Today is the Feast of Saint Martin, traditionally a big day of celebration in all countries around Europe and the start of a period of fasting and preparation for Christmas. It was the last day of harvest celebrations and the following days saw a period of simplification and slowing down. Less, rather than more, was seen as the way to keep our bodies and minds in harmony with natural rhythms at this time of year.
The notion of a spirituality of subtraction comes from Meister Eckhart (c.1260-1327), the medieval Dominican mystic. He said the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition.
Yet I think most Christians today are involved in great part in a spirituality of addition. The capitalist worldview is the only one most of us have ever known. We see reality, experiences, events, other people, and things — in fact, everything — as objects for our personal consumption. Even religion…worship services, and meritorious deeds become ways to advance ourselves…The nature of the capitalist mind is that things (and often people!) are there for me. Religion looks good on my résumé, and anything deemed “spiritual” is a check on my private worthiness list.
Richard Rohr, Radical Grace