A Review of Living with Less

by Steven Cottam As might be expected with a book on the joys of minimalism, Joshua Becker’s work Living with Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness is a quick and light read. The author’s thesis is straightforward: that our modern preoccupation with having stuff draws time, energy, and attention away from more meaningful pursuits. Joshua presents his case on the matter succinctly and does not engage in any needlessly prolonged debate or diatribes on the issue. Becker’s goal is clearly not argumentation but rather invitation; he’s not looking to convince his readers through force of rhetoric as much as he is looking to invite his reader to meditate on certain topics and thereby perhaps reconsider their stance toward stuff. Becker’s use of simple language and a to-the-point style is not only fitting given his subject matter, but is undoubtedly to the benefit of his younger audience. In speaking of the style of Living with Less, it’s important right away to identify Becker’s intended audience; this book is for teenagers through and through, and it is to them that Becker presents his various meditations. Living with Less lays out its argument in four major parts: Jesus’ story, my (Joshua’s) story, your (the reader’s) story, and a final part looking for intersection between your and Jesus’ story. I must admit that...

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Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Book Review

by Steven Cottam     I often struggle with being an organized and efficient person, and so I am constantly reading books on how to get myself organized. My accumulated knowledge on this subject, from a vast library of organizational books, has taught me that the key to success in any project is knowing the why and how behind it: what is the goal for which you are working so hard, and what are the steps you are going to take to actually accomplish your endeavor. It is the particular gift of Ronald J. Sider to be able to balance, and balance well, these two different aspects of our thinking that makes his new book on the economy, Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget a worthy read. In his work, Sider seeks to find a moral way, as judged by the standard of Christian ethics concerned with justice and care for the poor, to fix our budget crisis. In so doing, Sider is able to write in a way that brings to light both the destination he seeks to reach while being very clear on the steps of the journey. He has a vision for what our national economy should look like, and he is methodical in enunciating the way he wants to take...

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We Need to Rethink Financial System From Scratch, as at Bretton Woods

On September 26, 2008, French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said, “we must rethink the financial system from scratch, as at Bretton Woods.”  I must admit lab at the time I did not understand his reference to “Bretton Woods” and if you find yourself also in that same space it maybe good to familiarize yourself with what has been called the Bretton Woods system. The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states in the mid 20th century. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. Just over a week ago a surprising (to me) voice entered the the dialogue of rethinking our international financial systems. What was surprising was not that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (Vatican City) had something to say but how I found it to be a very useful/helpful reflection. I encourage you to consider listening to a short explanation of the paper or download the paper on the reform of the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority, released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Economic Reform...

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Think ending extreme poverty is impossible?

 The end is closer than you think (Research & Facts) from live58 Consider the following facts: Over the past eight years, the number of kids dying from measles has declined by 78 percent. Twenty-two countries have cut their malaria rate in half in only six years. In the 1990’s the number of children dying from preventable causes dropped from 40,000 to 33,000 per day. In 2008, that number decreased to 24,000. Today, it is 21,000. In one generation, we’ve cut the number of children dying from preventable diseases almost in half! The number of children dying before their fifth birthday has also decreased even while the number of overall births is increasing. In less than ten years, a third of children who couldn’t afford to go to school now can. And literacy rates are rising worldwide. The spread of HIV has been curbed. New HIV infections have been cut 16 percent globally. Two hundred years ago, the average life expectancy was about 30 years. Today, many of us have a life expectancy of 75 to 80 years. In the same 200 years, we’ve gone from over 90 percent of the world’s population living in extreme poverty to about 1.4 billion people there as of 2005 (the latest census numbers). That’s still way too many people. But here’s the good news: In...

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