Last year around the same time that our annual consumer frenzy was reaching a fever pitch I was wrapping up a series inspired by fellow Truett grad, preacher extraordinaire and soon-to-be published author, Kyndall Rae Rothaus, about the nature of our purchases and how they function in the consumer religion (Holy Purchases). I’ve just gone back and re-read these posts and am again struck by how enmeshed we are (I am) in this religious-economic system.
I would love to say that because I have diagnosed these things to an extent, I am somehow immune or above, but that’s always the biggest lie. That is the danger of any purity code whether it’s Leviticus or Fair Trade. You believe somehow that you are able to live up to its perfection by following the letter of that law. Jesus clearly points out that the spirit of the law is more important than the literal interpretation and strict adherence when he repeatedly breaks the ritualistic practices of sabbath-keeping. Purity codes can twist us into valuing holiness for its own sake and devaluing life and creation. We keep ourselves apart and separate so we can believe that we are different.
Maybe this is why Paul writes in Phillipians 2:3 that we are to “regard others as better than yourselves.” It’s not about demeaning ourselves, but rather humbly exalting others and placing ourselves within the greater context of all creation. We are created and loved, but not as special and unique as we would like to think. We are no better or worse than others no matter what we buy or don’t buy. By all means live faithfully and follow your convictions, but don’t believe for a second that this gives you any special status with God or anyone else for that matter. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t.
Hope everyone has a happy and blessed holiday this week. Let’s remember our native brothers and sisters this week. They have given and continue to give gifts to us, if we are open to receive them. Sometimes it looks like repentance and confession, but those are also gifts to be thankful for.
She envisions “a new economy based on smallness” made up of independent businesses and decentralized farms that work cooperatively, invest in each other, and pay attention to a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Through her work at the Social Venture Network, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies BALLE, and other organizations, she has spent decades working to realize this vision. “We’re out to create a global system of human-scale, interconnected, local, living economies that provide basic needs to all the world’s people,” she writes. “To put it simply, we believe in happiness.”
“Instead of foreigners sending us food, they should give us the chance to do our own agriculture so it can survive.” So said Rony Charles, a rice grower and member of the Agricultural Producer Cooperative of Verrettes, in Haiti.Giving domestic agriculture the chance to survive would address four critical needs:
1. Creating employment for the majority, estimated at 60% to 80% of the population;
2. Allowing rural people to stay on their land. This is both their right as well as a way to keep Port-au-Prince from becoming even more perilously overcrowded;Addressing an ongoing food crisis. Today, even with imports, more than 2.4 million people out of a population of 9 million are estimated to be food-insecure.
3. Acute malnutrition among children under the age 5 is 9%, and chronic under-nutrition for that age group is 24%. Peasant groups are convinced that, with the necessary investment, Haiti could produce at least 80% of its food consumption needs; and
4. Promoting a post-earthquake redevelopment plan that serves the needs of the majority, unlike the one currently promoted by the U.S. and U.N. which is based on the growth of sweatshops. See “Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti”.
What if you want to root out petroleum investments in your own life? Could you? Granted, your contribution may be small as ever, but divestment is picking up steam. It got name checked by the president during his now-legendary Sweaty Forehead Speech, and it’s getting attention from the mainstream media. Here’s The New York Times on Sept. 6:In the 1980s, it was South Africa. In the 1990s, it was tobacco. Now fossil fuels have become the focus of those who would change the world through the power of investing.
Marie was only 11 years old when she spoke at the “Raise the bar, Hershey!” rally in 2010. She’d seen videos of children in Ivory Coast and Ghana lugging around heavy sacks of cocoa beans and wielding machetes to open cocoa pods. She heard that these malnourished children in forced labor are often whipped or beaten. And she knew that wasn’t right.So Marie started a Fair Trade group at her middle school in San Francisco. She began telling everyone she could about the chocolate farmers who don’t earn a living wage, and the children kidnapped to work on plantations.