Religion and Minimalism


This will be a difficult post for me to write. It is not always easy to get my thoughts down about something I feel strongly about. I also don’t want to offend anyone in this particular post. Just know that these ideas are my own. I am trying to express my views in a way to see if there is anyone out there who is like me and has had some of the same thoughts.

For the past year or more, I have been looking at religion, particularly the one in which I was raised and minimalism. I have been questioning many ideas and searching for answers I need for peace of mind. I want to be an example to Bean, not doing things because that is the way they always have been done, but because I have completed in depth studies and feel what I teach her is the best thing. Of course, she will make her own decisions as she ages. For a few of my questions I feel I have satisfactory answers. For others, I am still searching. I don’t put pressure on myself to get the answer today. I am looking at this process as a journey, because truly that is what we all are on.

In my studies, I have discovered something that really amazes me. In looking at minimalism as a practice, I feel that the simplicity of it makes a long list of religious rules unnecessary. In spite of the good that it might do, I have found that religion is often divisive. I do not find minimalism to be so. When individuals feel strongly about their religious (also political) beliefs, they often find it difficult to be at peace with others who do not share those same beliefs. For example, I have never seen a minimalist group that only spends time with minimalist groups and sends their children to the minimalist school and looks down on others who do not wear a capsule wardrobe or daily uniform. I have never seen minimalists exclude others who decide that minimalism is not for them. Have you?

When thinking about minimalism and religion, I often think of the way that many of the people I know who seek experiences over things often end up with better finances, relationships, health, and personal growth because they focus on only having what is truly important to them in their life. Many religions and religious people are stuck in tradition. If tradition dictates a way of living that is not necessarily healthy, financially sound, or doesn’t promote independent thinking, many religious people won’t question it.

I look at many religious people and minimalists, and though I know we never know the full story of the lives of many people, I tend to find the lives of many minimalists to be more in keeping with the ideals that religion seeks to spread. I am sure that it is possible to blend religion and minimalism, though; I haven’t seen it done often.

Maybe I am the only one who has this concern, the gap that exists between religion and minimalism. Because of my upbringing, I feel as if I should be more adamantly vocal about religion and embracing the church. However, I find myself less content with what I see and hear at churches versus what I find through simplifying my life through minimalism. Minimalism keeps everything so simple without all of the extra rules.

I know this post has been very introspective. I have tried hard to be clear with what I am feeling, however, I feel a bit as if I have been rambling. If you have had the same thoughts and understand what I am trying to convey, please leave me a comment below. It would be encouraging.

7 Comments on “Religion and Minimalism

  1. Hi, I just wanted to encourage you.
    As I understand it, the U.S. is strongly religious in many ways that you might not be aware of, it is so interesting to a traveller from another country. It would seem to me quite difficult to turn into another direction.
    I consider myself very spiritual, it doesn’t mean I am aligned to a single formal institution, there are so many on this planet to chose from.
    Minimalism turns us away from consumerism, perhaps you are recognising similarities in the structures we create for controlling society? I can only liken it to The Matrix movie, because academically, there is a whole other level of learning should you chose it.
    I look forward to reading your insights, truly, you have an inner grace that is so lovely.

    • Thank you so much for responding. You are right about a lot of it being that the
      U.S. is so religious in many ways. When I travel and return, I too find it odd.

  2. Minimalism shares many facets of spirituality. The focus on each thing or activity, the avoidance of greed, the considered life, all have a place in religion. Sadly in much modern religion, we have found ways around the rules so that one can be greedy and still feel religious. One can be self centered and have the church as part of that inward facing circle. Minimalism does take one closer to the core of many religions, no gluttony, no envy, no greed etc. It is not the fault of religion that so many people spend their time working around the rules that are meant to bring them closer to their God.

  3. Thank you for this post. You haven’t been rambling at all – it is a beautiful, very honest, very clear, very brave post, on a difficult topic. I read your blog for those exact reasons: I admire your deep honesty and I think you’re an extraordinary role model for “minimalist thinking”, if that’s a thing 😀 What I mean by “minimalist thinking” is that your posts are always so thoughtful, the disciplined way in which you examine what you think is an inspiration. We start with possessions, “Do I really need this? If I’m honest with myself, why am I keeping this?” and then we go on to examine beliefs, too. And I think it’s very difficult to keep this quiet voice to the fore when we live in a very materialistic, consumerist society, whether we’re religious or not. It does take discipline and constant effort. Perhaps religion itself is not the problem, as much as our human tendency in all things to go down the path that requires less effort. (And thank you in general for writing your blog the way that you do!)

  4. (oh also: there are many minimalist vloggers on YouTube who say they adopted minimalism as a practice to feel closer to God and to make sure they prioritise devotion, instead of just paying lip-service to the idea – the only name that comes to mind right now is Carrie Simple’s channel, but there are many others)

    • Thank you so much for your kind responses. I came very close to skipping this post
      this week because I just wasn’t sure, but I do feel strongly that I must
      examine beliefs as well as possessions. I will look up Carrie’s channel today!

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