Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Making Peace with the Land

This week I made fresh tomato soup from tomatoes harvested from our summer garden. We ate the soup with fresh bread baked in my oven, the flour was from a local farm in NC. This morning my daughter slathered her toast with homemade strawberry jelly made by yours truly. I could go on in this fashion but I think you get the idea.

There is nothing better than to mix up a batch of whole wheat flour that was harvested about an hour from your house from a local farmer who really cares about the land. Or picking strawberries in May, almost 4 gallons of them, from a local farm and making strawberry jelly that will last us until Easter time. Or making homemade vegetable soup made from fresh vegetables harvested from your backyard.

When I saw Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba's book Making Peace with the Land: God's Call to Reconcile with Creation (IVP Press, 2012) I just knew I had to read it. Bashnson and Wirzba are professors of theology, Bahnson at Wake Forest and Wirzba at Duke but they are both tied to the land. They have a fine writing style and this book read more like a series of interlinked personal stories/memoir mixed with theology and ecology with a bit of social justice issues mixed in.

There are so many themes and variations on themes that I cannot touch upon all of them in this short review. Needless to say, one main theme that is woven from chapter to chapter is that as Christians we have focused so much on spiritually, so much on Scripture, so much on our Tradition we have forgotten that we are living on this planet, created by God and sustained by him. In many ways Christianity is still infected with a gnostic spirituality, one that separates the material and the spiritual, the hear from the head, or in this case the human from the land. We have polluted our rivers, clear cut our woods, wrecked our ecosystems, and even more destructive behaviors. But what do we read in the first book of the Old Testament, that God created the world and the mantra that is repeated again and again is "and he saw that it was good." Well, if you ask me we have forgotten that basic teaching.

Bahnson and Wirzba weave their story by drawing from personal anecdotes from their own lives, about reconciling the human with the ground. They talk about common community gardens where everyone comes and helps out to grow and harvest the vegetables or communities coming together for the common good. This book of course also includes plenty of Scriptural examples of reconciliation as well.

If you like gardening, theology, and ecology, then go out and read Making Peace with the Land!

For more information about the book click here