Beginning on Ash Wednesday this week, I’ll be posting daily for all of Lent commentaries on the parables told to farmers and fishers by Yeshua of Nazareth that help them survive the food and farming crisis that occurred during his era in Galilee. They are adapted from a new book of my writing released this next week by Broadleaf Books, called Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System.
My reflections on these parables will not be offered in any attempt to “convert” or to “missionize” you; in fact their messages are pretty universal: the very people who bring us our daily bread, wine and fish remain among the most marginalized on the planet, generally suffering far more food security, poverty, debt, occupational health hazards and higher suicide rates than any other professions.
We are now in entering the third worst farming crisis in a century and the worst fishing crisis of all time. And yet, we can’t completely bring the marginalized and disaffected in our food system out of harms way purely by secular, materialistic strategies for changing our food system… both capitalism and Marxism have failed most farming and fishing families over the last hundred fifty years.
What has often helped the marginalized more than anything else are efforts by faith-based communities: Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist-directed food banks, soup kitchens, food relief programs, young farmer support networks, csas, etc. To survive the current food crisis — in which 50 million Americans are facing hunger or lack of access to health food and producers are amassing more debt than ever before– we need to remember that food is more that just a commodity full of calories, it is a sacrament and access to healthy food is an essential human right.
We need to weave strands of the local food movements and faith-based food justice movements into a seamless whole rather than thinking on or the other will be sufficient in and of itself. So join me the next 40+ days for an exploration of the parable for farmers and fishers offered to us by Yeshua of Nazareth 20 centuries ago–parables that still have staying power and remarkable insights that can still guide us.