Friday, January 22, 2010

Indiana Owen-Jones is back: 'How to Live a Simple Life'

Just the other day the thought crossed my mind 'it's January, there must be a Peter Owen-Jones series coming up'. Then I wondered if there was anything else he could do after Extreme Pilgrim, and Around the World in 80 Faiths.

There is: How to Live a Simple Life is billed to air on BBC2 'in the Spring'. I hope they time it to coincide with Lent. Here's some of the blurb

Anglican priest, Peter Owen Jones, goes back to basics to try and live a simple and more meaningful life, inspired by the teachings of St Francis of Assisi, for a major new BBC Two series – How To Live A Simple Life.

The series was filmed over an eight-month period in Pete's small Sussex country village of Firle. Like millions of others Pete felt caught up in a pointless frenzy of spending.

St Francis was inspired by Jesus' sermon in the Gospel to live a life of "voluntary poverty" as the key to deeper relations with both nature and your fellow being.

Pete must grow his own crops, raise chickens, barter his skills for cuts of meat and even live without money.

He has to throw himself at the mercy of his community in the village of Firle, and ultimately at the mercy of total strangers, as he takes to the road without money, begging for food and accommodation.

After living a simple life, will Pete find that real meaning comes from helping one another rather than from mindless spending?

And are the best things in life really free?

On a similar theme, Andy Reed MP tried living on £5 a day last year, and you can read his blog on the subject. There's no question that we have to find a way to live on less: if everyone on the planet had the same consumption levels as the UK, we'd need 2 Earths to support it. The danger is that we watch one or two people downsize on our behalf, and feel that by watching it on TV and feeling vaguely approving we've done our bit. It's going to take a lot more than that.

Looking forward to it: I'm not always on the same page as POJ, but he's very watchable, and I love his ability to throw himself into things. There's a childlike enthusiasm there which I envy.


  1. This will be watched in my household for certain!!!!I'll keep my eyes open as this is something I had decided to practice more in 2010. Lentils are being cooked in my kitche by a good friend, as I type, a meat free meal tonight!

  2. While I would agree with living as simple a life as you can, I'm not too sure about the 2 Earths idea. If you go back into history the world's population consumed much less but the earth produced much less so the 2 Earths issue probably applied there too.

    So one solution is for us to consume less, the other solution is for us to produce more. There's enough energy and food to bring the entire world to British, or even American levels of consumption, if we actually wanted to.

  3. Any idea whether POJ's family (isn't he married/separated(?) with 4 kids?) had to go along with his "simple life"? If so, it will be interesting to see how teenagers cope with the idea of living with less - their addictions to money and all that it now provides in their lives in really quite scary compared with my own childhood in the 1970s.

  4. I was looking forward to watching this programme by Peter Owen Jones. I hadn't encountered him before and whilst the sentiment is admirable it all seemed very self-indulgent. It just seemed like an enjoyable programme for him to make and the only people to be shortchanged were definitely the parishioners. A bucket of veg in the summer certainly wasn't a good exchange for four organic point-of-lay hens which cost a considerable amount. I just felt that his efforts would have been better spent helping those who do go without ie. carers, single-parents, the infirm, disabled. Perhaps I shouldn't say it but I didn't see the holy attitude one might expect of St. Francis. It is interesting that he is a vicar, although I did think that he doesn't do too badly to get even a beautiful village home as a part-time vicar. I wonder why he doesn't want to be fulltime? I was left with many questions.