A friend from seminary recently asked for some help with theme of creation care for a sermon and the coming church year. She even said, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of you sooner.” I have spent enough time and energy in this area to develop a reputation as someone she “should have thought of sooner.”
I scoured the archives for some relevant writings to share. I was thankful to have some of my past work on this blog to point her to. Hopefully it was helpful. I realized that everything I shared with her is several years old or more. There’s nothing wrong with that. One of my good friends only reads books that are over 20 years old, because often time sifts out the junk and leaves us with those things that are worthwhile and timeless.
But it leaves me wondering what I have to say today. What is it that I want or need to write today?
This story is similar to my own journey in understand the relationship of economics to the purpose and mission of the church.
We tried to imagine an economy informed by the narratives of scripture, one bearing witness to the reign of God. It would be made of the same ingredients as the dominant economy: the same money, jobs, buying and selling goods and services. We weren’t going to try to roll back to a subsistence economy, or a household economy, or barter, or self-reliance. What was needed, we thought, was an economy not based on the goals, values and practices of this age, but one based in the life and teachings of Jesus, as revealed through scripture and the life of Christian communities through the ages.
An economy driven by such a direction seemed to be one in which all are taken care of; none acquire wealth at the expense of the others; all have what they need to live on; excessive consumption is not valued but a shared communal life is; mutual dependence is pursued; true costs are measured; all are called on to participate; we avoid categories that place some in the role of service provider and others in the role of service recipient (volunteer, minister/ministry, needy…). We assume we have all we need to take care of each other as brothers and sisters, fellow members of Christ, the living expression of the grace and provision of God.
To me, it seems that as Christians, we have a responsibility to follow Christ’s example in our lives, and this includes economics. Christianity should not be associated with the seeking of profit and property, but with radical economic community and sharing. This was the economic vision of the earliest Christians, and it should also be for us today as society becomes more consumerist and the gap between rich and poor widens.
A motley crew of Wacoans has formed a group around the idea that we should be producers and not just consumers. Many of us have read Shannon Haye’s book Radical Homemakers which inspired the formation of the group and our name. At our last meeting, after getting a lesson on making kombucha, we had an interesting discussion about what it means to us to be producers and not just consumers.
As I’ve shared before, I struggle with perfectionism. This means I have a hard time not being productive. Boredom and lack of purpose drive me crazy. So, since letting go of my small business, Edible Lawns, and my dream of the perfect job in which I change the world, become famous and magically find balance and happiness, I have struggled with finding purpose and feeling productive.
This is good, because being productive and being a producer are not the same thing. I’m not sure I fully understand the difference yet. What I know for sure is that one is life-giving and one is not. My drive for perfection and to be productive usually leaves me feeling inadequate and guilty. These are not healthy motivators. Continue reading →