I stumbled upon Peter Owen Jones’s interesting mini series named ‘How to live a simple life’ on YouTube last night. Produced by the BBC six years ago, it reinforces that my quest for a simpler life is nothing new to many others who have asked the same questions I am now asking. However, I find listening to others’ stories and experiences with slowing down, simplifying and reinstating to their proper positions the most important things in life to be edifying.
Peter, a vicar in the Sussex area, UK, decides to live without money. His primary motivations are twofold (at least, in the first episode; I am yet to watch the second and third episodes): to follow the example of Francis of Assisi and to promote a richer community life in his small town.
I liked that it wasn’t always a romantic portrayal of homestead living; Peter readily admitted that in the beginning, his life was actually made more complicated as he focused solely on survival, and he did struggle with his pride in accepting help from others.
However, his new choices led to deepening relationships in the community that may never have grown in his previous ‘life’. Bartering home-grown vegetables for chickens introduced him to a local farmer he didn’t previously know. Washing dishes at the pub in exchange for a meal had the pub employees talking about what would drive him to choose to live simply, and resulted in Peter being invited to one of the employee’s homes for dinner – and the opportunity to hear his story of being made redundant.
How does this relate to simple Christian schooling? I’m not 100% sure. I don’t know where Peter Owen Jones’s theology lies; I suspect that being a Church of England vicar he probably stands on the left side of the political spectrum. However, I’m inspired that in an episode that doesn’t mention Jesus once, a simple Christian life can have a profound witness to the community. Schooling is an integral part of community life, and we are training children in the way that they should go. Perhaps a Christian school should model what good life can look like, so that others looking in are drawn to the good news.
Peter Owen Jones: How to live a simple life Episode 1 can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yocVGSGNrBc (unfortunately no longer available on the BBC Two website).