"We can stand anything God and nature can throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much, and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, sick." -- John Steinbeck
Chris Nye opens his new book Less of More with this prophetic quote from John Steinbeck...and I was immediately hooked. From this very first quote to the very last page, Nye challenges the prevailing storyline of American secular and Christian culture and its belief that growth is always good. He shows us that the bible values humility, simplicity, and connectedness over against our culture's idolization of popularity, riches, and the ever-elusive "more."
Nye shows very clearly how chasing the American Dream has not resulted in a society marked by true friendships, 'the good life', and joy but instead has left us lonely, isolated, exhausted, and clinically depressed. While masquerading on social media as truly content, our culture of more allowed and encouraged us to hide our true problems instead of seeking healing and wholeness. As Jimmy Buffett (not quoted in the book) similarly summed up our modern dilemma, "Everybody's on the phone, so connected and all alone."
Less of More spends five chapters contrasting societal and biblical values. Nye discusses growth versus pace, isolation versus connection, fame versus obscurity, power versus vulnerability, and wealth versus generosity. In each chapter, he shows how our popular culture and faith are at odds. "We cannot live the American Story and the biblical one simultaneously," he writes. "We cannot pursue the American Dream and God's Dream. The two kingdoms are in opposition to one another. Our allegiance must be sworn, and by siding with our Kind, we are surrendering our life" (160).
This book is less than 200 pages but packed with reasoned critique and--most importantly--marked by true Christian and biblical hope. I don't put too many books in the category of "must read," but this is definitely one of them! My thanks to Chris Nye for writing this needed book and for Baker for providing me a copy to review.