Book Review: Enough

enoughJournalist John Naish is an ardent environmentalist and anti-consumer campaigner. He’s the brain behind the Landfill Prize for example and Naish wants to start a movement of ‘enoughness’.

In essence Naish says, rightly, that we’ve lost all sense of what is enough in our lives. We do not know when to stop and this inability is hurting ourselves, our societies and our planet. Rediscovering a sense of ‘enough’ is necessary, essential even for our survival.

Through seven chapters (information, food, stuff, work, options, happiness, growth) Naish looks at how having more than enough is self-defeating and that discovering when we have enough is liberating. There’s much to commend it and it makes a lot of sense.

Not knowing when we’ve eaten enough will lead us to being obese, having too many options makes it harder to make a good choice, thinking we are not happy enough is a thankless task and so on.

Naish thinks that the clues to why we don’t know when we’ve had enough lies in the human brain, we have evolved this way to survive but now that our survival is rarely threatened by scarcity we need to fight our own brain wiring to learn new ways of thinking and living. It’s an interesting argument, but from a Christian perspective we would agree that humanity is wired to want more than we need (greed) and that reason is because we are fallen, sinful creatures.

Naish also embraces the spiritual, he advocates saying grace at meals (despite not really believing in God) and praying or meditating and even practising a ‘sabbath’. It’s a bit odd in the usual ways those who reject ‘religion’ but embrace ‘the spiritual’ are because it’s whatever you want it to be which usually ends up being not very much, while truth gets conveniently left at the yoga mat.

Enough is strongest in its analysis of the problem, with wry humour he skewers much of modern consumptive society in all its bloated glory but weakest when it comes to proposing solutions. It knocks self-help but in a framework of non-faith, if we don’t help ourselves who will? The gospel says we are liberated from our sinful passions and desires at the cross.

Having said that I wish more churches would teach and practice ‘enoughness’.

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