Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Window

I live in rural America. After our Thanksgiving feast it is often my good fortune to get to stand at the sink and wash dishes for a period of time. This holiday was no different in that regard. While I was scrubbing some pot or pan I stared out my window, across the yard, to the barren fields, to the woods on the horizon and had this thought, "You know the first Thanksgiving meal was completely organic and locally grown."

Ok, so I am a little too wired on this issue. I have heard the story of the old farmer sitting at one of the farmer meetings that are held all winter long by this or that seed company or fertilizer dealer and he says something like, "You know, when I was young all our food was "organic". You know what we had then that we don't have now? Labor!!! That was hard work and people found easier ways to live." He is right you know. Did you ever try to grow a garden? It is hard work. We have found easier ways to live.

So back to my window story. I wondered if I were a Pilgrim what would we be eating? Only what we could find out-side our window. Nuts, berries, game, were abundant then. Not so much now. I live in rural America and I would be hard pressed for food that way, much less the 98% of the country that doesn't live in rural America. What is outside their window? At best a yard. It would be a bleak Thanksgiving for everyone if we had only that for our dinner choices.

You see, as man has gone forth as he was commanded by God to do in the early chapters of Genesis, he has learned to subdue the land. He has learned ways to pull a living from the earth that is not as hard as it once was. It is still hard. The curse of sin has guaranteed that will be the case until Christ returns and reorders man's relationship with the world.

Are man's intenventions that ease this burden perfect? Absolutely not. Man is not perfect. Is the world without man's inventions perfect? No. Not as long as the curse of sin endures. Stare deeply at the natural world or just watch the National Geographic channel and you will see a world full of violence, upheaval, and uncertainty where everything is strugelling to survive. Yes, we could eat like the Pilgrim's and many of use would die from hunger. What is outside your window?  Or we can accept some of the imperfections of man's inventions that produce abundant and varied food and be thankful for the grace that made it possible.

In the land of the Pilgrim's we hear the story of learning to plant corn on top of a buried fish. This made for better corn. An invention of man that made life easier. Why? Well, the fish is high in protien. Protien is high in nitrogen. Corn needs abundant nitrogen to grow. So the rotting fish was fertilizing the corn by giving off nitrogen.

 Today we have invented nitrogen fertilizer as an easier and more accurate way of burying our fish. The plant is still getting its nitrogen. We have learned an easier way. I plant about 30,000 corn seeds per acre on some 600 acres every year. If I am to do it like the Pilgrim's, where do I get the fish? I might suggest we would need to drain the ocean through a screen each year to get enough fish. Man's invention has made it easier. It is still hard. It is not perfect. But there is abundant food while we learn to do better.

There is plenty of room for the critic to put forth his concerns. The work of man in fighting against the curse of sin can get pretty edgy and downright frightening. Every action has a reaction. The reaction is not always known immediately. Steps are taken that need to be reevaluated. But the struggle to invent and to find easier ways to pull a living from the earth must go on or we will surely die.

Thank you for your thoughts.

P.S. If you are unfamiliar with the Genesis story there are "click tab" resources on the right side of this blog that will help.

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