The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries
Destruction and Transformation
"The status quo is not to be criticized; it is to be destroyed."
Those revolutionary words ring true for me, especially in light of some of Eco-Justice Ministries' programs this fall.
I should explain that the incendiary quote above is from a preacher and theologian, not a violent terrorist. The larger context of the words from Peter J. Gomes, reads: "Good news to some will almost inevitably be bad news to others. ... When Jesus came preaching, it was to proclaim the end of things as they are and the breaking in of things that are to be: the status quo is not to be criticized; it is to be destroyed."
I love the decisive phrasing of Gomes' final phrases, but they might be re-cast to make them more accessible.
It is not enough to criticize the status quo, to modify it, tweak it, temper it, or adjust it. The status quo must be destroyed, replaced, or transformed.
As pastor Robin Meyers put it, the Spirit of God "awakens us to the simple but unbearable fact that the world as it is cannot possibly be the world that God intended." Meyers calls the Christian church to that work of transformation in his challenging new book, Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance. Toward the end of the book, he writes, "So let me say it this way: If the Body of Christ has become just one more peculiar gathering of the loyal subjects of empire, singing and praying for the success of the empire, then we have no Good News to offer, just religious propaganda."
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I'm tuned to this proclamation of destruction and transformation because of many programs and projects of Eco-Justice Ministries this fall.
This fall, as always, Eco-Justice Ministries has been preaching and teaching about the Good News of a just and sustainable world. That calls for acknowledging the deep crises around us, and lifting up the hopeful vision that a dramatically different way of being is both possible and desirable. Yes, we've been about destruction and transformation.
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A big challenge in acts of transformation and resistance is sorting out where the status quo has to be destroyed, replaced with something new, and where "the way things are" embodies good and worthwhile practices. Because the real calling is not just to destroy; it is participate in the "breaking in of things that are to be," and that often will include reinforcing the best of what is around us.
Today is World Food Day. So it is appropriate to highlight an example of destroying and transforming the status quo from the realm of agriculture.
A few weeks ago, I was given a copy of a brand-new magazine, Local Food Shift. The cover story of the first issue is "The Hub of the Revolution". The revolution has to do with the emergence of "food hubs" which provide locally-grown food to local sources in ways that are more organized than farmers' markets. "Perhaps the local food revolution in Colorado will one day revolve around dozens of hubs ... all of them working cooperatively to bolster the health of the soil, to steward water resources and strengthen communities, and to provide all citizens access to healthful, affordable food."
A companion article, "Toward a Local Food Revolution", asserts, "There comes a time for declaring that all this is unacceptable, a time for determining to withdraw from the current food system and to build something new to regain our food security and food sovereignty. There comes a time for our people to become self-reliant, to meet our own essential needs locally, beginning with food. That time is now."
Destroying the status quo of industrial agriculture is an act of creativity and a labor of love that will take place in community after community. It is one example of how we can do far more that critique and tweak systems of exploitation and destruction. It is one example of how we -- in our communities and congregations -- can participate in the in-breaking of God's justice.
As Peter Gomes said, "Good news to some will almost inevitably be bad news to others." Our calling is not to be nice and non-controversial. Our calling is to proclaim and embody Good News.
May we be bold in that faithful work of creative destruction and joyous transformation.
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org * E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org