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"The Good Things in Life" that hold us captive
on February 23, 2009
This is the story of Henry Morgan, a man who with his wife Esther and three children was content with his life. And why wouldn't he be? He had everything in life that he needed, the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, provided very directly by the fruit of their labors. But progress comes to his rural area, and Henry bows into the pressures to enjoy the "good things in life," all the material things that are wants and not desires. He ends up going into debt to obtain these things and finds himself enslaved to these "good things." This enslavement is a source of great stress and trial to Henry, while his wife and children happily enjoy these good things, not recognizing the chains binding them, and even pushing Henry to acquire more stuff.
This first part of the book is very good. I'd give it 4.5 stars. It's a very good illustration about how the pursuit of material possesions, especially by means of acquiring debt, enslaves, and progressively so. For the purposes of condensing the story (I assume), some of Henry's concessions to progress happen a bit too quickly, but that's a minor quibble. I could see this portion of the book being very inspiring for someone experiencing our society's typical level of bondage to stuff. Having by choice avoided debt (not even a mortgage), and having lived well below our means for years, this served as less of a rallying cry for my husband and I, but more as a quiet confirmation of something we already knew. Even so, I was inspired to look at the things around me and to remember anew that most of them are wants, luxuries, nice things, but not essentials.
The second part of the book is the spiritual application, the moral of the story. There were some good points in this section, about the Christian's citizenship being in heaven, about being content with food, clothing, and shelter, etc. But, a lot of this section was a bit over the top and melodramatic, especially the part saying society was responsible for Henry's great distress, ignoring that he went along willingly. And some of the points that the author attempts to make from Scripture (like emphasizing that Cain went to live in a CITY and other negative references to CITIES) are a bit of a stretch. This portion of the book would only rate a 2.5 stars.
So, I'd give a combined overall rating of 3.5 , but Amazon forces me to round it. I go down to 3, because to me a 4 indicates only minor complaints, and mine are a bit beyond that. I'd recommend getting this book if you can pick it up for a couple dollars or borrow it from someone; otherwise, the 86 pages of good story and 30 pages of so-so spiritual application aren't enough to make this worth aquiring.