By Blogger Chuck Redfern
Maybe they’re more than living museum pieces of a barely remembered schism-within-a-schism in Swiss history. Maybe they’re reluctant beacons lighting a path away from dystopia. Maybe, if we look closely, we’ll see freedom among the wary, rule-riddled Amish. Perhaps their backwardness isn’t so backward and our advances aren’t so advanced — and perhaps they’ll help us reclaim our spiritual footing as we face the sober fact: God’s creation chafes beneath the Type-A, multi-tasking melee. Something must be done.
Nancy Sleeth has eaten the fish and spat out the bones. She looks beyond the group’s obvious flaws, learns from their attributes and applies their lessons in “Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest For a Slower, Simpler, and More Sustainable Life.” The result: An entertaining, thought-provoking, refreshing, nuts-and-bolts manual for those of us who feel enslaved to the grid and our gas guzzlers. We know that massive dilemmas like climate change demand a matrix of societal solutions interlinking changed priorities, altered transportation systems, urban renewal and international negotiations; but still, we feel like hypocrites behind our steering wheels on our 40-minute commutes. We want more from ourselves.
Sleeth is the author of “Go Green, Save Green,” and managing director of Blessed Earth, a faith-based non-profit organization she co-founded with her husband, Matthew, a former emergency room physician and hospital chief of staff. Matthew says he felt like he was “straightening deck chairs on the Titanic” as he rescued individual patients on a sinking Earth. The outcome: The family drastically cut its fossil fuel and electricity use; he wrote “Serve God and Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action” (Zondervan, 2007); he shelved his career and, along with Nancy, founded the organization. Blessed Earth has produced videos and sponsored such initiatives as The Seminary Stewardship Alliance (institutions have pledged to teach environmental stewardship) and Creation Care Year (they partner with influential churches and offer forums, seminars, lectures, small group studies and panel discussions).