Soul Food: “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”


After two weeks of reading, I finally finished 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  And I’m mad about it.  Not because I’ve read it, but because there is no more left to read.  (Am I the only one who finds finishing good books to be a bittersweet experience?)

Hatmaker’s personal account of seven months of fasting really hit home for me because in her, I recognize myself.  A witty (read:  sarcastic) lover of words, reading, writing.  A relatively privileged American woman brought up in church, yet unable to make the kind of spiritual connection with God for which she was hoping.

She recognized that her excessive lifestyle might be the hindrance in that relationship, a revelation precipitated by an undoubtedly poor child referring to her middle-class family as “rich.”  So after much contemplation and soul-searching, she decided to fast as a means of repentance for her over-consumption and preparation for a spiritual awakening.

Hatmaker’s fast took the form of drastic simplification, all boiling down to the number seven:  seven months, seven areas to simplify, seven ways at a time.  Her husband, children, several friends, even some strangers who’d heard of her wacky experiment also participated in this endeavor.

Here is a list of the areas she chose to work on each month (in order):

  1. Food
  2. Clothing
  3. Possessions
  4. Media
  5. Waste
  6. Spending
  7. Stress

At first glance, each of these things may seem unrelated to spirituality.  Still, Hatmaker simplified what she could in the physical realm in order to make progress in the intangible spiritual domain.  And guess what?  Spoiler alert(!!):  Her efforts actually worked.  To paraphrase her revelation:  Where she reduced, Jesus increased.  She made room for God to work in her life, and in turn, gained clarity about her purpose here on Earth.

There are so many highlighted sentences and paragraphs in my copy of 7 that selling, donating, gifting, or lending it is no longer an option.  But the paraphrased, meat-and-potatoes meaning of this book is that to truly know the Lord, you must live as Christ lived.

There are, however, a couple of sugar-on-top phrases – one that elicited a smile, the other an out-loud belly laugh – that I just have to share with you because they speak to the humorous nature of the author and the style in which she writes.  (No holier-than-thou guilt trip.  Hatmaker is totally relate-able and so funny.)

So I’ll leave you with these gems:

  • “I serve a Savior who finds a way to get pink purses to homeless six-year-old girls.” 
  • “The kids reenacted ‘The Three Little Pigs’ with some questionable alterations to the plot.  Why did the boys’ puppets have machetes?  We don’t ask these questions in the Hatmaker house.  They just do.  Thank you for understanding.”

I loved this book so much, that my initial review was more than twice this length.  So I did a lot of paring down and deleting… But I’m still splitting it into two parts.  To find out WHAT I LEARNED FROM READING 7 and WHY I RECOMMEND YOU READ 7, click HERE.

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