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The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us Paperback – January 31, 2017
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From the Back Cover
Discover Faith-Forming Practices for Everyday Radicals
The Year of Small Things explores the yearlong experiment of two young families to implement twelve small practices of radical faith--things like simplicity, sustainability, and hospitality to the poor--not waiting until they were out of debt or the kids were out of diapers or God sent them elsewhere, but right now. The authors invite you to think about embarking on your own year of small but radical changes, right where you are.
"This is the best kind of spiritual formation book: serious and funny, smart and vulnerable--and, most useful of all, practical. Honestly, this is one of my favorite books this year."
--Jen Pollock Michel, speaker and author of Teach Us to Want
"Deeply moving--and necessary--for the faith community."
--Joel Salatin, renegade farmer and author of The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God's Creation
"This beautiful book offers a minirevolution that could shake up the world, or at least your neighborhood--and it doesn't require growing kale or living in a hut."
--Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas
"A field guide on how to implement Mother Teresa's admonition to 'do small things with great love.'"
--Tim Otto, copastor of Church of the Sojourners, San Francisco; author of Oriented to Faith; coauthor of Inhabiting the Church: Biblical Wisdom for a New Monasticism
"This beautifully written book is a gem!"
--Elaine Heath, dean of Duke Divinity School; author of God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church
"Written with grace, authenticity, and wit, Arthur and Wasinger's book made me excited to follow their path--the mark of a truly great work."
--Nathan Foster, director of community life, Renovaré; author of The Making of an Ordinary Saint
"Sarah and Erin get it. If you want to practice your faith right where you are, these women are the reliable guides you need."
--Margot Starbuck, author of Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor
For more information, visit www.yearofsmallthings.com.
About the Author
Sarah Arthur (MTS, Duke Divinity School) is a fun-loving speaker and the award-winning author or compiler of eleven books, including the best-selling Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Journey through "The Lord of the Rings" and At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time. She has written for such publications as Christianity Today, Her.meneutics, and Image Journal online, and has served as a fiction judge for the Christianity Today Book Awards. She lives in Lansing, Michigan. Visit her website at www.saraharthur.com.
Erin F. Wasinger is a freelance writer, speaker, and journalist, having worked as a newspaper editor and columnist before moving to Lansing, Michigan. A voracious reader as well as a storyteller and lay theologian, she writes at www.erinwasinger.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Then one day you wake up in your ticky-tacky two-car garage home supported by a dual income and wonder, “Why am I not doing missionary work in Africa like I planned on as a college student? How did I get here?” Or maybe you’ve never asked these questions, but sense, deep down, that God becoming man so that we could become like Him can’t just be a call to live out an American Dream where comfort and security are the primary goals. Sarah Arthur’s and Erin Wasinger’s story will challenge and inspire you either way. With self-deprecating humor, but without a trace of “you really should be living like this” judgment, the two women explain how they have tried to incorporate the marks of new monasticism while living in suburban middle America in ways that are authentic, powerful, and perhaps most importantly—doable (i.e. you will not be asked to move your kids into a yurt). In fact, this book is not about developing a strong personal identity around a list of social causes, but about living out the Christian faith in the context of covenantal friendship and community. Yes, it turns out buying only organic at Whole Paycheck is not quite the same thing as following the social teachings of Jesus. One aspect I appreciated most about this book was they way Sarah and Erin emphasized that they could not have incorporated the marks of monasticism into their full, busy lives in isolation.
And just in case you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, this all sounds very left-of-center and probably isn’t for me,” you should know that my own leanings are more in the direction of the “crunchy conservatism” (the key word in there is “conserve”) described by the journalist Rod Dreher. In fact, although the tone and focus is much different, The Year of Small Things reminded me of some of the ideas Dreher has expressed through an approach he calls “the Benedict Option”—in the sense that Dreher suggests the future of Christianity in the West will have very little to do with major “culture war” victories against an increasingly secular society and a lot more to do with small, intentional communities focused on knowing and living out their Christian faith in radically counter-cultural ways. What The Year of Small Things does is remind us that this disengagement from “the battle” should not be an utter retreat from the world, but an opportunity to be a source of light wherever we are planted and within the context of a particular community.
*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This well-crafted book is especially recommended for those who want to follow Jesus, but who struggle with the shallowness and lack of connection in many churches. It offers us hope that a deeper and more meaningful faith is possible, and imagination for how we might discover new ways of sharing life together.
If you live and work in the suburbs, figuring out ways to care for the marginalized and work for social justice where you are called to live can feel challenging and discouraging at times. This book offers new perspective to these issues and ways to incorporate the practices right where you are in the comfortable suburbs. The authors offer much grace and much confession about their own awkward fits and starts on their journey, giving readers the same grace and permission to work through a new, simple lifestyle marked by generosity to others and hospitality to the stranger and care for the earth, all while living in an accountable community.
Underneath many of our lives lies a hunger for this kind of radical call to shake up the status quo. The Year of Small Things could be transformative in so many ways, people, and places despite just offering “small things” to do. Great for individuals, couples, or small groups interested in a life resembling the early church.
“We’re pretty sure we’re not changing the world. But we’re letting God change us, which in turn points us toward the change already happening in our church and city. One small thing at a time.”