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.
I really like the ethos of communities like the author is apart of. I do think that living the Jesus way is more than a redistribution of resources in a more caring way, or avoiding an acquisitional lifestyle. When Jesus tells us that he has come so that we might have life and have it more abundantly, I believe that this is a mission statement that applies to his followers; that it is a mission that encompasses all of creation. So from the limited description the author gave, it sounds like his community is on the right track but that they need to enlarge their circle to consider the well-being of the environment in which they live and interact. Do they consider the cost of using fossil fuels? Is there habitat for the wild life? How do they make use, how are they grateful for how God provides through wildlife? How much is thrown away?
Good questions Maria. Since I know a little about the community the author is a part of I can say that they do consider those things. This was a slice (though a pretty big one) of what they are up to. Last year they won a pretty large grant to create some community gardens and space in their neighborhood.
That’s fabulous! What do they do about gardening the wilderness or wildness? I’ve been really convicted by _Bringing_Nature_Home_ and by the question of why should I ask God to provide money to buy food (or other things) at the store when he has already provided so much food in the form of weeds/wild foods or resources that I could turn into what I wanted if I just took a little time and used a little creativity. I’m finding I don’t have the time to make use (or be responsible for) all I have.
I’m not sure what this particular community does in terms of wild foraging. I am very interested in permaculture and urban foraging. As you say though, it does take a lot of time and work. I’ve been trying to get a good foraging map for my area for some years and still only have a few spots in town on the map. We are so far removed from the kind of world where foraging was so much more practical and a part of everyday life that it can be more work to try and get back there. I could go on, but thanks for your thoughts.