7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I hate guilt trips. They don’t change me, they just make me feel worse.

I just finished reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and it was anything BUT a guilt trip.

Author Jen Hatmaker sets aside seven months, and attacks seven different areas of excess in her life. Beginning with the vast topic of food, she limits herself to eating just seven foods for the month. This does several things, not the least of them being her discovery of the sheer number of foods she’s used to purchasing, and her identifying with those less fortunate, who do not have the luxury of variety.

The following month, she limits herself to wearing only seven clothing items from her closet. The month after that, she decides to give seven things away, every day. The point in this chapter that was most thought-provoking to me was how she does not just cart her stuff over to Goodwill and drop it off – she seeks out people who actually need her stuff. Joining together with friends, they hear of someone who is living in a bare apartment with no furniture, nothing on the walls, and hardly anything in the fridge. Jen and her friends redeem their excess by sharing it with someone they actually can make a connection with, and build a friendship with. I love that challenge. The rest of the chapters are full of stories on how she gives up seven types of media, limits her spending to seven places, and focuses on seven areas of her life in which she can reduce waste.

Are there other ways of sharing your plenty with others? Absolutely. Are there wiser spending habits that will not let us get into the predicament of excess in the first place? Definitely. But the real value in this book was not just another call to middle class Americans to purge their closets – I fear that message of shame gets sent our way a lot. Rather, Jen’s message is inspiration to join an adventure of what can happen to our worldview when we take stock of what we truly value and share our bounty with others. For a read that is definitely not a guilt trip (and is quite hilarious, too!), check out 7.

Tell me about your experiences with scaling back your lifestyle or sharing with others.

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.

4 Responses to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

  1. wildconaray says:

    Beautiful idea. It is how the churches used to work. I am not sure they still do, but hope.

  2. Andi says:

    This book has been a life changer for me – I’ve still got lots of growing to do but it gave me a different way to think about how to be a Christian. I’d also recommend “Interrupted” by Jen and “Barefoot Church” by her husband, Brandon. =)

  3. Leilani says:

    I will have to check this one out, it sounds like its both thought provoking while entertaining.

    We don’t do nearly enough scaling back but have made small inroads in our home. We both have inherited lots of “stuff” from our parents and are still weeding through everything and rehoming much of it. Small Kitchen appliances is one zone we do a lot of giving to others in, I have tried to simplify our kitchen and only keep things I use regularly.

  4. Lisa C says:

    I love Alton Brown’s advice for purging the kitchen: Remove every item from your kitchen drawers (could do the same with small appliances) & place in a box. As you need an item, retrieve it from the box. After using it, put it back in the drawer.

    In two months you’ll have drawers filled with things you use, and a box of stuff you don’t use.