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Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,171 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A revised and updated edition of the manifesto that shows how simplicity is not merely having less stress and more leisure but an essential spiritual discipline for the health of our soul.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by HarperOne (first published October 22nd 1981)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,322)
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Julie Luekenga
This book, published in 1981, tackles the now very trendy topic of living simply. Before it was popular to talk about paring down (remember this was the decade of prosperity and soaring stocks) and being "green" was so "in", the author teaches these concepts (and others)all in the name of simplicity. Couched in spirituality, specifically Christianity, Foster offers the theories, benefits and suggestions to simplify our lives.

At the heart of his premise is to focus on only one pursuit: seeking G
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Matt De Kam
Excellent book about living a simple life. Everyone living in western culture should consider these ideas.
Angela
After being so inspired and challenged by Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, I searched for anything else written by Richard J. Foster & stumbled upon this book. He had so much more to say on the spiritual discipline of simplicity that what was originally one chapter in the Celebration of Disciplines book became a book itself. I read it because I believed Richard Foster had experienced a level of spiritual depth that I could only dream of before now...I discovered I was ...more
AJ
May 07, 2007 AJ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: spiritually mindful
Shelves: soul
"A pivotal paradox for us to understand is that simplicity is both a grace and a discipline...There is no way that we can build up our willpower, put ourselves into this contortion or that, and attain it...It is a discipline because we are called to do something."

"The connection between obedience and blessing is genuinely significant, and the significance is not primarily in the notion of being rewarded for doing what is right. That has its place, but it is a minor place, almost a childish plac
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David
Simplicity, says Foster, is far more than getting rid of household clutter. It starts with inner simplicity, a state of awareness of and communion with God. It means learning to have a single focus--hearing his voice and obeying. It entails simplicity and truthfulness of speech. It has as its goal the ability to serve others, to give more of one's money, time, and talents. Foster moves on from individual simplicity to simplicity in the church and then from there to its impact on the world. He re ...more
Dane
classic foster. celebration of discipline changed my life and I suspect I will look back and say the same of this one.
Scott Jeffries
Richard Foster's book Freedom of Simplicity was written more than 30 years ago. For a book that discusses money, materialism, and possessions, there is not much that needs to be updated.

What strikes me is that so much of what he touches on in this book - moderation, simplicity, and generosity - has not become mainstream 30 years later. Why haven't Christians embraced a more simple existence? Why is materialism as rampant in the church as it is outside the church? Foster's words remain timely.

Fos
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Shannon
I'm surprised I haven't run across references to this book or author -- overall, it's an excellent book. Very little of it seems dated, even after 30 years. Foster approaches simple living from a Christian perspective -- when we have a singleminded focus on God, he says, our lives will take on an external simplicity. He then offers several very practical (though not easy!) suggestions for reducing personal consumption in order to increase giving to those in need of both physical and spiritual fo ...more
Jeremiah
I've benefited from some of what Foster has written previously but this book was a great idea with poor execution. I think Foster is a wonderful person with a great ministry but I think his writing is just flat-out boring. In this book he comes off as someone who is straining to be a scholar, a mystic, and an ordinary guy. Have you ever sat under a really boring pastor who just throws out verse after verse of obscure bible passages and tells you what they mean in the Greek or Hebrew? Oh, then he ...more
Mike E.
In this book from 1981 Foster writes about something that is trendy today, simplification. We find few specifics or prescriptions here, but a helpful book to think through how we should live. This book is ideal for those of us who are in the fight to use our resources to glorify Christ and advance His kingdom. Foster argues for the "Divine Center," meaning, in my vernacular, the Christ-centered life.

One of the most helpful chapters was "Simplicity Among the Saints"--a diachronic survey of simpli
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Jenni
I think this book does an excellent job of explaining why simplicity is an essential spiritual discipline.

Foster first gives what he considers to be the foundation for simplicity. In this section, he covers the complexity and paradoxical nature of simplicity, traces its biblical roots in the Old and New Testaments, and then finally gives examples of how simplicity has been manifested and taught by Christians throughout history.

After establishing the foundation for simplicity, Foster goes on to d
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polly
Nov 22, 2014 polly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: faith
My friend E and I read this as a 'book study' earlier in the year. It is a fabulous paradigm-shifting book. I already considered myself someone who valued simplicity as a way of living our my faith, but Foster elegantly explores the call to Christian simplicity in depth. He does not limit this merely to lifestyle choices (materialism) but also expands it to various other parts of our lives.

One important note that I do not think I will ever forget is that I took away that those of us who live in
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Jonathan
If you want a simpler life, or think that you should, this is the book to read.

Foster writes early on that he was very hesitant to write this book. His worry is that material simplicity, divorced from the other spiritual disciplines and Christ, becomes just a trapping legalism. Readers should have no reason to share his worry. Foster does an incredible job of building up what holistic simplicity really means (simplicity of faith, mind, time, possessions, etc.) and building everything on Christ.
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Jeremy
Most books I've read that call readers to a specific way of living tend to err on the side of dogmatism, passionately espousing a very narrow way of living that they have been called to and that they, by extension, assume everyone else has been called to as well. Foster does a masterful, seemingly Spirit-led job of navigating the reader through the very complex issues involved in determining what a life of simplicity looks like for each individual, given their cultural context.

This is not a "do
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Kelly Belvis
Not my favorite of Richard Foster's books. Still there were some helpful suggestions to ponder. My complaint with these types of books is that they generally do not provide a balanced view. Some are called to simplicity but if everyone was called to poverty then most of the charities in this country would dissolve not to mention the entire economy.
Doug Dale
I read this book about three years ago and remembered getting a lot out of it. To be honest, I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much the second time through, but it was still a worthwhile read.

I was unsure whether I should give it three or four stars. There are a few directions that the author goes that I'm not sure I totally agree with and I'm always nervous about that fine line between the idea of the gospel transforming society and the transformation of society becoming the gospel.

I ended up going
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Toby
Not quite as deep or as solid as Celebration of Discipline, but with some great gems of wisdom none the less. The book is copyrighted 1981 and there are some disappointingly out of date cultural and environmental references that distract a bit in a few places. However, there is some great practical advice on simplicity. The main thrust of the book is that in general "seek first the kingdom and His righteousness" leads to a simplicity of heart and of outward expression. There are a couple of shor ...more
Liz
Freedom of Simplicity grew out of a chapter on simplicity in Celebration of Discipline. This book is a great gut-check for Christians concerned about how their possessions and lifestyle affect their faith (and definitely for those who are not concerned!)
Charity
Absolutely worth the read. Some sections were tough, and I'm not sure I agree with all the practical applications (some seem legalistic to me).

I'll definitely be reading again, especially if there's an updated version out there. (Mine is from the 70s).
Daniel
Apr 28, 2008 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone except extreme capitialists, no, especially extreme capitialists
I have read and re-read this book since Beecroft turned me on to it. It is a convicting life-changer. The most powerful thing about it was one of the very first chapters. Foster did something that I had never seen done before. He placed every scripture, every word Christ uttered concerning wealth and possession end to end, slap together. I was stunned. Taken one at a time, I believe I was able to rationalize them away or dismiss His words or just slide over them with an easy, "but I'm not rich." ...more
Lena Brewster
This book tackles materialism head on and is very thought provoking. I wish I could mandate it's reading to about 99 percent of Americans. I could stand to re-read it every few weeks!
Michael Hsu
In the eyes of God, our value is not tied to wealth, status, accomplishments or how fancy the title is on our business card. But rather we will be judge by how we treat our brothers and sisters and our obedience to God. This book talks about many provoking ideas such as we are only supervisors of material goods, we need to have some adversities or struggle in life in order to bring us to a greater good, we need to look out for the hungry and the poor and simplicity is an inward reality that is r ...more
Caroline
Apr 06, 2014 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: David
Shelves: 2014, nonfiction
"Perhaps no work is more foundational to the individual embodying Christian simplicity in the world than our becoming more comfortable in our own skin. The less comfortable we are with ourselves, the more we will look to things around us for comfort. The more assured we are with ourselves, the less assurance we will need from things outside us...We are to focus on the one rather than the many, the clear rather than the distorted, the simple rather than the complex. We are to reorient ourselves t ...more
Luke
Wonderful book. One that I wish I could just transfer to my heart and mind. This book contains vital perspective for Christians, especially us, embedded in a capitalistic society where everything is pandering to our desires and promising satisfaction. Foster reminds us that the simple, unified, focused heart following Christ is not only what we're called to , but where true joy waits. It's so easy to know in your head, but it's such a slow process-- really, it's walking with Christ. He writes ab ...more
Calinda
This book will make you think. Don't read it unless you're ready to really consider some things about how you live and make some changes. Because if you don't change a few things about how you live, your conscience will bother you about it until you do.

A reminder that we have SO MUCH, and alot of people in the world have so little. Do we really need it all?

And a glimpse into how simplifying, deleting, cutting back...all those things you can't find time to do...will both free up time for things t
...more
Alicia
Another book for Lenten reading from Quaker theologian Richard Foster. He lays out the Biblical argument for material and spiritual simplicity and offers examples from the early church fathers to 18th-20th century Quakers. He draws a distinction between walking the path of simplicity--which emphasizes great intention and focus--and being merely simplistic. He also offers guidelines on transforming society from the individual, congregational, and business and societal levels. Much of what is cont ...more
Ann-Marie
Feb 16, 2012 Ann-Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Richard Foster has in a very humble way written his thoughts about how to lead your life as a christian in a simple, grateful, humble and conscious way. It´s about solidarity with those not so rich, it´s about taking care of our world and it´s about freeing ourselves from the demands of this world, about how to be content with what we have, about trusting in God and about finding peace through a simpler way of life without isolating yourself from the world. I liked it. It´s of course a bit provo ...more
Ben
Foster has given us a very compelling book that tackles a very complicated subject (a paradox which even he admits to). While still managing to leave the matter broad enough for widespread lifestyle and life mile-marker application, Foster thankfully does not shy from getting into nitty-gritty matters.

I would recommend this book to anyone and simply suggest they skim it as much as need be on account of several cheesy or boring parts. If you are ripe for the taking, this book will pull you into i
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Karen E.
I read this book because I am interested in leading a simpler, less materialistic life. But what I actually liked about the book is the author's attitude toward scripture, prayer, and spirituality in general. The last third of the books seems to be specific to the leaders of Christian churches, but the first two-thirds were quite thought provoking. Foster is a Quaker, but I didn't realize this until I looked him up on Wikipedia. The book was first published in 1981, but I read the updated editio ...more
David
Two of the things I appreciate most about this book are its emphasis on simplicity of spirit and its creative, experimental approach to putting that spirit into practice. Living simply is primarily an internal matter--making a priority of the one needful thing. Foster refuses to lay down laws, but instead brainstorms a cornucopia of ways to put the spirit of simplicity into action. A favorite: before making a purchase, present your need to God and see whether you receive help from unexpected qua ...more
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Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today's Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an intrachurch movement committed to the renewal of the Church in all her multifaceted ...more
More about Richard J. Foster...
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines

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“Jesus Christ and all the writers of the New Testament call us to break free of mammon lust and live in joyous trust...They point us toward a way of living in which everything we have we receive as a gift, and everything we have is cared for by God, and everything we have is available to others when it is right and good. This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity. It is the means of liberation and power to do what is right and to overcome the forces of fear and avarice.” 12 likes
“And so I urge you to still every motion that is not rooted in the Kingdom. Become quiet, hushed, motionless until you are finally centered. Strip away all excess baggage and nonessential trappings until you have come into the stark reality of the Kingdom of God. Let go of all distractions until you are driven into the Core. Allow God to reshuffle your priorities and eliminate unnecessary froth. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, 'Pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor.' That is our first task: to grip the hands of Jesus with such tenacity that we are obliged to follow his lead, to seek first his Kingdom.” 8 likes
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