I’ve been pushing hard all summer on a major writing project with the goal of finishing the intial writing by the end of September. This is the main reason you’ve seen less posts on Our Father’s World than usual. Sorry about that – but hopefully the end product will be worth the wait.
In the meantime, enjoy this video clip from Chipotle. You may know that I’m not much of a fast-food advocate – but this company does seem different.
Care of Creation, my organization, does a lot of work teaching people in Kenya and other East African countries about the dangers of destroying forests. God gave us trees for good reason: In terms of hydrology (water cycles), trees are essential. They are like the columns holding up the roof of a building – lose the trees, the whole system falls apart. It turns out that something very similar is going on in the Mississippi River watershed of middle America. We’re a richer country – but it appears that mere wealth can’t stop a flood. When we human beings carelessly destroy vital parts of the world God gave us to live in, it doesn’t seem to matter whether we’re living in a village in Kenya or on a farm in Missouri.
Lost in the blizzard of headlines over the last week – tornadoes, weddings, the death of a terrorist – is the developing flood situation in the Mississippi River valley. The few stories that we’ve seen have focused on what one commentator called a solomonic dilemma: Whether to save a small, struggling riverside city (Cairo, Illinois) or hundreds of thousands of acres of the country’s best farmland in Missouri. That case has been all the way to the US Supreme Court in the last 48 hours, with the result that last night the Corps blasted two miles of levees at Bird’s Point, just south of Cairo in order to reduce the pressure on that community’s flood defenses. As of this writing, the river has receded by a foot – the Corps hopes that they’ll see three more feet of decline in the next couple of days. Continue reading →
[“Old Literature” is an occasional series of posts on works from the past (and in some cases, the not-so-long-ago-past) that still speak today. Here are some of the earlier posts.]
Wendell Berry maybe best known for his essays on agrarian (hence environmental and ecological) topics; his greatest work, to my mind, is in his novels, all of which take place in and around and concern the “membership” of Port William, a small river town in Kentucky. My wife Susanna and I recently finished reading (aloud, of course!) Hannah Coulter, and we are now halfway through Jayber Crow. Yes, I know we’re working backwards – that’s how life is sometimes. Anyway – last night’s selection caught my attention and seems worth sharing. Enjoy the selections – but better, get out and read the book!
Jayber, whose religion is real and deep and passionate and mostly of the unorganized variety, is the town’s barber – and gravedigger – and permanent bachelor – and, in this chapter, has just become the Port William’s church janitor. Jayber’s observations on the nature of the preaching (and preachers) in this rural church are important, and reflect Berry’s perception of a fundamental flaw in the Christian faith as practiced at that time and in that place: Continue reading →
Long-time readers of this blog will remember John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie Farms in Columbus Wisconsin. We’ve been friends for a couple of years and I’ve watched John and Dorothy’s progress as they have developed Fountain Prairie Farms. John stopped by one of my seminars in Madison a couple of years ago and stole the show, and the Fountain Prairie table at the Dane County (Madison) Farmer’s Market is the first place I stop just before Hook’s Cheese and Pecatonica Farm and the guy who sells me purple potatoes. I’m starting to learn that ‘eating local’ isn’t a principle – it’s participating in a web of relationships.
So when I turn on my television for the evening news, and my favorite farmer is featured – that’s exciting stuff! John and Dorothy were named ‘Wisconsin Conservation Farmer of the Year’ for their work at Fountain Prairie. Here’s the story, and here’s a clip: Continue reading →
This won’t be a surprise to those who paid attention to some of the serious weather events of 2010: When Russia’s wildfires exploded, we heard that Russia would be banning wheat exports for the immediate future. Then Pakistan lost an entire rice harvest and a good deal of wheat due to the worst flooding in that nation’s history – requiring Pakistan to import more than it normally would have done. And now Australia’s floods are affecting not only coal but wheat and other commodities. Continue reading →
Flourish Online Magazine has been running a feature celebrating the 30th anniversary of the publication of Wendell Berry’s essay, “The Gift of Good Land”. This essay draws lessons on “ecological and agricultural responsibility” not from Genesis 1 or 2 or even Romans 8, but from the Old Testament story of God’s gift of the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants: “a divine gift to a fallen people.” And that certainly applies to us, doesn’t it?
Read the essay here, and comments from many leaders in the field of creation care here. Below is my contribution to this collection…
On being introduced to the world of Christian environmental stewardship about ten years ago, I found early on that I had a lot of catching up to do. Wendell Berry was one of the authors I was directed to who has taught and continues to teach me. Evidently, this is true of many of my colleagues as well. It is a privilege to be counted among those who have sat at Wendell’s feet and learned from him, and I am sure I am not the only one who wishes that that learning could have been in person rather than through the pages of his books. Continue reading →
A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation