Plain Living, Plainly

I am becoming a browser of simple/plain blogs and websites, looking to see what others are doing, what others are thinking. And there are a plethora of books out there on the subjects. Some are practical and inspiring, but so many of them are written by people who simplify their lives by buying either the opera or symphony season tickets, but not both this year. The economy, you know.

One book (title and author mercifully forgotten) was about the simple life, so-called, on the West Coast, and it involved noshing one’s way through the farmer’s market rather than loading up the buggy at the Safeway, and the joys of spending the day on the couch in pajamas, reading the huge weekend edition of the newspaper, instead of doing something costly and time-consuming like planting a real garden. (Because there’s the farmer’s market.) One of the author’s tips to simplificationism was to not fold your clothes, just drop them into random baskets in your closet. Oh.

And buy your own coffee, organic fair-trade, of course, and make that latte at home!

I have never had a latte, let alone made one.

 I think it might be a good idea to cut out the coffee altogether, if we can.

The stark reality of life on this planet is that those who are reading this blog are most likely to be living in a house of sorts, buying food most of the time, and are not suffering from any nutritional diseases. Their life expectancies are fairly high, comparitively. We have to struggle to find places and means to grow our own food, cut our own firewood, sew our own clothes. We are stuck in the capitalist economy, and we must fight to shake loose.

If the Amish were open to converts they would probably be swamped with applicants. I’d join tomorrow if it was possible, even if it meant living in someone else’s house and working twelve-hour days. I’d be willing to wait to buy our own farm, or to settle on someone else’s farm. It’s not just the simple life – it’s not that simple, as so many readers here know, to live off the land and make a wage for the things we can’t grow – it’s the Christian life that is the reason for doing things the Plain way. Christ comes first. Christ is the reason for what we do, and what we aspire to do. Obedience to Christ is the reason we keep doing it even when it looks like all may fail, because in faithfulness we cannot fail Christ.


12 thoughts on “Plain Living, Plainly

  1. “If the Amish were open to converts…. I’d join tomorrow if it was possible”

    Ah, but that is possible!! The Beachy Amish are easy to convert to.I am actually considering joining them.They are a mix of both modern technology and conservative values.For more see

    There are rare cases of people joining the Old Order Amish but this is harder because of language difficulties, the lack of modern goods and the Amish sceptically of outsiders who view them as novelties.

    • Thanks for the link, Lucy! As I said, I’m not sure if I am completely serious about it. There are some pretty big factors that the Amish, even the more open groups, would have trouble accepting. Yes, learning Deutsch was one of the issues, not so much for me, but for my husband.

  2. Hello , Amish and Mennonites and Amish Mennonites DO take converts . I do not know how much you know about them but you may be interested in an email group I belong to that is run by Conservative Mennonites and Amish Mennonites . We respect their faith but do not hold ALL of their beliefs . We left the Anglican church Many Many years ago because of liberalism . Do you know how many people are looking for a plain but not neccissarily Amish or Mennonite church there are many on the email list . Some because they like us do not share all of the doctrines others it is because they are not of the Pennsylvania Duch culture . We are in Ontario
    . We wondered if when the Anglican Church split reciently if we would be able to go back but the ”Conservative ” church was holding an “alternative Halloween Party where the children dressed up etc . We had hoped these sort of compromises were over and the church would be more Biblical . How do you feel about this issue ? We would like to hear from you . we are sort of a mix of Anabaptist and Orthodox Quaker bieliefs.

    • I’m not sure if I’m terribly serious about joining the Anabaptists, although their theology is orthodox enough for me! I continue to struggle in the Anglican Church with its reforms and worldliness because at its core it is faithful, in direct line to the apostolic church, and willing to listen – some of the time! I have looked at but never made the jump to the Conservative Anglicans because they are still just as worldly. There are, as you probably know, Plain Catholics, and they’ve been around quite a while. Is there a place for Plain Anglicans? Would a mainline bishop take us on, support us and indeed protect us if necessary? Would we be allowed to hold to a traditional liturgy and way of life? It needs to be explored. We spent our parish years in a conservative diocese that was not tolerant of our choices, especially the life-changing metanoia that took us out of worldly relationships; we are continued to be seen as guilty of dereliction and disobedience. But it is better to obey God than men.

      Sabrina, you realize that I am ordained and wish to remain so. Once called, there is no going back. Why the Lord began to call women in the last century, I don’t know. One priest says it’s because men were not answering the call in faith. In practice, we are much like you, Anabaptist and Conservative Quaker, but unwilling to give up the physical sacraments, or we would have gone to a Conservative Quaker community.

      Now that we are in Ontario (and perhaps staying here long-term, according as it may be to God’s will) perhaps some of us can arrange for a meeting. If anyone is willing to travel, I think I can arrange a suitable place. We are not very mobile right now, with the truck off the road for a while. If interested, let me know. I will not publish acknowledgements, but get back to you privately, so no one else needs to know if you are participating. Let’s pray over this, and see what works out. before the middle of Advent would probably be best.

      • Magdalena –
        I think you should look into contacting Bishop Todd Hunter. He was recently elected to the bishopric in Africa – Rwanda – he is American…I believe that his election was in some part making a bishop available to many of the disparate parts of the Anglican church.
        Diocees that have left the communion over the ordination of women and the gay issue plus others are under his umbrella.
        Can’t hurt to see if he would be willing to provied covering and a place to grow for you and your friends.
        Yhere are also – I have heard a growing number of COnservative QUakers who are reinstituting Baptism and Communion in their fellowhips.

      • Thank you for the information, and I’ll keep it in mind. However, at this time I feel led to reconcile with my own home bishop, if he is willing. I am ordained, and that is the sticky wicket for the most conservative groups.

        I’ve heard anecdotally about about some CQ groups that are instituting the physical sacraments; we’ll see where that goes.

  3. I too have seen a lot of the worldly simple living sites springing up lately. Perhaps they should be called economical or frugal living rather than simple living. While economics is a good reason, like you said, it should be our primary reason. Instead, the pilgrim concept of life, being in the world but not of it to keep our focus on God. Building up treasure in heaven rather than here on earth as in Matthew 6:19-21. I’m finding that living a simple, plain life, allows you to stop and enjoy God’s basic pleasures without being distracted by the world.

    • Yes, the Lord means to change this world in the fullness of time, and we must not be too attached to the way it is. I think now that we are into the year-end holidays, we see this more acutely, since the world’s way of celebrating is so different from ours. We are not a Halloween household, but we did put out on the porch a pumpkin carved with the image of Jesus Christ, as a witness. (I’ll see if I can get the image posted soon.) We had four children come to the door, so it either scared people off (little pun there) or this is not a trick-or-treat neighborhood. All Saints was our big day, with a festive service, the Litany of the Saints, “For All the Saints”, and an evening feast.

      Does anyone know of a company that imprints candy with Christian themes? Not so much to have that “alternative Halloween” that Sabrina thought was much too worldly (and I agree), but as a witness to unchurched children and their families on sweet-giving occasions.

  4. There’s a little Biblical activity booklet for kids from Christian Light Publications called Do Right that I like to hand out. You could tape a piece of candy to the front if you want. I don’t know about candy, but there are places to get Christian imprinted pencils.

    I’ve been puzzled at something the past few years. What’s the point in changing the party’s name from Halloween Carnival to Fall or Harvest Festival if you can’t tell there is a difference other than one is held at a church and the other in a community hall? We’re only fooling ourselves.

    • Or maybe slip it into a little paper treat bag, which could have a Bible verse on it…we probably could write a blog about seasonal responses to culture for Christians! I really wish, along with you, that Christians would act like Christians. If we are going to keep the holiday at all (All Saints) then we should keep All Hallows Eve, which is a solemn evening service where we remember the blessed who have joined their Saviour in heaven – “Those who have died in the hope of the resurrection.” Anglicans had vespers for those occasions, everyone would gather at the church after dark, a beautiful liturgy was sung, and then there might be some simple food after at home, or family visits were made. (I understand that this tradition lasted even in some New World communities until the First World War.) Everyone went to church on All Saints, even if it fell on a weekday. It was a major feast or festival for the church. That’s what Christians need to recapture, not just transmute it into “good, clean fun”. That started when I was a kid, about forty years ago, and I remember my mother disapproved greatly of Halloween parties at the church.

      • I am so sorry I thought you actually meant you would like to become Amish . I did not realize you were an ordained woman minister . As I said my family left the Anglican church long ago I was only a baby and my mother left because she did not believe in infant baptism . I thought it may be interesting to see what you meant by plain Anglican . I had not read through your archives . The part of Quakersim I like is that they work for reform like putting an end to slavery , ending child labour ,etc . The rest of our beliefs would be Anabaptist. I just found and read the 39 articles of faith and they are VERY VERY different from Anabaptist doctrines. We hold to no women in ministry , believers baptism ,no divorce or remarriage, no swearing of oaths separation from church and state ,no taking of arms etc. I wish you well on your journey but I do not think this is the right place for us thank you

  5. Sabrina, the Quakers were among the first to let women preach! (After the apostolic church, that is.) Quakers were Anglicans, until the bishops got dfficult, which is a common occurrance among bishops…

    I am of mixed mind about baptism. Infant baptism is fine if the child is raised in the church, but doesn’t make sense if it is just a ceremony to please family.

    Divorce and remarriage are realities, always were, even in the time of Jesus and Paul.

    Please spend some time with not just the Bible but some of the excellent commentaries and archeological/sociological research done on it. An educated Christian is armed against the world.

    The thirty-nine articles are considered historical documents and are not binding on Anglicans. They reflect the political world of Elizabeth I, not the currrent polity of the church.

    I warn thee lovingly against romantic views of the past, Sabrina. While holding to tradition (an Anglican precept) thee must live in the present. Please continue to read the blog, even if thee disagrees with the choices that I and others have or must make.

    I also recommend that thee read some of Richard Hooker, an early Anglican, and some of Bishop N.T. Wright, a current Anglican.

    Has thee joined an Anabaptist or Quaker group, or does thee hold thyself outside the faithful church because of thy own dissatisfactions? We must test our leadings by the advice of other Christians, not just against our own hearts, for the heart is deceptive.

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