The next Thursday session I attended began with Artful Imagining from Andrew Hendrixson, who teaches studio art at the University of Florida, as the first presenter in an excellent, varied group of three. The last presenter in the trilogy was Teri Marcos from not far away from San Diego Azusa Pacific University. In an outstanding presentation, Jesus and the Disinherited she emphasized some aspects of Howard Thurman's life and teaching. Thurman was Preacher to Boston University a while before I attended, but his name and even his presence on campus still was legendary.
In Farmer Wendell Berry's A Call to Agrarian Leadership slide presentation with commentary by Paul Kaak (also from Azusa Pacific) particularly emphasized "placed stewardship" of the church. Careful placed stewardship leads us to be concerned with where God has planted us as wherever we are, wherever the church is reminds us of what we've forgotten about the organic church and that we've forgotten and neglected it.
Paul Kaak paralleled farm with parish—after all, both concepts are geographical; he also told us Eugene Peterson (remember him? The pastor-scholar who did The Message version of the Bible) considers Wendell Berry the best pastoral theologian in the USA! Someone I knew in another life told me when he observed some people who serve in a pastoral capacity, he frequently remembered that pastoral means "rural." Moving along from C. Wright Mills Sociological Imagination to Walter Brueggemann's Prophetic Imagination... I especially love observations about agrarianism as a synoptic worldview, as comprehensive vision uniting land—agri-culture and human culture, or ways of being and acting. And oh, yes, too often the Church is all at once 1) not worldly enough; 2) too worldly and 3) needing to be whole, healthy and holy. John 17, Jesus, us and God's glory on earth, where God has "placed" us and placed, planted The Church, calling and enabling it to live as the Presence of Jesus Christ in the world.
Communications media and the individuals, communities and organizational entities of many types we observe and encounter almost daily have been returning to less toxic, simpler behaviors, as have almost all of us. In my own life it's been slow and gradual, yet I can reflect on two or three years back or more dramatically, ten or twelve years ago and even from this close a perspective I can notice small lifestyle changes that have added up to less physical and mental clutter around me and better stewardship of the places – household, neighborhood, city, county, state and world – in which I live. Paul Kaak more than suggested contemporary industrial economies were founded on "the breaking of all ten commandments" and said the economy, the household law/stewardship of the church has behaved in the same way, also violating all of the commandments. "The organized Church makes peace with a destructive economy" though how can it make peace with the "empires of illusion" scripture forbids? Ephesians 4:18-24 Wendell Berry loves the metaphor of marriage as a model for husbandry of the land - we need to get out of passive consumption modalities and being embodying, incarnating, our own "better" stories.