Inside Flourish

August 31, 2009


By Rusty Pritchard, Editor in Chief

Published in the Summer 2009 issue of Flourish magazine

rustypritchardLast week, I experienced the jarring juxtaposition of those fighting a culture war and those commited to changing culture by creating culture. I participated in back-to-back conferences, one in Austin, Texas (motto: “keep Austin weird”) and one in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the former home of Heritage, USA. The diversity within each crowd was greater than the differences between them. In both settings, I encountered some Christians intent on seizing the reins of power to institute Christian principles, and other Christians committed to laying down power, to giving up privilege, for the sake of loving their neighbors. People of faith are involved in an astonishing variety of ministries and cultural projects.

At both conferences, I heard from the most unexpected places of the importance of caring for creation, of the need to live out the reconciliation of “all things”: reconciliation with God, with neighbor, with ourselves, and with the rest of creation. Where I expected resistance to concern for the environment, I found people who had already outpaced me in the declaration of a big gospel.

A message that resonated in both settings: Sabbath-keeping as a spiritual and environmental practice. Ragan Sutterfield, farmer and writer, lays out his vision for the virtue of “idleness” in this issue. Far from claiming that idle hands are the devil’s playground, Ragan believes that keeping the Sabbath is a profound act of resistance to the empire of utilitarianism and commercialism. Similarly, in both conferences, participants realized the need to find ways to “seek the peace (shalom) of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7) where they find themselves, a principle examined in depth in this issue by Leroy Barber, in his work to “green the hood”; by Melanie Griffin, longtime Sierra Club leader and now church farm advocate; and Jonathan Merritt, who tells of the redemptive work of Genesis Church in the Denver metro area.

Next issue: We look at the business side of microlending for sustainability in the developing world, we examine the role of hunters and anglers in conservation and sportsman’s ministries, and we lay out the “green-versus-efficient” controversies between architects and engineers in designing LEED-certified buildings. Also: Get ready for the campaign to celebrate creation at Thanksgiving, and to combat consumerism on the Day After Thanksgiving!

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