Compost

It’s Fall.  Time to start a new compost pile.

I start one each Fall, then add to it until the following Fall.  The pile that I’ll now stop adding to, will continue to cook through the Fall and Winter, and in the late Winter/early Spring I’ll spread it on the gardens.

So the process of creating the fertilizer takes time.  It also takes work.  It would certainly be a lot easier just to buy a few bags of fertilizer at the feed store.  But the process of creating that fertilizer is unnatural and unsustainable.  It also doesn’t deliver the full range of nutrients that natural compost does.

So I’ll continue to do it this way as long as I’m able.  And hopefully one of the things Fall will continue to mean to me, is that it’s time to start a new compost pile.

Love  Wins

Hierarchy

Following up on my post about The Shack, I mentioned that the author presents God challenging hierarchy and coercion.  That is a wonderful thing to do, given that religion is built upon hierarchy and coercion.  Like God as presented in The Shack, I am no fan of religion.

I know most of y’all have probably read this book, and if you haven’t I strongly encourage you to do so, but given that the story puts a focus on the question of evil and justice, it might be easy to overlook some of what is said about hierarchy and coercion.   I recommend re-reading the chapter titled “Breakfast of Champions.”  In that chapter Mack is having a conversation with Papa,  Jesus and Sarayu.  Here’s an excerpt:

“I have always thought of God the Father as sort of being the boss and Jesus as the one following orders, you know, being obedient.  I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit fits in exactly.  He…I mean she…uh….I’m talking about who’s in charge. Don’t you have a chain of command?”

“Chain of command? That sounds ghastly!” Jesus said. 

“At least binding,” Papa added as they both started laughing, and then Papa turned to Mack and sang,”Though chains be of gold, they are chains all the same.” [quoting Bruce Cockburn, btw]

“Now don’t concern yourself with those two,” Sarayu interrupted, reaching out to comfort and calm him. “They’re just playing with you. This is actually a subject of interest among us.”

Mack nodded, relieved and a little chagrined that he had again allowed himself to lose his composure.

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it. What you are seeing here is a relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually, this is your problem, not ours.”

“Really? How so?”

“Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could work together without someone being in charge.”

“But every human institution that I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of thinking; it is the web of our social fabric,” Mack asserted.

“Such a waste!” said Papa, picking up the empty dish and heading for the kitchen.

“It’s one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you,” Jesus added. “Once you have a hierarchy  you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you….When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other.  Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want.”

“…Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired.  In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social or religious–any system actually.  First one person, and then a few, and finally many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system.  In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship.  The ‘will to power and independence’ has become so ubiquitous tht it is now considered normal.”

“It’s not?”

“It is the human paradigm,” added Papa, having returned with more food.  “It is like water to fish, so prevalent that it goes unseen and unquestioned.  It is the matrix; a diabolical scheme in which you are hopelessly trapped even while completely unaware of its existence.”

Jesus picked up the conversation.  “As the crowing glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as signficant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.”

Mack sat back in his chair, staggered by the implications of what he was hearing.  “So you are telling me that whenever we humans protect ourselves with power…”

“You are yielding to the matrix, not to us,” finished Jesus.

“And now,” Sarayu interjected, “we have come full circle, back to one of my initial statements:  You humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that relationship could exist outside of heirarchy.  So you think that God must exist inside a hierarchy like you do.  But we do not.”

“Mack,” said Papa with an intensity that caused him to listen very carefully, “we want to share with you the love and joy and freedom and light that we already know within ourself.  We created you, the human, to be in face-to-face relationship with us, to join our circle of love….I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way.  I am good, and I desire only what is best for you.  You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation or coercion, only through a relationship of love.  And I do love you.”

And, as we all know…

Love Wins

 

The Shack

Beginning to think I was the last person in the country who hadn’t read this book, and having had a whole bunch of people recommend it me, I finally broke down and read it.

I have to confess that this book is so popular that I didn’t expect to like it.  I confess that I assumed it could only be this popular if it was as trite and theologically dubious as the Left Behind series.

Was I ever wrong.

The Shack is a very powerful and very profound book.  It manages to weave into a compelling story the most complex and difficult issues in theology.  I assume even a reader of this blog who hasn’t yet read the book will know that it deals with the Problem of Evil.  Boy does it ever.  And if the reader gets nothing out of this book other than a fair understanding of that devilish issue, that will be plenty.  But the book also takes on things such as forgiveness, atonement, the institution of the church and religion, and the nature of God’s love.  And it does so through dialogue and a story that don’t make it essential that the reader pause and wrestle with those issues.  That depends upon the reader.  As Papa asks Mack, “How deep do you want to go?”  So for any who haven’t read this yet, don’t be dissuaded by the idea that you’ll find yourself stuck in some theological treatise.  Part of the genuis of this book is that that doesn’t happen. 

Among all the challenging theological issues that surface it this book, perhaps most memorable is its treatment of the nature of the Trinity.  Mr. Young personifies the Trinity in a way that makes it unforgettable and convincing, but also explaining the essential necessity of a Trinitarian God.  I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough.  

And oh, by the way, if you don’t know anything about Christian theology, and even if you couldn’t care less about it, you will enjoy the book.  I am sure of that.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see Jacques Ellul quoted in this book, and even credited in the Acknowledgement.   Mr. Young is involved in the house church movement, and there is a subtle but persistent theme of Christian anarchy in the book.  And it is a runaway bestseller in the Christian world.  How cool is that?

Love Wins 

Dentistry

I wish I could have gotten a closer shot of this, but I had to snap this quickly.  The kid in the red shirt is sticking a wire into the mouth of the kid with no shirt. 

Haiti has one dentist per every 100,000 people.  I doubt Ouanaminthe has any.  Unless you count the kid in the red shirt.

When the clinic at Danita’s Children is finished, it will include a pediatric dental clinic, and hopefully put the boy in the red shirt out of the dentist business.

Love Wins

Listen

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
       he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 21:13

Love Wins

Contentment

We live in a culture that thrives on discontentment.  We are bombarded with advertising designed to make us discontent with what we own.  We are conditioned to be greedy, envious, and perpetually dissatisfied.  In such a condition, we can never be happy.  Because a person cannot really be happy, unless the person is content.

Of course, should widespread contentment break out, our economy would collapse.  In a society like ours, where all true basic needs are met many times over, only discontent can fuel the continued overconsumption necessary to keep the wheels of the phony economy turning.  But ironically, if that is the right word, while a contentment epidemic would destroy the materialistic consumer economy, the now-content population wouldn’t care.  Because they would be content.

2600 years ago, Lao Tzu wrote, “Be content with what you have.  Rejoice in the way things are.”

600 years later the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have.”

Still seems like good advice to me…

Love Wins

Ethos?

 

I try to avoid Starbucks, but recently I was driving to Orlando, woefully undercaffeinated.  Now that Starbucks franchises are springing up along the interstate like Waffle Houses, it didn’t take me long to spot one.  In need of caffeine, I compromised on my values a bit, and pulled in.

Waiting in line, I noticed a big container full of bottled water.  No surprise there, given the American propensity to waste billions of dollars on bottles of tap water, while much of the world goes without clean water.  But this particular display really leaped out at me.  According to the sign above this pile of bottles, this water is somehow “helping children get clean water.”  The ad went on to say that millions of children have gotten clean water, thanks somehow to these bottles.

It’s a familiar form of greenwashing of course.  In this case, the unwitting consumer pays Starbucks $1.80 for a bottle of tap water, and Starbucks sends a nickel to a water charity.  Starbucks pockets the profits.

It really hacked me off.  The notion that buying bottled water helps the world water crisis is offensive enough, but using that lie as a marketing gimmick is unconscionable. 

In fact, “Ethos” is owned by Starbucks and bottled by Pepsico.  Starbucks makes millions overcharging for water while giving the impression that buying it is somehow an act of charity.

What a crock.  Grrr…..

Love Wins