By: Nicole Bauman
Being a farmer is unpredictable in ordinary times, and only made worse by the erratic weather patterns brought on by global climate change. This spring, one that was colder and wetter than “usual” (whatever that means anymore!), I found myself drawn into what can seem like the unavoidable and existential worries of a farmer, concerned about the endless unknowns that are always outside the farmer's control.
When I rose one spring morning for my daily field walk, I was devastated to see that slugs had wreaked havoc on my tomatillo and tomato plants. Yet another “failure” in a long litany of pest and soil problems on our new plot. I was ready to throw in the towel. Enough of this no-till, pesticide-free, heirloom seed-only farming!—I was ready to go out and buy some poison to take care of those slugs once and for all!
I didn't buy the poison, but these uncertainties and worries are real. I was able to reground myself, connecting to the intention of holding this latest farming endeavor as an experiment. We won't get as many tomatillos this year. But there is no such thing as failure when we experiment—only endless opportunities for learning, for readjusting, for trying again. As we explore farming without fossil fuels and with using only heirloom seeds, for example, we are called over and over again to lean into this truth.
By: Ric Hudgens
Shawn Sanford Beck’s short, suggestive essay (60 pages) on “Christian animism” is a provocative delight. I want to highlight some of his most salient points and indicate some further directions for those who want to go further.
The Rev Shawn Sanford Beck is a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. He lives with his family on an off-the-grid homestead in Saskatchewan.
Beck writes:“To say that a Christian can, and should, cultivate a relationship with the spirits of nature, the spirits of the land, is something new. What was natural and somewhat unconscious up until the end of the medieval period now requires consciousness and intentionality.”
But can’t we do that without calling it “Christian animism”? Beck argues that we need not fear animism, nor should we see the conjunction of Christian and animist as something so foreign or idiosyncratic. Christian animism according to Beck is “what happens when a committed Christian engages the world and each creature as alive, sentient, and related, rather than soul-less and ontologically inferior.”
Christian Animism seems so exotic and frankly eccentric because we have all been indoctrinated into a “cult of reductionism” that reduces the world’s wondrous multiplicity to a series of justs: just a tree, just a rock, just the earth. In my own initial writing about Christian Animism I noted how the voices of creation have been bound and gagged by modernity so that only the human voice can be heard.
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