An Experimental Mutiny against Excess: The Pirate’s Version

7 concrete cover photo (blog IB promo)BACKGROUND

This past week I finished Jen Hatmaker’s funny, poignant, and life-changing book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Let me make it clear at the start: I did not pirate the book. On the contrary, I bought it, then bought the workbook 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. I’ll be going through it with several friends in Orange. When I was at the 62% mark of the book, I bought the paperback for my pastor and Kindle versions for our church’s intern and apprentice. So I am no treasure-stealing hooligan.

My pirate’s version of my own mutiny will be allowing for personal and divine blessings to color the experiment. Pirate means that these are guidelines rather than rules. Aargh.

I am an impatient person. That should explain why I read the book before starting the class. I am an engineer. That should explain why I’ve finessed the formula. Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, God, and other cultures. That should explain why I’d incorporate a teeny slice of personal research into experimenting with fasts. No worries, Jen Hatmaker. This is still about your work.

From her blog:

A seven-month experimental mutiny against excess, tackling seven areas of overconsumption in the spirit of a fast; a fast from greed, irresponsibility, apathy, and insatiability. Each area boiled down to just seven choices for a month:


Only seven foods for a month. Only seven pieces of clothes for a month. Give away seven things we own a day for a month. Eliminate seven forms of media for a month. Adopt seven substantial habits for a greener life. Spend money in only seven places. Practice “seven sacred pauses” a day and observe the Sabbath…a deeply reduced life to find a greatly increased God.

By the way, it appears that the workbook does each excess fast in a week rather than in a month. Sigh of relief.


Engineers do rapid prototyping either in a program’s proposal period or soon after the program’s award. Rapid prototyping can include writing spaghetti code for software, building breadboards for hardware (or an engineering model developed in a garage shop), and architecture modeling for the system. Sophisticated apps can also wring out design options, potential problems, and risk mitigation.

My front end preparation included whittling down the list of spending venues, creating a study sheet for the sacred pauses, buying heirloom seeds and early planting for the garden, and having anxiety attacks over the future media and clothing fasts. I also produced rapid prototypes for the food and possessions experiments.

7 lunch (blog ib promo)Jen Hatmaker’s seven foods for a month were: chicken breast, avocado, spinach, sweet potato, eggs, whole wheat bread, and apple. My pirate version will be: fish, avocado, spinach&arugula, apples, eggs, sweet potato, sprouted flour-less bread and anything given unsolicited to me from friends’ gardens (including my own). I’m a fish-and-egg-eating vegan trying to limit nightshade veggies, which is why I’m allowing myself any boiled, baked or broiled fish and arugula with the occasional spinach. Accepting gifts from my garden (only tangerines, lemons, and basil at this time of year) and from friends’ gardens reminds me, even in a fast, of blessings from heaven. My rapid prototype shown in the picture was an arugula salad with diced raw apple and sweet potato AND a half sandwich of fried egg and fresh spinach on a toasted Trader Joe’s sprouted, flour-less, wheat bread. Okay, the sandwich without my regular hot-sweet mustard tasted a wee bit dry. On the pirate version, I would allow a slice of tomato (currently in my fridge from my pastor’s garden) and avocado (also in the fridge from my friends Lori and Jeff’s tree). Oh wait, avocado is already on the list!

7 box of books (blog ib promo)Filling a box with books was my quick test for daily giving away seven possessions. It took less than ten minutes to fill the box, and included more than seven books. Keeping the box in my trunk will serve as a mobile lending (and giving) library for friends and members of my various critique and write-in groups. I’ll gratefully re-stock with more from my teetering piles of books. On a different day, I happily gave away some professional office clothes to a between-jobs friend. Yesterday I cleared a few items from my pantry for another friend on a limited income. This may be my favorite excess fast.

I highly recommend reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and experimenting too. Can you imagine a lighter load? Can you imagine the improvements to the environment, our health, our spirits, and the local and global economy? I can and am ready to mutiny!


Indelible Beats copy-001Today Lit Central OC featured an excerpt of the second short book in the Abishag Mystery series, Indelible Beats. I cannot describe how thrilled I am to see it there. The excerpt begins at a small cafe in Venice, California, and the e-zine editor chose a wonderful photo for the feature.

Check it out at:

About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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2 Responses to An Experimental Mutiny against Excess: The Pirate’s Version

  1. Rebecca Lang says:

    You sound so apologetic for barely bending the rules. I think it’s good you’re accepting gifts from your garden and from others. But what are we going to do for our It’s a Grind Wednesdays?

  2. Rebecca Ifland says:

    Aaargh! (you know, somehow my birthday was designated ‘National talk like a pirate day’) In the non- pirate spirit, I bought the Kindle version of 7, then bought the special Audible add-on to listen to the book. And then I reflected that one of the 7 is to fast from 7 types of media. Well, this is all new to me (the media that is) so I am not worrying about it yet. Thanks for sharing.

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