Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gardens and Justice and Ahab

I just finished reading this book, and despite some of its melodramatic writing, the main thread of this book was cool, where each of the ethnic gardens surveyed from New England to the West coast was about gardening's connection to social justice.

The deeper I go into gardening, it moves beyond a therapeutic, individual hobby to something where the production of our food is social and political, where it can become a struggle for power, identity, and values. And the underdog champions in this book are the small gardener/farmers who are either facing a bleak future preserving the past or finding some new hope after escaping poor or oppressive pasts.

I was also interested in how Scipture used the word "garden" after this and if there was any connection to social justice. The strongest one was about the story of King Ahab who coveted Naboth's vineyard, asking to buy the land so he could plant his vegetable garden (1 Kings 21). Naboth's answer to Ahab didn't really resonate until now as I read about Native Americans and others who speak of "their" land in ancestral terms:
"The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers." Doesn't seem like asking much from our Western views of land and property, but the "inheritance of my fathers" is more than just a piece of dirt--it's about memory, identity, and respecting the past. The story becomes an issue of social justice in that the powerful king takes it through murdering Naboth, the weaker and innocent victim. From this incident we see the final judgment on Ahab and his house put into motion.

Good "food" for thought :P

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Ocean Analogy (Gone Wild)

I was looking out this morning from a bluff overlooking the ocean after a short run in Santa Barbara, a favorite weekend getaway for us. I was impressed by the surfers out there with real skillz--as well as the ginormous aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the background (on shore leave apparently).

At first I was reminded that mission is like riding the waves of the Spirit, what God is already doing. We do not seek to impose our preconceived ideas of how the "wave" should act, but take all that information in stride to form our approach, which can change at any time. It takes skill, discernment, and apparently lots of practice too! But it's the wave that determines our approach.

Contrast this to the aircraft carrier which is immune to the puny waves and imposes its will with its sheer size. It becomes the focus of awe and impressiveness. I read in the local paper that if the carrier was put on its end, it would be as tall as the Empire State building.

I made a correlation in church planting, or at least in what kind of community God is calling these days. No more giant aircraft carrier churches like Saddleback, which can influence by its sheer size...impressive, but for what reasons? Rather, we see small groups of people coming together to ride the waves of what God is doing.

I'm sure the analogy can get ridiculous as I get going...if I knew more about surfing and aircraft carriers, I probably would!