I’m quite conflicted about this latest book by Will Samson, Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess. It has all the makings of a great book, including a forward by Shane Claiborne and blurbs by Brian McLaren and Matthew Sleeth. The structure and premise of the book are quite promising: Samson attempts to use eucharistic theology to critique the west’s addiction to consumption. He begins the book with a brilliant metaphor about what it would feel like if people were wasteful with communion at church one Sunday, over-consumed their fair share, and because of that they ran out of bread and wine before you got your chance to partake. Essentially, Samson is saying that there should be enough resources for everyone to go around, just like there always is at the communion table (or in the communion plate). He goes back to this Eucharistic theology often, but I feel like he could have made clearer, more detailed tie-ins to how eucharist should shape our lives. Most assertions are simply that the eucharist should mean this or that, but it seems as if the why is left out at times.
The book is immensely readable and strikes at deep and important topics, but I feel that many of them do not get the treatment they deserve. As someone who feels fairly familiar with the arguments Samson is making in the book I caught some of the undercurrents of various topics that he skims over, but I wonder if someone unfamiliar with this conversation will be persuaded. I really think the book could literally be twice as long as it’s current 160 pages and still be just as readable and even more helpful.
Samson outlines some possible reasons why we have gotten ourselves into the mess we are in (well, he also lets people know we are in a mess, in case you didn’t already know), giving a bit of a historical and theological big picture of the consumption problem most of us find ourselves in. Then he moves on to give some practical tips to helping combat this problem, which is one of the sections that could easily be expanded. He then offers us a picture of what it might look like if our churches lived in such a way that we really did believe that we have enough. All three sections are done quite well, but they almost all left me wanting for more.
The one thing I do appreciate about Will is his integrity. He was living the American dream, and then decided what he was doing wasn’t sustainable. This book is sort of a capstone of moving away from certain values of suburban America and trying to live faithful lives dictated by values of the kingdom. For this reason, I think the book is likely worth your time, especially if you are looking for a brief, readable primer on a Christian perspective on consumption.
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