Sunday, March 30, 2008
I've always liked U2 and recently had been reading a bit more about them and their, well, theology. They have always been a group that sings about social justice issues and of course Bono has been an outspoken critic of the developed world's treatment of Africa. As I've read more and looked at the lyrics of their songs, I've become more and more of a fan. Not to mention cranking them up loud on a friday is kind of fun too! Well, having read Michelle Hargrave's blog (you have to scroll down a bit to read her experience) about seeing the 3D movie, I figured if we could see it we should. I wasn't really expecting too much from the 3D part. Anything "3D" I've seen in the past has been less than stellar. I was amazed. I was amazed at the 3D aspect, amazed at the crowd (it was filmed in a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires and there were easily 150,000 people), amazed at the stage presence of the entire band, amazed at the music and absolutely blown away by the message. The movie was a 90 minute (seemed like 10) lesson in human rights and social justice. I only wish I had seen it earlier (it leaves Minnesota this week), as I would have gone again, and probably again.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I spent a little time early this morning revamping my link listings. They are by no means complete and I'll likely update them as more things come to mind. The pages listed do represent places I tend to visit, blogs I like to read, and so forth.
One of my regular visits is to David Bard's Faith and Feathers blog. This week his mentioned a situation that paralleled some thoughts and discussions I've had in the last few months. It basically boils down to what should the church be talking about. Is it wrong to question torture in a sermon? Or how about relating our use of bottled water to the millions of people around the world without potable water? Is that fair game for a sermon? Global climate change? Is it OK to preach the gospel of prosperity? Lot's of people would say that we shouldn't be talking about torture, or nationalism in church. I've run into a good number that don't feel we have a place in a discussion on environmentalism.
I agree with David that clergy, and the church (which includes laity), need to discuss these issues with sensitivity and intelligence. I also believe that we have a strong biblical basis for doing so - particularly with regard to environmental stewardship, nationalism, and issues of social justice. I also believe that people will go where they hear what they want to hear. People don't want to feel uncomfortable, particularly in church. Unfortunately, that often means they go to feel good about themselves and reinforce that level of comfort. So, when a denomination (insert UMC, PCUSA, ELCA) shows a declining membership, does that mean we need to skip talking about difficult subjects? On the contrary, I believe we need to get the message out that we need to discuss these issues in a manner that is sensitive, intelligent and balanced with the teachings of Christ. We need to let people know that they are free to discuss these issues, debate them. That it is OK to disagree. As David noted in his other blog (Bard's Brushstrokes) in reference to Paul's letter to the Galatians "If pleasing people was what most motivated Paul, he would never have become a Christian missionary, a servant of Christ." In that respect, I think we need to put a little "Paul" in our service to Christ.
Being a disciple of Jesus isn't easy. He warns us of that numerous times in the Gospels. In fact, it means there are going to be some uncomfortable times.
Those are just some lunch-hour thoughts.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I've found this practice of posting something everyday challenging and enjoyable. Sometimes I was able to plan out what I was going to say, other mornings it was a scramble to put something together. In the end it was very rewarding and I thank those of you who stopped by to check things out from time to time.
I'll probably take a little hiatus from the blog now. I need to put the final touches on my talk for the AAR next weekend. I'll try to post the text for that afterwards - it's on a Theological View of Leopold's Land Ethic.
Get out and enjoy spring. Look for a pasqueflower, listen for some goose music, feel God's presence in His creation.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Water is what cleanses us. We're baptized in water, making us part of the Christian community. Peter Mayer sings about Stirrin' up the Water. Let's just hope it's clean!
Friday, March 21, 2008
With regard to food, writer Brian Halweil notes:
"The economic benefits of world trade are a myth. The big winners are agribusiness monopolies that ship, trade, and process food. Agricultural policies, including the new Farm Bill, tend to favor factory farms, giant supermarkets, and long-distance trade; and cheap, subsidized fossil fuels encourage long-distance shipping. The big loosers are the worlds poor."
May the solemn holiness of the Triduum lead you to a glorious Easter.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in."
I couldn't agree more and that's why I have such grave concern for the lack of nature in our lives. I see a direct connection between the United States becoming the most obese nation in the world and our lack of connectivity to the land. We need to get out more, we need to understand where our food comes from, and above all we need to reconnect to the land, which after all is God's creation. Because of our lost connections to the land we are physically over weight and spiritually deficient.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
For many of us, hearing or seeing a goose, particularly of the canada variety, isn't that big of a deal. Yet it wasn't that many years ago that the only ones we would see would be flying north in the spring or south come fall. In fact, geese in general have become so common that they are often considered pests. I can recall making family trips to Horicon National Wildlife Refuge each fall just to look at the 125,000 or so canada geese using the refuge. My kids don't think twice about seeing a goose.
Much of the explosion of the goose population has been due to our alteration of their environment. We've eliminated virtually all of their predators. They thrive in areas of short grass - suburban lawns, golf courses, airports. It's a shame they've gotten to the point where people take them for granted and even moreso that they despise them for the mess they make of our parks, lakes, and sidewalks. Yet each spring, they instinctually wing northward; not doubting whether or not the habitat necessary for them to successfully raise their young will be there. I realize I'm giving a goose the ability to reason, but I still think we can learn a lesson about faith from these amazing creatures.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
When the pioneer hewed a path for progress through the American wilderness, there was bred into the American people the idea that civilization and forests were two mutually exclusive propositions. Development and forest destruction went hand in hand; we therefore adopted the fallacy that they were synonomous. A stump was our symbol of progress. We have since learned, with some pains, that extensive forests are not only compatible with civilization, but absolutely essential to its highest development.
I disagree with him on this. I don't think we've learned anything about forests, water, prairies, and wetlands being compatible with, let alone essential to the development of civilization. There are few cases where nature even ties with development or civilization.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Aldo Leopold likens the spring migration of geese to a prophet who has burned his bridges - once they are here they are at the mercy of the weather; a little too soon and bad weather can imperil them and their nests. Migration for a goose is a "leap" or flight of faith.
Leopold also notes that too many of us (and recall that this was written in the 1940's) are not able to hear goose music anymore. He laments:
A march sky is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese. I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof. Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers.
Hoping you can hear some goose music this week.
Friday, March 14, 2008
And it is written: The Spirit of the Lord fills the Earth". This means that no creature, whether visible or invisible, lacks a spiritual life....The clouds too have their course to run. The moon and stars flame in fire. The trees shoot forth buds because of the power in their seeds. Water has a delicacy and a lightness of motion like the wind. This is why it springs up from the Earth and pours itself into running brooks. Even the Earth has moisture and mist.
All creatures have something visible and invisible.
No tree blossoms without greening power, no stone is without moisture; no creature is without its own power.
Caring for the living and delicate earth became a sacred trust for Hildegard. This sacred trust eminates from a vision she had. In the vision God said to her:
I am the supreme and fiery force who kindled every living spark, and I breathed forth no deadly thing - yet I permit them to be. As I circle the whirling sphere with my upper wings - that is with wisdom - rightly I ordained it. Am I am fiery life of the essence of God: I flame above the beauty of the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And, with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life. For the air is alive in the verdure and the flowers; the waters flow as isf they lived; the sun too lives in its light; and when the moon wanes it is rekindled by the light of the sun, as if it lived anew. Even the stars glistened in their light as if alive..
I flame above the beauty of the fields to signify the earth - the matter from which God made man. I shine in the waters to indicate the soul, for, as water suffeses the whole earth, the soul pervades the whole body. I burn in the sun and the moon to denote reason, and the stars are the innumerable words of reason.
May you be given the grace to cherish the earth and to always marvel at the glory of God's Creation.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"The landscape of any farm is the owner's portrait of himself. Conservation implies self-expression in that landscape, rather than blind compliance with economic dogma."
I would argue that the landscape is also a portrait of society. Silt filled rivers, ditches filled with topsoil, exposed black prairie soil as far as one can see, waterways filled with algae, a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, and tropics freed of native plant growth would seem to be the portrait we are currently painting for ourselves. I think it's time for a new canvas.
A meal is an act of quiet
consecration, of holy service,
made no less significant
because it is so common.
(From Kent Nerburn, Small Graces)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
From Wendell Berry:
Through the weeks of deep snow
we walked above the ground
on fallen sky, as though we did
not come of root and leaf, as though
we had only air and weather
for our difficult home.
as March warms, and the rivulets
run like birdsong on the slopes,
and the branches of light sing in the hills,
slowly we return to the earth.
Enjoy the day God has given us.
Monday, March 10, 2008
This past week I was cleaning out my car (happens rather infrequently) and found Neil Young's "prairie wind". I had listened to it some last summer but didn't really spend much time with it. So the other day when I put it in the player and really heard "When God Made Me" I was blown away. I'm used to hearing Neil Young sing hard hitting songs about social issues, but this isn't like that. I see it as an honest questioning of what God had in mind when he created us.
You can listen to it here and clicking on "When God Made Me".
Sunday, March 9, 2008
"The goods of the earth, which in the divine plan should be common patrimony, often risk becoming the monopoly of a few who often spoil it and, sometimes, destroy it, thereby creating loss for all of humanity." Pope John Paul II, Canticle of the Creatures, 1991
Saturday, March 8, 2008
"We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in."
This statement relates to his concern over the urbanization of this country and resulting detachment from the land. For as we remove ourselves from the land we become less aware of how it functions. Regardless of where we live - downtown Minneapolis or downtown Herman - we depend on it. Yet we loose that realization of dependency as we become urbanized and indeed we find that "food comes from the grocery store".
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Ecology tries to understand the interactions between living things and their environment. Every living thing represents an equation of give and take. Man or mouse, oak or orchid, we take a livelihood from our land and our fellows, and give in return an endless succession of acts and thoughts, each of which changes us, our fellows, our land, and its capacity to yield us a further living. Ulitmately we give ourselves.
From Ecology and Politics, Published in 1941.
Man's fate is like that of animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
From Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, Published sometime around, or shorly after the reign of King Solomon
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
In a Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold makes a number of references to religious views of land. Those are of great interest to me. I'll try to expand on those during the course of these postings, but for starters:
A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these "resource," but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.
In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
In human history we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating. Why? Because it is implicit in such a role that the conqueror know, ex cathedra, just what makes the community clock tick, and just what is valuable, and what and who is worthless, in community life. It always turns out that he knows neither, and this is why his conquests eventually defeat themselves.
There is a great deal to digest there. But I see a number of parallels with society as a whole as we deal with any number of social issues. Perhaps humans have it too difficult. We are called to be community with our fellow man AND part of the larger community of God's creation. Somehow I don't think God would have given us a role of caretaker, conservators of His creation if He didn't think we could handle it. The question then becomes how are we doing in that role?
From Peter Mayer's newest CD Still in one Peace - (part of the title track which you can hear on his website)
What if Love was a shepard's eye
Could see one lost for the ninety nine
And Faith and hope were a tiny seed
That could bloom into a family tree
I've believed betrayed swayed and discussed
Still feel like a wrapped up Lazarus
Haven't made sense of the Mystery
But it makes sense of me
And I'm still in one peace
Still in one peace
We are blessed we are broken
Every day a chance to be
One together again
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
A passage from "The Land Ethic" -
A land ethic ... reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.
As a society we also have a responsibility towards the health of the land. As members of God's creation we do as well ........ how's that going?
Monday, March 3, 2008
There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
This was written in the late '30's, published in the late '40's. In our world that has since become even more insulated from the land, from nature, from our sources of heat and food, this statement is even more profound. As fewer and fewer people have ties to the land it becomes more and more difficult to preserve its integrity, its wholeness.
More Leopold to come in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I found these passages from Meister Eckhart and they seemed to fit in with an assignment I was doing for my class in Luke/Acts.
"What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love ...."
"What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action"
The assignment was to discuss why Mary needs Martha as much as Martha needs Mary within the context of Luke 10:38-42. My take is that discipleship requires balance. Balance that includes contemplation and spiritual discernment as well as works. Mary was right by listening but to be a true disciple she needed to include the actions of discipleship. Martha, while being a good hostess needs to listen, to include more spirituality into her discipleship.