Living Simply Archive

Ready for Vocation of Parenthood

February 28, 2013 Celeste Kennel-Shank

The uneasy part is when the question pops up, as it often does, of whether I am thinking of having children.

Finding Digital Balance

December 27, 2012 Celeste Kennel-Shank

How can we use digital technology without it becoming an obstacle in our relationships with God and with each other?

Culture of Violence

November 29, 2012 Celeste Kennel-Shank

When a loved one dies, we feel the loss both in the shock after we hear the news and in the months and years as the absence continues. In Chicago, more than 300 families this year have borne the pain of having someone taken away from them by homicide. Leaders debate the cause of the high number of murders. Local and national news articles compare our city’s homicide rate to that of New York or Los Angeles, or the total deaths since 2001 to the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghan­istan. Chicago’s figures are worse in all three cases. […]

Call for a Jubilee at Walmart

October 26, 2012 Third Way

Walmart marks the 50th anniversary of its first store opening in Arkansas this month. In the midst of its celebrations, advocates for the retail giant’s employees are calling for a Jubilee. In the world of ancient Israel, five-decade cycles of Sabbaths culminated with the Jubilee year. Just as the seventh day was Sabbath, in the seventh year people rested from cultivating crops, granted remission of debts and set slaves free, as detailed in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15. After seven Sabbath years, horns accompanied proclamations of a time of restoring right relationships and recognizing God as the source of all […]

Indebted to Education

August 24, 2012 Third Way

Like many of us, I try to think carefully about how I spend my money, especially on larger items. I wouldn’t pay $30,000 for any amount of jewelry. I wouldn’t spend that to replace all the furniture in my house or all the clothes, shoes and accessories in my wardrobe. And yet I have spent much more than that on my education. After the recent transfer of my student loans from the original lender to another company, I spent the better part of an afternoon leafing through my past bills and trying to understand my current ones. When my frustration […]

Neighborhood’s Victory

July 27, 2012 Third Way

A coal-fired power plant stands a couple of blocks away from inhabited homes in the neighborhood where I live. Public health researchers have connected the operations of this plant, which does not meet current emission standards, to health conditions in our community, including asthma, which affects many of the children in this area. While this plant is not the only contributor to pollution in our neighborhood, it is a key factor. Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist, would likely understand our situation. She was raised in a town in Illinois where there was an aluminum smelter. In her early 20s, she survived […]

Companions of the grieving

June 8, 2012 Third Way

Grief causes myriad responses, and yet there are common threads. Many still talk about the stages of grief, including denial, bargaining and depression. Others refer to grief as having a set of tasks, such as accepting the reality of the loss. One thing that’s clear is that death causes a cascade of emotion. Shock. Anger. Heartache — real pain we feel in our chests. We mourn when we lose people we love. When encountering someone in mourning, many of us instinctively want to help. Yet lately I’ve been wondering if some of our well-worn traditions for responding to those going […]

Sacrificial year-end giving

April 27, 2012 Third Way

Each year signs of the holidays appear: lights on trees, candles in windows, calendars on sale in local businesses. For some of us, another item on that list is a growing pile of end-of-the-year appeals from nonprofit organizations. The pile, along with each letter, poses a challenge: Where and how should we give whatever we have to give at this time of year? One approach would be to decide on an amount one’s household could spare, and then give a portion of that to each of the organizations with which one has a connection. For some, a few of those […]

A Full Life, Joyfully Shared

February 24, 2012 Third Way

Cookie Wiebe lived simply, but she also lived fully. My thoughts turned to her often on November 1, All Saints Day, a time to remember those who have lived in the ways of God’s reign. Cookie had died of cancer at 57 the day before. When I joined the Mennonite Weekly Review staff in 2008, editor Paul Schrag introduced me to Cookie and her husband, Dave, as hosts during my trips to Newton, Kansas. I was impressed by their Christian commitment to whole-life stewardship. It went far beyond simple-living practices I had learned, such as line-drying clothes or washing plastic […]

Gift of Life

December 30, 2011 Third Way

When asked how he has been since becoming a kidney donor, Dan Coyne pours forth information about living donor registries, the high cost of dialysis and the need for education. It’s simple to sign up to donate organs and tissues if possible upon one’s death, on a drivers license or through a state registry. It’s an important step, but only a part of what is needed. There are more than 112,000 transplant candidates, with nearly 90,000 waiting for kidneys, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Only 7,000 people — living or dead — had donated organs […]