1. Reading about your challenge experience was inspiring and got me thinking. One of the things I wondered about was how this challenge affects different groups in different ways. For example, men and women — are societal norms different in such a way that a woman carrying out your challenge would find the social penalty much greater? (I’m reminded of Tina Fey’s joke from this year’s Golden Globes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw-wODbjmZI&t=3m10s)

    I suppose since the book that inspired you was written by a woman, I could read that to find out more. And I would guess that, for many of us, our level of wealth even exceeds the bare minimum standards established by societal norms (which I think is your main point). Still, I wonder if this exercise challenges us not only to live more simply, but to reflect on the judgments we form about others based on their clothes, etc.

  2. Yahnatan,

    Great thoughts, thanks! You’re absolutely right – we immediately found that the challenge proved more difficult for women than men because of jewelry, makeup, accessories, expectations, etc. We relaxed the “rules” for women if they found that helpful so that could participate in the challenge more equally with the men.

    I also like your point about exploring “the judgments we form about others based on their clothes, etc.” I didn’t even get into that aspect of all of this, and I’ll have to reflect on that more!

    • I wonder if it would be too “utopian” to reimagine Christian fellowship as a zone in which, rather than relaxing the “rules” of simplicity to accommodate societal demands on women, we, inspired by passages like 1 Peter 3:3-4, redoubled our efforts to reconfigure our own communal expectations of women.

      An immediate challenge of such a project would be to avoid historic patterns of patriarchy centered around control of women’s bodies. One way to do this would be to put women in control of the reconfiguration process. However, since men are just as involved in perpetuating these expectations as women, men would need to be involved too. I suppose this is what intrigues me about this idea — the way it requires cooperation of men and women.

      Of course, there are historic precedents for this kind of move: I’m thinking in particular of the hippie movement…

    • BTW, I think your choice to “relax the ‘rules'” of your simplicity exercise was wise, as it allowed the group to focus on one thing rather than have to tackle multiple issues at once.

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