Thoughts from Fr. Marshall - All Saints Episcopal Church
 
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So, we started to thrive when we discovered the division of labor. One person, very good at something produces more than she or he needs for her or his family and they sell the excess or barter it for something else they need.

We create a system of exchange and economies other than nature's economy come into being. Currency is invented and one thing leads to another and soon we have global economies.

I think this is very exciting. I grew up on a farm. I know how labor intensive things were in past generations. I love to garden and I like preserving as much of my own food as I can. I am very interested in hand made and home made things, but I am also very glad that I can go to the store and buy what I cannot or do not wish to produce for myself. I exchange my services, my talents, my work for money which allows me to purchase what I cannot or do not wish to produce for myself.

Excellent!

The problem comes in when the ones producing what I wish to purchase fail to guard the quality of their product or they produce it or process it or add to it or transport and market it in ways that offend my pallet or sensitivities or damage the ecosystem we all share.

When economies grow so large and begin to be concentrated in the hands of huge corporations who destroy local production and sacrifice quality for a kind of highly manipulated chemical dependent agricultural mass production, we have a frightening situation in which we are cut off from the source of our food often by thousands of miles.

We have been sold a bill of goods. We became a fairly mindless consumer society based on the promises made to us in advertisements that General Mills and Nabisco and Wonder Bread (enriched in twelve ways) could and were doing it better for us than our local baker or our grandmother and they could do it cheap too and save us the intense labor.

While the price of our food remains relatively low compared to other societies (a smaller percentage of our earnings spent on it) we have been promised much and receive less and less in quantity and in quality.

It is past time for us to demand the availability of more seasonal, less processed and more nutritious LOCAL food. Our health, on many levels, depends upon it.

Now, for the switch on my part. The church has done this bait and switch on us as well. This is why while I deeply and profoundly love the catholic christian tradition and believe that it is rich and deep with information that points us to a direct experience of the living God who's Grace is always already being poured out all around us at all times and in all places, I also have a very protestant sense of the necessity, nay, the moral obligation, to always question authority.

The clerical establishment comes into existence in the early church in order to allow some people to preach and teach and serve in special ways for the promotion of the kingdom. They have perhaps greater time for study and writing and for preaching and teaching and they can support us in our growth and in our spiritual development. Jesus had already established a sacramental life for his church and we allowed this clerical establishment to carry responsibility for taking it forward.

While this sacramental life has been enriched and developed and has many treasures to share with us it has also in local practice, often been reduced and treated as a collection of  commodities to be controlled and distributed by the clerical establishment in ways that help them to perpetuate their own dominion over the faithful and to enrich themselves in very venial ways.

The true nurture is sometimes hard to find in the life of many clerically dominated establishments and in many cases true perversity and abuse have been put in the place of spiritual encouragement and support. The nurture has been processed out of the "product'.

It is time for the reformation of both our physical and spiritual food sources as we move forward. We should be loving and patient but relentless in demanding this reform. To say yes and mean yes is necessary but to say no and mean no is equally important. We must question and demand clarity and honesty from our leadership at all levels and we must be sure that we act in our individual lives in the very same way we expect our leaders to act and live.

In this complex world the stakes keep getting higher and higher. It is clear that the way we have been doing business is not serving. How far back we must go before we are able to move forward is not clear. Systems ultimately devolve to the last place in themselves that is in integrity. That place is the place at which we must meet no matter how painful it may seem.

It will actually be very exciting to build from that place. May it be said that our generation has learned its lessons and will leave the food supply better than we found it.

Love and light,

Lewis Marshall

Debby Ward
3/12/2011 07:04:25 pm

When I scanned and saw the word "barter," I had to read this. "Barter" is a word I taught this week along with how coins and paper money are made. Goods and services were topics discussed between my 6/7 year olds and I. These are the same 6/7 year olds with BMIs that are way too high. Your comments hit home with me.

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Lewis Marshall
3/12/2011 08:23:12 pm

My BMI is, of course, way to high too. With politics and religion the metaphor of food is a good one I think.

Are we being nourished on the gross level in our own bodies, as the body of society or community on the physical or the spiritual level?

Of course, they are all deeply related, I believe we manifest our deepest desires on all levels or in all of our bodies. To work on one is to work on all.

Thanks for reading Debby!

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