Friday, October 28, 2011

enough, already

I started this blog because of church. Ok maybe actually God. Each time I hear pastors preach, I’m not thinking about my personal salvation. I’m seeing how the Bible is code for how we’re to relate to God’s creation. So my intention is to flesh out these Sunday morning stirrings into reflections on how Christianity and environmentalism intersect. Although I feel most inadequate calling myself a CHRISTIAN, if God’s compelling me to see these connections then I’d better take notes.

For the last few weeks we’ve been focusing on these two opposing paradigms: the Myth of Scarcity and the Liturgy of Abundance. The Myth of Scarcity has us anxiously believing that there isn’t enough so we must hoard tight-fistedly to what we can snatch for ourselves. The Liturgy of Abundance proclaims God‘s provisions are sufficient and boundless if we’re willing to rely on God. Based on my WAY oversimplification, it seems like a no-brainer to chose the God of Abundance rather than live with Scarcity as one’s personal anthem. But mostly we don’t. Mostly we abide by an adherence to Scarcity rather than Abundance. Why? 

It has to do with identity. 

Although we profess we’re Christians, we operate daily out of another identity: consumer. But we cannot be both consumers and God followers because being consumers catapults us into the heart of the Scarcity Myth. If we believe we are not enough, there isn’t enough, there will never be enough, we will consume to cope with that sense of scarcity. If I identify as a consumer, I am meant to live my life consuming: experiences, feelings, ideas, technology, clothes, furniture, people, food, resources. My prime objective is to absorb and devour. Therefore I am preoccupied with obtaining and hoarding. It’s why I buy in bulk, even when my pantry is full. It’s why I have a closet full of clothes but nothing I like to wear. 

Consumption can never relieve my deep dis-ease. Only inflame it. 

Why would we ever embrace this identity particularly if its ultimate, logical end is depletion and annihilation of the earth's finite resources? We embrace it because we’ve forgotten that we are created to glorify God. We cannot at once orient our being around consumption and honor God. They have opposing trajectories. Wendell Berry articulates this so well:

"We cannot live harmlessly. To live we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such a desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness and others to want."

 Being oriented around glorifying God, I am compelled to relationship, sorely lacking in the consumerist approach. I am compelled to relationship with my self, others, God and Creation. I humble myself enough to borrow, barter and share rather than own what I rarely need (does each person on the block really need their own mower, edger, drill, etc). I explore the subtle adventure of going without what I feel compelled to want. I rely on DAILY bread not my freezer full. I cultivate contentment with just enough for my needs rather than aim for all-you-can-eat buffet satiety. And since Jesus had a knack for forging relationships with the marginalized, perhaps as God followers we ought to start attending to how marginalized peoples are devastated by American consumerism rather than consuming because frankly, we’re NOT the ones  in danger of real scarcity. But that’s another post. 

If I’m about choosing the God of Abundance instead of buying into the Scarcity Myth, then I develop eyes to see God’s persistent abundance at work in Creation. Six years ago my wonderful neighbor and I started growing vegetables in my front yard. Together amidst napping, nursing babies and entertaining toddlers, we built five raised beds, started composting, hauled mulch, attended gardening workshops, planted, watered, weeded and shared the bounty with each other, our neighbors and friends. Each time we plant seeds, it is still an astonishing miracle that they produce fruit. Truly, each time I am astonished. And we have three growing seasons in Missouri so I get to be astonished by God’s persistent abundance over and over again. It is a constant source of profound delight, gratitude and humility. 

I believe that glorifies God.