid transition from idea to idea. There could have been much more time spent on chapter 2. At the core, the issue of Christian consumption is derived from a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of certain biblical narratives, it has become exacerbated by the American civil religion which has wed American ideologies (in all of its facets: war, good and evil, consumption, morality, etc.) with Christianity. Rightly stated, he notes that it often leads American Christians to "see what God is doing in the world and what America is doing in the world as the same thing" (44). While this is disturbing and depressing that American Christians sometimes feel that way, the most important effect of this is that "the actions of our churches interpret for the world the message of the gospel" (37). This is enormous and, in my view, should have been the primary message of the book and should serve as the primary impetus for American Christians when they consume. One message that the American Church (and, of course, I don't mean all. I'm speaking in generalizations) is sending out to the world is that, "yes, we are aware that there is hunger, disease, strife, and death, all of which is in our financial purvey to alleviate; however, our homes and cars, our churches and stuff, come first. Charity is a secondary byproduct of our conversion/conviction. Not first." Recent studies has noted that the American Church (both Protestants and Catholics) make over $3 trillion dollars a year. With global organizations noting that it would take mere tens of billions of dollars to eradicate extreme hunger, poverty, and preventable diseases, what message is the world hearing is the "message of the gospel?" Samson makes references to some of these ideas but, as stated earlier, doesn't spend enough time and doesn't include enough statistics to make the issue powerful. I appreciate his discussion of prophetic voices and visions and the reactions of the American church in Chapters 3 and 5. People both in and outside of the church are voicing their concerns about our consumption and we don't appear to be listening. When eschatology is brought into the conversation, Samson, again, does an ok job of tying the two together but not "enough." As the "prophecies" of modern apocalyptic visionaries converge with political ideologies regarding consumption, the voraciousness of Christian appetites becomes seemingly insatiable. The ideas of "America's robustness is a result of faithfulness to God" and "the world will end soon" lead to words like Ann Coulter: "`Earth is yours. Take it. [...] It's yours. [...]Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view" (Ann Coulter, "If Democrats had brains, they'd be Republicans"). I really felt like the latter half of the book, starting with Chapter 6, had a good deal of great ideas that were spelled out well (but still left me wishing for more). The correlation to the mind-body-spirit crises was great. In a world that is hungry and sick, it is not only irresponsible of Christians to consume the way that we do, it is indicative of a mental dichotomy between a God who is sufficient, who calls us to consume well (not a lot but responsibly and good), who calls us to care for and nurture both the world and the people in it and a religion that appears to selectively ignore those passages of the Bible. Christian consumption on a physical and spiritual level is far more of an issue and a reflection of a cancerous ideology than some of the other seemingly insignificant issue of homosexuality, for example. There are 12 passages that make some sort of reference to homosexuality in the Bible each of which, when contextualized, could yield very different ideas than the interpretation people outside of the church assume we all think. Yet there are thousands of verses about caring the poor and I believe the life of Jesus reflects that as well. So, in this review, I'm not trying to berate Samson's work. I enjoyed it. I really did. I do recommend this book. Read it. It's relatable. It's palatable. He does a fine job getting the conversation started. Start with him and then move towards books like "The Ethics of Consumption" or "Hot, Flat and Crowded" and read them as a concerned Christian. I would give this book a three and a half. I just felt like I wanted more. Christian consumption (especially those of American Christians) affects our spiritual disposition, the global environment and the souls that God yearns to heal and draw close. If we as a church don't recognize the gravity of the issue and realign our priorities to be like that of Christ, we will continue to tell the world that our God is not enough. [...]
Have You Had Enough? Jun 25, 2009
When I picked up Will Samson's book I figured I had found an angry author who had an axe to grind against society and the church. Anyone who titled his book, "Enough!" sounded like he was more than a bit fed up with the current state of things. But as Samson, a sociology professor living in Kentucky, started discussing life in this age of consumption I didn't notice much of an edge to his tone.
In the introduction Samson gives a road map for his book. The first six chapters detail various descriptions, stats and stories regarding the cost of overconsumption. He humbly suggests that if a reader is familiar with current issues that they could skip ahead to the next section. I'd suggest otherwise. These chapters are an easy read and provide a good context for the suggestions that follow.
In the next chapters Samson does what other Christian authors have written lately. He hints at appropriate responses to our problem of American greed. There are ways to be more frugal, to live simpler, and to consume more responsibly. But the difference with this book and others in this genre is that Samson's answers are not just based on scripture proof-texts toward a new, Christian, environmental movement; instead he shares a story "of a God who is sufficient, active in the world, and forming a community of co-laborers to manage the created order." It is how Samson describes living out this vision in his own life that really caught my attention. There is a recognizable difference between gathering together with people who are like-minded, and gathering together with those who have like hearts. One is a work force, the other is a family.
Samson ends his story with descriptions of sufficiency and community. It is here that I realize there is no angry exclamation point in the title of his book. "Enough" is not a declaration of judgment; instead it is a calm realization that what we have in Christ, and what we could have with each other, truly is sufficient.
"Enough" will leave you challenged that you have plenty of things, but also leave you aching for more of the expression of community that many of us don't have enough of yet.
Great Well Paced & Challenging Read Jun 17, 2009
ill Samson hooked me early in this new book. He paints an image of the communion table where one person eats all of the elements. One person devours all of the bread and the wine and none is left for anyone else. The Eucharist, the beautiful good gift of God that was given to show us how to live is hoarded and misused.
"Surely Jesus didn't die so some people could grab it all , while others are left out."
"There was supposed to be enough. Wasn't there?"
With that the book enters in to a very well paced and sourced discussion of how we as modern Christians need to deal with our poor stewardship of all that God has entrusted us with. Enough goes beyond a simple argument of how we manage tangible resources and digs deep into how well we steward who we are and how we steward our relationships (personally and communally).
One of the elements I love about this book is the pacing. The chapters move well and are just the right blend of insight from Samson who clearly has something to add to the Christian conversation about how much is enough. Samson also really uses sources well and the quotes and statistics really seem to land at the right spots. I have burned out a couple of highlighters on this book and the quotes he uses from other writers and thinkers especially seem to land Samson's arguments and even take them further.
One section of the book that is really dear to me is where Samson moves the discussion towards our poor view of what it means to be a follower of Christianity and not Christ. He lands the idea of civil religion well and speaks to how we have been sold on the idea that the world will burn and how we steward it really doesn't matter. We often more than we know are part of system that acts this way, even if this not what we believe at our core. I think he really lands well the idea that if you were watching us behave from 10,000 feet you would see consumers first and Christians second or maybe even third.
The final section of the book really ends well with a very thoughtful discussion that has some great suggestions mixed in. The suggestions for moving beyond being consumers are really simple easy ideas that could radically change believers, if they were embraced. I felt like I could go out and implement most all of them this week. It wouldn't be easy, but it is possible. I could see how just a few simple steps could really change my family and effect those who live around me.
I really appreciated this book and will for sure be adding it to my "need to read" list for our community. As I read and read the Eucharist story from early on never left my head. It was the perfect backdrop for this book and is an amazing image of how we appear to live. This book with that image and much much more could be a great way for Christians to begin the discussion on modeling better stewardship to a culture that desperately needs to see it.
Every Contemporary Christian Should Read This Text Jun 10, 2009
Will Samson had a typical childhood background growing up in the typical American church. Samson is white, middle class and suburban. Or he was, before exiting his "typical" evangelical life for "greener" pastures, which has worked itself out as a more socially conscious and environmentally oriented Christ follower. Currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Kentucky, Samson is excellently qualified to write on the dicey subject of Christianity, contentment and the foibles and follies of the church at large. Having personally lived on both sides of the fence, he espouses a refreshingly stark look at Christianity's strengths and weaknesses by asking believers to confront their beliefs, ask the hard questions, and then proceed to move into society for the good of others and to better emulate Jesus.
With noteworthy commentary on Communion and the "common table" of Christianity, Samson explores various metaphors frequently taken for granted or misunderstood by Christians. He similarly focuses on challenging believers to grasp the fact that God has made the church sufficient to work in the world. As Samson continues, he discusses the importance of viewing the Trinity rightly, as a social relationship, whereupon we as God's social creatures "are meant to create communities that reflect that union..." And the clincher: "How does that affect the way we think about our resources?"
Readers will appreciate Samson's candidness, and his personal history will offer evangelicals insight into his choices and decisions for present-day actions. Samson enthusiastically tackles such topics as people who are consumed by "stuff" and the kinds of stuff that captivate and ruin lives. He also details the ins and outs of consumerism --- how views of God alter an individual's choices, specifics on Jesus and sustainability, and the Spirit of the Antichrist and how believers must re-imagine the readiness of Christ's return.
Of extra interest are Samson's chapters that delve into the practicalities of wide-range subjects pertinent to every person, including body (lifestyle diseases and the mind-body connection), earth (food, energy and much more), economy (God and capitalism and paying for the party) and community (loss of moral center and fragmented lives/communities). It is in this section that readers will find hands and feet to their newly discovered intentions. Every chapter describes the current "reading" in our culture and its associated downfalls. Samson aligns this information with scriptural principles and then makes suggestions for implementing said principles.
While not every Christian will agree with his premises, Samson has done the church a great service in pulling together the incongruities of the "haves and have-nots" and how the church is to reach out and meet such needs. Whether by gently nudging (or a guilt-inspired inner shove), every contemporary Christian should read this text and spend some time re-evaluating how well their faith walk fits with the message of Jesus (and the example He set for every one of us).
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
What it Means to Follow Christ May 26, 2009
When I first started this book, I half-expected it to be a diatribe against modern culture, focusing on the sins of our excess. While the book does mention those excesses, what I found instead was a call to live into true church community. Will encourages us to say "enough" to the consumeristic tendencies that have overtaken our personal lives, our churches, or friendships, and our theology and return to a Christ-centered practice instead.
The book is divided into two main sections. The first is an accessible exploration of the ways we have let consumeristic mindsets control who we are. And the second is a practical section that explores the areas of our lives in which we can say "enough" and provides broad suggestions for alternative ways of living. Both sections are easy to read, full of stories and examples, and do a good job of explaining ideas and trends in culture. While I personally found myself wishing for more substance in parts of the book, I found it as a whole to be a great introduction to the idea of exploring how our lives reflect what we believe.
The main call in the book is for us to live eucharistic lives. Living eucharistically "is to find ourselves in a community of others seeking the same, seeking to follow God in the way of Jesus.". But instead of living radically in that way, Will argues that we make do on low-cost, low-commitment substitutes. We exchange Christian community for the easy "personal decision for Christ." We exchange the command of stewardship for a "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die get raptured" theology. We have failed to realize that what we do, where we live, and what we buy reflects our theology. Will reminds us though that our lives are a gospel account "written in public for all to see" and calls us to question what sort of story we are telling. He encourages us to abandon the story of how our inner longings push us to consume more and more, and adopt a story of finding a place in the presence of God and the community of believers.
I'd recommend Enough to those who are wondering if there is a different way to follow Jesus that just doesn't rubberstamp the culture. This is a book for those who want to live redemptively but who have no idea where to begin. Will does a good job in providing a biblical guideline for how we can start to rethink our interactions with others and with the world and live in a way that makes the term "Christ-follower" mean something tangible.