Abstract: This article examines one intentional Christian community’s attempts to live a life that eschews consumerism and material growth for a life focused on spiritual growth and collectivity. I articulate intentional Christian living, often referred to as neo-monasticism, with the de-growth movement. I do so to offer insight into the practice and pragmatics of de-growth’s broadly understood call to revalue the ideals of life in an effort to reduce consumption. Neo-monasticism and de-growth have much in common including the critique of consumerism, individualism and increasing inequality. Both also promote relationships, locality, sharing, slowing down and quality of life over efficiency and incessant work. Drawing on four years of research with one residential Christian community, I suggest that the most challenging aspect of sharing a life together and slowing down is not simply consuming less or pooling resources but rethinking and living social values not driven by a consumerist-growth paradigm. While some de-growth advocates, such as Serge Latouche, promote ideals of harmony and oneness, in practice, living simply and sharing a life together is challenging and conflictual, even when religiously inspired.
Journal of Political Ecology 24: 543-565.
This is the seventh article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. “Degrowth, culture and power”, Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-466.