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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key" by Larry L. Rasmussen

     Just finished reading "Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key" by Larry L. Rasmussen.  I know I will be returning to this book often in the next couple of years.  It was somewhat overwhelming, because it really illuminated the path we are on, as human beings, toward our own destruction, but also put so much stock in faith as a key component in the changes we must make to survive and thrive and ensure that life of all kinds also thrives.
     He starts with a series of "hockey-stick graphs" that show how CO2 is rising at unprecedented levels and how this is causing a ton of other "hockey-stick graphs" regarding the acceleration of extinctions, floods, consumption, water use, ozone depletion, erosion, and many other factors.  The visual of all these graphs shows just how extreme conditions are becoming and are meant to wake us up that we can't keep going in the direction we're going.
      I actually felt flattered that the author would put so much faith in faith traditions to help us change our trajectory toward our own destruction.  Especially in light of all the negative associations people have with communities of faith and faith traditions.  Of course the author is a man of faith and a professor emeritus at a religious seminary.  However, he made a great case for why faith traditions and communities are good places to help us move forward.
      The author wrote about faith communities being grounded in tradition and history that helped them see a bigger picture.  He pointed out scriptures from all faith traditions about God's presence in and through the world we live in.  He seemed to think that faith communities already know how to envision a better future and work toward it together, because we have tools to build community and work together. 
      He was also honest about the downside of faith.  We can easily use our faith to try to stay comfortable and never change. 
      The author specifically mentioned some aspects of faith tradition that can help us move forward.  These include asceticism, which means respectful use of material possessions, a sense of the sacred, mystical experience that takes us beyond ourselves into a comprehensive oneness with God, each other, and the world, liberation theology and its focus on justice and shared power, and Sophia Wisdom that is present in scripture long before any human being entered the picture and that orders the universe and calls us to responsibility.
     This was a very moving book, and I look forward to looking through it again soon for ideas and inspiration.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

"Gardening when it counts: Growing food in hard times"

   Over the past two weeks, I have been reading "Gardening when it counts: Growing food in hard times" by Steve Solomon.  I wanted to read this book because I am convinced that climate change is going to make it harder to grow a home garden, but also more necessary to do so.  I also learned some helpful tips for starting a garden at the church if we decide to do so.  This book was full of interesting, helpful information.  I hope to implement what I've learned in the coming years.

   The author lived and grew a garden in Oregon for many years, so much of his experience is applicable to my garden.  He wrote about soils, nutrients, composting, and a recipe for his favorite fertilizer.  He wrote about plant placement, root systems, cover crops, and watering.  I am probably overwatering.  If we come to a time when we need to conserve water more, it will be important to space plants far apart.  I learned about diseases and pests.  And there was a whole chapter devoted to each kind of plant, individually.

   I realized that we might not need to put up raised beds at the church.  The author prefers mounds because then the gardener can hoe out any rocks or dirt clods.  Spaces could me marked off with string attached to little posts.  That would save a lot of money and work on community garden spaces.

This book is full of detailed information.  As a result of what I have been reading, I have already reduced my watering and pulled up several volunteer tomato plants from the garden.  There just isn't space for those plants to take moisture and nutrients from my healthy strong plants that have already set tomatoes on the vine.  I am excited to try some of the author's techniques at home and hopefully at church, if the congregation is interesting in being a garden site.