Bible Fundamentalists, Cosmic Nirvana Creation-Worshippers and Joel Salatin

“My Dad and Mom, ultra conservative by any standard, routinely befriended hippies and our house often had dope-smoking mother-earthers hanging around talking about compost, dome homes, and Viet Nam war atrocities. On Sunday, of course, I spent the day with straight-laced Bible fundamentalists who made jokes about hippies and those mother earthers. ” –Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin is probably my favorite living author … every time he writes something, I read it in it’s entirety – I like how his mind works, and he’s a great writer. The following is a complete reproduction of his forward to a new book by Noah Sanders, entitled “Born Again Dirt.” I hope he doesn’t mind me reproducing it here (I didn’t ask). Maybe this will help Noah sell more books, a good thing right? Thanks to my friend, Dan Grubbs, author of the blog “It’s the Soil Stupid” for alerting me to this book.

Like Joel’s family, I too have some associations and friendships with “cosmic nirvana earth worshipper types” because of my involvement with permaculture and at times I have felt like I was getting odd looks from my fundamentalist friends for doing so.  So it made me feel better to run across this piece by Joel – made me feel like maybe I’m not so crazy after all for having some of these friendships – or at least if I am crazy, I’m in good company. Enjoy!

Growing up in a conservative Christian home on our beyond organic family farm in the 1960s, I lived in two different worlds. Our church friends lived in one world, but our family farm lived in another. My Dad and Mom, ultra conservative by any standard, routinely befriended hippies and our house often had dope-smoking mother-earthers hanging around talking about compost, dome homes, and Viet Nam war atrocities.

On Sunday, of course, I spent the day with straight-laced Bible fundamentalists who made jokes about hippies and those mother earthers. When Dad made Adelle Davis’ Tiger Milk, a concoction of brewer’s yeast, honey, raw milk from our Guernsey cows, and I can’t remember what else, our church buddies called it Panther Puke. I grew up on Bible memory programs and Mother Earth News magazine.

While our church friends made jokes about environmentalists, in our house The Whole Earth Catalogue stimulated many great discussions. Our family routinely patronized the health food store when it first came to town, a place our Christian friends thought cultish. How could a Christian patronize a place that smelled like incense, sold tofu, and had Zen literature stashed about? Our Christian friends built Tyson chicken houses and confinement dairies, used pharmaceuticals indiscriminately and poured on chemical fertilizer. Even their backyard gardens received liberal (a judicious use of the word liberal, to be sure) doses of insecticide just to be safe.

The whole notion that farming and food systems could contain a moral implication couldn’t make it past the laughter and jokes about environmentalist pinko commies. Yet our family plugged on, eschewing chemicals, building compost piles, planting trees, and attending environmental farming conferences. As our farm began attracting attention, most visitors were tree-hugging cosmic nirvana creation-worshippers. We used these visits to plant seeds of Biblically-based stewardship as Creator-worshippers. That sure made for some interesting conversations.

Over the years, I’ve seen an amazing transformation in our farm visitors. Today, probably half are conservative home-schooling Christians. I believe that the home-schooling movement spawned an entire awakening to alternative ideas. Families who left the conventional institutional educational setting, who disagreed with credentialed officialdom, found their new path soul satisfying. That satisfaction led them to ask the question: “Well, I wonder what else I’ve been missing out on?”

This quest for a narrow way within a broad way cultural context led families to chiropractors (what, those quacks?), nutrition, cottage-based businesses and home-based self-reliance. The home school idea literally sprouted kitchen sprout growing, raw milk consumption, gardens, and domestic flour mills for home-baked breads.

I believe the Christian community, which should have been the repository of “fearfully and wonderfully made,” squandered this high moral ground of environmental stewardship. Today, young people like Noah Sanders are beginning to chip away at the stereotype of the creation-exploitive (just one notch below rapist) religious right. When members of the religious right espouse creation stewardship, people listen to the Biblical redemption message who would never give it a thought otherwise.

In this great introductory and thought-provoking book, Noah Sanders dares to invoke a moral dimension into vocational farming. I am thrilled to see young people like him grasp this cornerstone of Christian credibility. Bringing every life dimension captive to God’s mind has far-reaching implications in our day-to-day decisions. Thank you, Noah, for broaching this subject in this context. It’s sorely needed and should stimulate both personal soul-searching and healthy corporate discussions.

To purchase Noah’s book on Amazon click HERE.

One Response to “Bible Fundamentalists, Cosmic Nirvana Creation-Worshippers and Joel Salatin”

  1. Dan Grubbs says:

    After reading a lot of Joel Salatin and a lot of Wendell Berry and a host of others, I embarked on a journey to find out what is the Christian reponse to agriculture as the world knows it today in all its forms. Then, I ran across Noah Sanders’ book and was encouraged by what he wrote and realized that I wasn’t alone in thinking that there is a specific Christian reponse to God’s creation.

    I find myself frustrated by many true Christian’s thoughts about God’s creation and misuse of scripture to justify damage to God’s creation. I can’t say I am angry because I was guilty of much of what they are saying. But, once someone opened my eyes to reality, I felt compelled to study these issues to a greater degree, but also to try to show my brothers and sisters in Christ just what is going on and why God can’t be happy about it.

    One of my frustrations is the misunderstandings that believers have when I talk to them about stewardship of God’s creation. They immediately jump to the idea that I’m heading down some Earth worship path or animism of some kind. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I want to respond to God’s creative gift by showing Him I want to take care of it like He would — the definition of stewardship, in my opinion.

    Then we also have some in the church who are precariously dancing in a world they shouldn’t in what some call the “creation care” movement. Again, I’m not in their camp.

    The only camp I want to be in is one in which God is at the center and I’m looking for how I can be more like the Creator in all areas of my life, including farming. That’s why I found Sanders’ book so refreshing.

    It’s a fast read. It’s not high brow, but pragmatic. My pastor and I are going to use it as a discussion for a weekly meeting. I can’t wait.

    God bless.

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