Book review: Unstuff by Hayley and Michael DiMarco
|Unstuff: Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters|
When I was a kid, there was a TV show with Gerald McRaney. No, not Major Dad, but after that, where he and his family sold most of what they owned, loaded up in a Suburban pulling a camper, and toured across America. For the record, this was an old-school Suburban, not one of the new stylish ones. It was an interesting show, and a fairly positive one. I've wondered about living that life with my kids, or if anyone has ever tried it.
Well, Hayley and Michael DiMarco took a shot at it. They didn't exactly have to divest everything, but they downsized and then spent 3 months living and traveling in an RV, with only what they could fit in it. This led to the book Unstuff, which I received free from Tyndale House Publishers to review for this blog. Now, to give the qualification to the situation, the DiMarcos kept their jobs, although being authors isn't exactly stable work anyway, and still had a place to come back to.
However, the book is a great read. Why?
The DiMarcos present in this book the real clash between American culture and Christianity: the American ideal lends itself to amassing material wealth, while Biblical Christianity does not focus on stuff. Nor should we allow material wealth to come to us and sit idly, rather than using it for the purposes of the Kingdom of God. They present, very plainly, what Scripture says of these issues.
They also, though, put their own feelings into the book. Rather than sit back from a pious perfection of “we did it and had no regrets,” the regrets are here. The struggles are here, the thoughts, the frustrations. It's refreshing to see people admit that it's difficult to do what's right, rather than proclaim a truth as if it was easily learned and easily done.
Visuals: this book is constructed for the short attention span. Honestly, I have a feeling that most people prior to my generation will have trouble with the book. Not over content, but over form. There are font changes, simple graphics, and set-off boxes to highlight material. It makes the book easier to go through, and I found that I had read the whole thing much easier than I expected.
There is one major irony in this book. The DiMarcos do an excellent job challenging us to focus less on material, focus more on God, and focus on the real relationships we have. There are a couple of points exhorting the reader to be where they are, interacting with the people around them. Yet all through the book are short, one-liner phrases that are 140 characters or less. Yep, while reminding us all to focus on real talks with real people, the book still gets summarized for Twitter. That's the 21st Century, though. What would we expect? After all, how many characters would you have allotted to telegraph it in the 19th Century?
I liked this book. I will actually be pressuring the young adult Sunday School teacher at church to read it and consider using it as a study guide for a few weeks. It's well worth it.
And speaking as someone who has averaged moving no less than once every two years of his life, I'm all for reducing stuff. Though I hope to not move for quite some time.