Posted by: DCox | April 13, 2009

Agriculture as Theology … part 2

I’m trying to think through a theology of agriculture and ecology that goes beyond stewardship.

We tend to make the accepted way of doing agriculture as the “right” way. Change is difficult and often is driven my wider changes in the general culture and by capitalistic principles. If we’re (agri)cultural insiders we don’t even recognize there are other ways of doing agriculture, life, and worshipping God. We ostracize those that have more fluid boundaries – those that are able to be more open to the mysteries of life that we can’t control.

There is a connection between creation and our creatureliness. Life and death are common themes. We are born, we grow, mature, die and would rejoin the elementalness of earth if we weren’t packed in containers at our death (i.e., coffins or urns). I’m not suggesting that we are reincarnated, but our biological building blocks are recycled just as animals’ carcasses decay and build the organic matter of the soil.

wheatWe have a parallel experience in our soulish/spiritual lives – repeated life and death. We experience “deaths” in our life on earth: the loss of a loved one, disappointment, failure, a physical disability, a crisis, and aging to name a few. All of theses are small deaths in the sense that they bring us once again to the end of our self. We’ve lost control and our expectations of life aren’t met. Yet they are also opportunities for new life – a new life that results as we are transformed by the calamities of life. Of course this transformation and new life isn’t a guaranteed result. We all have seen people become stuck at one of these crossroads of life and they take on depression, addiction, or an unwillingness to bend before God. Yet we can become the grain of wheat that is planted, dies, and brings forth new life 30-, 60-, and 100-fold. Our response at least in part dictates the outcome.

baptismIn Romans 6 we read about baptism. Baptism depicts death and burial and then resurrection. We descend and then ascend. Death first and then life. And the life is one in which we are united with the Life, the Truth, and the Way. We are untied with the Son to participate in his relationship with the Father. Jesus talked of being born again and this puzzled Nicodemus. Yet isn’t this rebirth into life with the Father the only way we can find our true existence?

As we are present to the Presence … or practicing the presence of God we know life. Being present to God is knowing his approval and receiving his smile. This is the assurance that we all seek throughout life – assurance that we are delighted in unconditionally by another person. Only God can provide this peace because only He is greater than we are and always present to us. We lose this security because we don’t remain in the posture of being recipients of his grace, of his smile. Our inability to remain present to God is a result of sin and learned behavior. Our moments outside the presence of God get stitched together, accumulating to days, weeks, and years. These are moments of death and much of what we call life is so much less. Yet we need this death to catch glimpses of true life.

seasonsAnd in creation we see the cycles of death and life over and over again. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Wheat seed, tillers, and heads of wheat with seeds for the next planting season.


  1. A couple of comments. First Read at least the first book of Dune which lloks at multiple systems across a universal ecology. Some interesting concepts encapsulated in the fiction.

    I think if we get into lookng at life and death as dichotomous experiences we fall back into the dualism that you have talked about earlier. Death is a part of life, death is part of the process. If we truly enter into the Paschal Mystery, the life, death, and resurection of Jesus Christ, we see each part, as part of the whole. Taken together they form a gestalt which is greater than the sum of its parts.

    When we rely on dualistic thinking, we seperate each of the parts. We begin to think that if we seperate the parts, we can control some aspect of the process. We miss the point when we do that. There is no control, no order except God’s, God is the creator that blew his breathe across the void and brought order out of the chaos. Our attempts to bring order to chaos are our attempts to be God, the first and ultimate sin of humanity.


%d bloggers like this: