Thanksgiving Lessons

27 11 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This week’s Question of the Week is:

What lessons can we learn from Thanksgiving history?

I’m thinking mainly about Pilgrims, but certainly this could include lessons from your own personal history as well!


Where Do We Begin?

18 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is Where Do We Begin?

Tony Woodliff at World Magazine recently wrote about “rediscovering his inner farmer“:

Maybe it’s just insecurity stemming from the current economic meltdown, or perhaps a latent agrarianism, but I find myself looking at our land and wondering how we might pull food from it. I never learned much about farming, I don’t know the first thing about hunting, and I’m a pretty poor fisherman. I think I’d like to get better at all of them. I suppose there are many reasons: doing my part to squeeze oil out of the food chain, drawing close to creation, improving our diets, doing good work with my sons, acquiring and passing along what one day may once again become survival skills. I’m haunted as well by something Berry wrote in one of his Home Economics essays, that you are free to the extent that you can provide for yourself. If you have to hand over money to people to do even the most basic things for you, then you are ultimately dependent.

So this winter I’ll be talking to local farmers and reading some gardening books and possibly learning how to use a bow. It promises to be a glorious disaster, and I’ll be lucky to emerge next fall with all my fingers and toes intact. But I’m increasingly convinced that it’s just as important to teach my sons these things as to teach them how to read well, how to use logic, how to see the world. I suppose in that I’m just rediscovering what our forbears knew, that a life of work in creation should not be separated from a life of the mind.

Perhaps you have someone like Tony in your church or community, who is beginning to sense the reality of the vulnerable position that the modern specialized man is in. And for every person like Tony, there’s probably a dozen people that are completely oblivious to the danger ahead.

There seem to be a lot of contradictory ideas being held. Corporately, we generally admit dire economic times overall, but we continue to presume that we’ll continue to not only remain employed but that our pay will increase as it always has. We talk about the “housing” debacle, but the majority of us still think that the value of our own home has stayed the same or increased. It is known as “risky behavior”. We Christians find it easy to condemn sexual promiscuity but exhibit the same tendencies when it comes to our finances, racking up debt and doubling down in tough times.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m wagging a finger, because I’m just as guilty as anyone else. And rather than point out examples of ways we’re failing, I’m hoping to find ways to help.

So with all that as a prelude: Where Do We Begin?

Are You Preparing To Feed Others?

11 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

Are you preparing to feed others?

Some time ago I read George Grant’s book called Bringing In The Sheaves: Replacing Government Welfare with Biblical Charity. It contains a number of helpful ideas. He pointed out that, to our shame, some non-Christian groups like the Mormons have a much more comprehensive plan for feeding their own than we do. Mormon families are taught to store food, and so if they should happen to lose their job they often still have enough food for a year and don’t need to go begging. Most Christians, however, live paycheck to paycheck and so when a small church has one or more members that lose their job it becomes a major issue right away.

While not wanting to get carried away or losing focus, I’ve been wondering about whether the diaconal ministry should include teaching and challenging families to recover the lost arts of food storage. To many moderns the very idea sounds a bit crazy and reactionary, but to past generations it was just common sense and the way you made it through winters and lean years. If all the members of the church were in the habit of storing food, then even if everyone in the church lost their job, they could still feed their own families, as well as their elders, their widows, and their orphans. And thinking outwardly, it seems like if the members of our churches each had a one-year supply of basic food items (as well as the know-how to produce food, another lost art), then it would be in a great position as far as being able to help those in need that came along.

It seems like extra cash is often hard to come by for many people. But – if we had plenty of food in our pantries, we could at least very easily offer food to those in need (in exchange for work). I know some people may already do this, but in the churches I’ve been a part of this has never been identified as something that would be good for everybody to do as a covenantal strategy for feeding the poor.

What do you think? Are you (or perhaps your church) involved in anything like this?

How Are You Preparing For Winter?

4 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

How are you preparing for winter?

(Make sure you review Boyd’s post on Keeping Warm.)

How To Prepare For “Unemployment”?

28 10 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

The “real” rate of unemployment in America is around 15%. Based on the current economic climate, that’s likely to increase. Even in good times, people find themselves out of work from time to time. How do we prepare for that, both as individuals needing to provide for our own families, and as churches that want to help others provide for their families?

What Do We Need To Prepare For?

20 10 2008

The first Question of the Week is:

What are some of the contingencies (catastrophes, disasters, emergencies) that we need to be prepared for, and what are some ways that we can prepare for them?

These could be on a personal, family, societal, or church level. Let’s think about them all.

Feel free to share examples and concerns, or just ask questions. Through collaboration we can learn from others, and teach others what we have learned.

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