With regard to ecology and our decimation of the planet, what role do we play as those charged with stewardship of the planet? More specifically, what link does that have with worship when, for example, harvest has become a place to thank God for tesco and collect tins of food rather than a chance to be connected to the places and people who grow food and to think about how that happens and if it is just?
Peter Owen-Jones spoke about our deep connection to the planet. Avatar was on TV on Monday night.
Both have the same message. There is a deep relationship that all living things share. We know this to be true but seem incapable of living in a way that respects that relationship. We humans are without doubt the abusive partners in this relationship.
In Avatar the relationship ‘The People’ have with the planet it physically portrayed. They quite literally link to it. It’s easy to see. What Owen-Jones didn’t do was to really explore what the ‘new Christianity’ of his talk’s title would look like, what our link to our planet is and what role faith has in modeling a way to live.
Owen-Jones suggested that he was fed up of harvest festivals which were little more than a tribute to supermarkets, where tins of processed food are gathered and distributed because that has no relationship to the harvest. He said he wouldn’t do another after this year.
An organic farmer in the audience challenged him to do better.
Doing better, finding ways to help people to reconnect with the land, seems to me to be at least as important as raising the issue in the first place. We all know that we are having a calamitous impact on the world. The question is surely what can we as a community of faith do about that?
My thought was to start where the organic farmer started. Do better with harvest… and from there rediscover the rhythm of the year, the Christian year.
We have a cycle which takes us from birth to death and resurrection, periods of emptiness in Lent, creation-tide and harvest.
This cycle is a deep rhythm which we have stopped playing because we have become disconnected from the land.
I don’t grow anything.
I don’t dig or plant or weed or pick.
It must be up to us to help people to reconnect. We should grow things in our church land. We should engage with people who make things and grow things. We should talk about the environment and our responsibilities to it.
I’ve had a persistent thought that connects this thought to some of the others… this lack of rhythm is part of the cause.
When did we stop fasting at Lent? And why? Is it too hard? I doubt it. Muslims manage at Ramadan. Lent is in winter. Not eating between dawn and dusk shouldn’t be that hard.
Wouldn’t abstinence of that kind be much more of a spiritual practice than giving up chocolate?
Forty days of ritual fasting.
In England there has been a resurgence in the celebration of ‘Plough Sunday’ on the first Sunday after Epiphany in January. It marks the start of the agricultural year when farmers begin to work in the fields. That might be less appropriate at that time of year in Scotland but perhaps we should find our own rhythm.
As fewer and fewer of us work the land it must be more and more important that we help people to maintain a link with it. There is a rhythm to life, it’s a powerful beat, and it is mirrored in the rhythm of church.
Let’s start playing along again.