Toward a Theology of Compost

I’ve been thinking a lot about compost lately. We never got around to starting a garden at our old house, which would have given us a reason to compost. Our new digs at the Farm have a composting toilet. Of course they also compost organic waste for fertilizer. At some point I started a series here called Waste Not in order to highlight ways we could reduce our waste. Whatever happened to that?

Anyway… I’ve been thinking about what a theology of compost might mean. First of all let’s get one thing straight, compost is the best fertilizer you can possibly buy/make. Stuff happens in the dirt and muck that is not reproducible in the lab. So #1 a theology of compost is the best kind. It is natural, connected to the earth and organic. It grows out of real life and real people.

Second, compost uses waste. Nothing is too rotten for compost. In fact, the more rotten the better. That’s what compost is for. This not only means that sinners are welcome, but that our leftover theological garbage could get used in some way (how remains to be seen).

Third, compost creates a closed loop. Waste becomes fertilizer that produces food which becomes compost again. How could theology be more like that? One way might be that we always keep the history of christianity and the context of any particular event or doctrine in mind. We can reuse and recycle ideas from other contexts in our current context. However, when we make theological compost there is a complex process going on that takes the old thing and turns it into something new.

Finally, a theology of compost is very postmodern. It takes something and breaks it down (deconstruction) but it is not destructive in the way it breaks it down. In fact the deconstruction creates something at the very same moment that it is breaking something apart.

This is only the beginnings of thinking about this. What sparks your imagination? What’s your theology of compost?

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