Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Be ye idealistic
Idealism gets a bad rap. A bunch of us well-meaning community gardeners and other such rabble were on a Presbyterian Hunger Program webinar recently, talking about the Manna Economy, and the desert experience which taught Israel how to eat. In this economy, and in stark contrast to Egypt, food is gathered locally rather than stored in huge silos, each family has what they need, no more, no less, and there is no way to exploit another by stealing their food. You can only eat what comes down from the sky each day. You get your food from the hand of God.
Beautiful stuff. But it's idealistic, so we shove it aside. No one wants to be called idealistic. A fate worse than rotten tomatoes. Pie in the sky dreamers? No thanks. We want to be realists, grounded in cruel, cold, reality, because it will make us strong and Correct.
BUT GUESS WHAT. THE BIBLE IS IDEALISTIC.
Take a look at this zinger of a passage: Deuteronomy 15
At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
I will contend that God, too, MUST be idealistic - if she's rash enough to say something like "no one should have to be poor."
Hear that? Bible says. No one should have to be poor. If you follow God's ways, even that ridiculous idea of "canceling all debt" every seven years, each of you will be protected from falling into desperation. If you eat what falls out of the sky into your outstretched hands each day, and remember the rhythms of Sabbath, you will not go hungry. If you use the land gently, remembering who your divine Landlord is, you will not face deprivation.
Be ye idealistic. Believe that God has a positive vision for this world, where no one is poor. Take part in building that world. Allow God's gentle grace in, to take the place of that cruel and cold "realism." What is really real is in God, and God is an idealist - hallelujah for that!