Book Review – 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

This is the true story of one woman’s (Jen Hatmaker) year of saying “no.” She identified 7 areas of excess in her life and spent one month each eliminating those things (then she took a two week break in between the months, so it comes out to just under a year). Do not let me understate this: she was hardcore. For example, one month she gave up every piece of clothing in her closet except for seven. Woa.

Now, this book is written from a Christian point of view, but I would still recommend it to anyone interested in our American culture of waste, greed and excess. “7 resonates with people already carrying tension about what enough really means,” Ms. Hatmaker says.

Christians and non-Christians alike may also appreciate her recognition that many American churches indulge in too much excess (“I wondered if the American church was like well-mannered nice-talkers, sitting in a living room sipping coffee, talking about choir practice, while the world burns down outside our windows”). This is a woman who recognizes that she’s imperfect and wants to do something radical to shake herself awake. However, she does not put blame or guilt on anyone else. Everyone is an individual and just because you have money or nice things does not mean you should mutiny like Hatmaker did. That said, I am considering an intervention in my own life…if nothing else, it would make for excellent blog fodder 🙂

The book is written as a diary or journal, in chronological order. It’s an extremely fast read, and Hatmaker’s tone is light and conversational, even in moments of epiphany or despair. Some parts are heartbreaking, many parts are screamingly funny, and most parts are enlightening.

I just can’t say enough great things about this book. Run out and read it right now if you’re even remotely interested. To cap off this post, I’m going to list her 7 themes and share a highlight from that chapter. Enjoy!

  • Food
    When explaining why giving up things is helping her ministry to others, she says “I’m at that place where ‘well done’ trumps ‘well said’”.
  • Clothes
    After realizing she didn’t include a jacket in her seven items of clothing for the month: “I’m going to bed tonight grateful for warmth, an advantage so expected it barely registers…I won’t defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them.”
  • Possessions
    “I could blame Big Marketing for selling me imagined needs. I could point a finger at culture for peer pressuring me into having nicer things… But if I’m being truthful, this is a sickening cycle of consumerism that I perpetuate constantly.”
  • Media
    After suffering media withdrawal symptoms, she lectures herself: “What are you really missing? Asinine television programming? Websites that suck you in then waste your time? The Facebook knowledge that someone ‘is going to the store’ or her ‘son went poopy in the big boy potty today’? These don’t enrich my life in the slightest.”
  • Waste
    “I’m a Christian author, so my deal is to write Bible stuff, and the hippies can worry with creation.
    Wait a minute.
    Does ‘creation’ have anything to do with God whom I call ‘Creator’?”
  • Spending
    Talking about spending on ‘acceptable’ things like gas, new clothes, lunch or dinner out: “What if we’re buying a bag of tricks? What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it?”
  • Stress
    “I’m not the highest heel in the closet, but I think I’m missing the point. If prayer and rest equal guilt and frustration, then I’m doing something wrong. I can practically see God rubbing his temples.”

And there are tons of other nuggets of wisdom (and nuggets of hilariousity) in there. Just go read it.  See? I told you I was capable of a positive book review!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review – 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

  1. Wow. Sounds really intense. One of those things that I’d hope I can learn from reading it and not have to do in myself because it sounds crazy hard. I bet it’s a fascinating book though!

    • It was an intense experience for her, but the book is definitely written in such a way that you can read it and really learn her lessons without actually following in her footsteps.

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