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I am becoming my grandfather, and that is a good thing. Let me explain.

The more I have gotten involved in the evangelical creation-care movement, the more I have found myself drawn toward practices that my grandparents did—or would have done if they were available. Each time I "reduce-reuse-recycle," I become more like Grandpa Gushee from Milton, Massachusetts.

I am becoming convinced that creation care and what we evangelicals usually call "stewardship" are basically the same thing. This discovery is slowly changing my family's lifestyle. The more that lifestyle changes, the more I skip back about 60 years to the values of an earlier generation.

These are values such as hard work, modesty in consumption, consistent giving, frugality in spending, saving for the future, and squeezing every last drop of value out of our possessions. You work hard and earn an honest living, spend your money judiciously after setting aside a generous portion for giving and saving, buy only what you need, and make it last as long as you can.

To be fair, these were values that my parents tried to instill in my sisters and me. But we were children of the 1960s and 1970s. Parental values had a hard time competing with mall values, schoolmate values, and TV commercial values.

I know that I haven't warmed easily to simple living. I didn't get everything I wanted as a kid, but I did get as much as I needed and some of what I wanted.

Early married years saw some pretty simple living. As newlyweds, Jeanie and I delivered newspapers for a time while we went to school in Louisville. That was not fun. Date night consisted of cheese bread and water at Pizza Hut. A whole date for $3.00!

But as our income increased, our lifestyle went up with it. Three years ...

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Do Likewise
David P. Gushee serves as Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University, where he also chairs the Mercer Lyceum initiative on rebuilding democracy. His column ran from 2005 to 2007.
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July 2007

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