How To Live A Simple Review: Not So Easy

May 7, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


The BBC have struck a philosophical nerve with this new reality show that sees Peter Owen Jones – advertising drone come Church of England Vicar – try to abide by the principles of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th century monk who forfeited his ‘Playboy’ lifestyle to pursue fraternity and brotherhood in the face of wealth, greed and materialism. As Jones points out, his actions appear as extreme today as they did 700 years ago, especially since we are now living through a “love affair with more?.

This apposite view coincides at a time when issues of living within our means and the breakdown of society are hotly debated topics. However, how successfully in a modern society can we abide by such lofty, seemingly unachievable ambitions? Jones sets out to investigate by adopting three of the key principles espoused by the famous hobo Monk and putting them to task in the 21st century.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this programme will seek to moralise, perhaps even impress its Christian principles upon the viewer, a mere platform for Jones to expand his flock from a small rural community in Sussex to the expanses of the TV watching public. You’d be wrong. Whilst there is undoubtedly a Christian message of sacrifice – Jones ponders whether “A life of meaning is…sacrifice? – underlying proceedings the show is intriguingly philosophical. Helen, a local psychotherapist, suggests that by depending on others and their charity Jones is in fact unconsciously feeding a desire to return to childhood where being provided for is the norm. Whilst an aspect of this line of thinking may be true it does not account for the energy-draining efforts Jones must undertake in order to receive these kind gifts.

To jump off this “endless treadmill of working and buying? that leaves one feeling your worth is decided by your financial status Jones sets about establishing his own vegetable garden, performing menial jobs and learning how to exchange goods in return for his own needs. At the heart of all this is communication and human understanding which are crucial in order to barter and initiate a relationship of give and take.

Jones genuinely struggles to maintain the set of principles he wants to impart upon his parishioners and it makes for entertaining and thought provoking programming that thankfully leaves the preaching at home and lets the audience consider whether the titantic struggle between human nature and human need can be overcome in modern day society. This is credit crunch conscious television at is best.

robyn22 says:

I like Peter’s simple way of living and I am especially all for bartering. Just started with it recently, swapping books, and getting rid of things that I really didn’t need anymore, but obviously other people needed, for things I really needed. is one of those websites that helps facilitating this whole process. Bartering is resurrecting gradually. Keep on doing what you do, Peter.