Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sleeth, Nancy. Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2012.

Anyone who has visited an Amish community or read one of the plethora of Amish novels that are quite popular these days has wondered what it might be like to live like the Amish away from the hustle and bustle, fast paced world we live in. For most of us that wish will always remain just that. However, in her recent book, Nancy Sleeth shares how her family has chosen to become, in her words Almost Amish and live a simpler, slower-paced life. Nancy serves as co-director along with her husband of the organization Blessed Earth an educational nonprofit that inspires and equips people of faith to become better stewards of the earth.

Books on simplicity, sustainable living, buying local, reducing your footprint, clearing the clutter, reducing dependence on technology, enjoying nature more, and getting out of debt are everywhere you look these days. In Almost Amish, Nancy Sleeth takes a smidgen of all of these resources and adds a large dollop of why these topics are important to God and should be important to believers. As the title indicates, Sleeth draws frequently on examples from the Amish community. Yet, she does not suggest we all need to become Amish. Instead, she provides lessons we all may learn from the Amish including a theological statement which grounds the Amish practice and then suggests how average Americans can incorporate these practices into their own lives. While encouraging readers to take steps towards simpler, sustainable living, Sleeth does not disparage those who are not yet ready to take drastic steps and instead encourages readers to take small steps, working their way toward the goal of being Almost Amish.

Many of the suggestions given in this book are not completely new. Suggestions include the typical get rid of excess clutter and possessions, not going into debt, paring your calendar of activities, and enjoying nature. Shopping local and supporting local businesses are encouraged both as part of being simple and building community among friends and neighbors. The importance of school is encouraged alongside the caveat of not letting school run your family’s life. A strong dose of service to God and others is encouraged which fits with the emphasis on being involved in your community and a fellowship of believers, as well as having strong family ties. A newer idea includes being conscious of technology use and setting health boundaries with technology. Sleeth indicates she has chosen not to use FaceBook or Twitter although she uses the internet quite frequently for their organization. Obviously, I have chosen to use FaceBook and Twitter as a means to review this book.

Almost Amish is recommended for libraries where Amish romances are popular. Study groups who are interested in simpler living may find this a useful resource to study and implement together. In fact, much of what Sleeth suggests would be easier to implement in a community of like-minded individuals. Additional resources and tip sheets are available on their website for further study.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blessed Earth. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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