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RE: [fukuoka_farming] Re: 2 Points

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  • jamie
    Hello Robert and everyone following this debate. Certainly the intellectual history of Christianity is far broader than any simple understanding of the West. I
    Message 1 of 8 , May 2, 2003
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      Hello Robert and everyone following this debate.

      Certainly the intellectual history of Christianity is far broader than any
      simple understanding of the West. I spent some years in Egypt (and a shorter
      time in greece) and became aware of the many connections (intellectual and
      commercial) between the cultures (and of martin bernal's book "Black Athena"
      that suggests that Greek culture is 'Black' in that 'Greece' was colonized
      by the Egyptians (across the centuries Egypt was ruled by many different
      peoples, some of them being sub-saharan africans ie 'Black') - such a
      connection puts our (western) Greek heritage in some doubt.

      But these are email discussions and a certain shorthand is required.
      However, i personally feel this debate is essential for a more 'open'
      understanding/appreciation of Fukuoka. It is not so much Christianity that
      is my target as a world view (weltanschauung) implicit in the West that
      tends to occlude the full possibilities and implications in Fukuoka.

      You (Robert) wrote:


      "The "I think therefore I am" idea in Western thoughtis the product of
      rationality, which rejected the mysticism of the Church, and that is
      also I think the source of the mind/body dualism, which I don't find at
      all in the Bible, or the writings of the early church theologians, or in
      the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am not responsible for
      everything that has been said by a Christian on the subject, but those
      who have made a sharp distinction between the body and the spirit are
      not doing Catholic theology."



      I'm glad you mentioned Descartes as not only is it he who more than any
      other ushered in the modern, rational era of western mankind (sex specific
      noun intentional) but in Descartes you also hear the echo of the dualism I
      have been alluding to in Christianity.

      But curiously for Descartes, if not for later proponents of his deductive
      thinking and the later inductive thinkers of modern science, this seemingly
      egocentric pronouncement of veractiy in the world is not anchored to mankind
      alone. When Descartes locked himself up for 3 days he did so to come to
      understand what it was that he could understand most 'clearly and
      distinctly' ie of what he was in least doubt about. But his evidence for the
      underlying truth of his argument (the 'I think therefore i am' argument) was
      that a loving God would not let mankind be deceived.

      Therefore, the 'rational' is underwritten by a creator God, whether the
      enlightenment or modern (or even post-modern) thinkers accept, understand,
      or believe that. My point is that only creator God's (Judaeism, Christianity
      and Islam) can underwrite the 'rational' world of the West. Whether it is
      'God the creator' or 'Man the creator', the essential point is that a
      creator is a subject that has a priveleged position in relation to objects
      (or mind to matter, or mankind to nature, or man to woman).

      However, Christianity is not monolithic but contains myriad threads within
      it. From Robert's previous emails, I suspect that he and I are not
      diametrically opposed (and anyway such a dichotomy would be to 'create' yet
      another dualism we can well do without).

      But there is a dualistic thread within Christianity (I would suggest the
      early Church's confrontation with Gnosticism is more evidence of the
      dualistic tendency, as would be the neo-platonism of Plotinus and even
      Aquinas' attempt to incorporate Aristotle into Christianity) - but in its
      quietism/mysticism (Meister Eckhardt would be an example) it is as close to
      the 'the way' of Fukuoka as anything.

      To reiterate my point: It is not important whether or not you are a
      Christian but how you receive (as opposed to confront) thought which
      challenges preconceptions.

      Jamie
      Souscayrous




      -----Original Message-----
      From: robert waldrop [mailto:rmwj@...]
      Sent: Friday, May 02, 2003 3:13 AM
      To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: 2 Points


      Well, let's see if I can get to the root of this problem without kicking
      over an ant hill.

      I think the first thing is that I do not equate Christianity with the
      West. Christianity began in a land which is a bridge between Asia and
      Europe, and flourished in the East for hundreds of years before falling
      before Islam. Yes there was a lot of Greco Roman thought and Jewish
      theology, but there was also the wisdom of ancient Egypt, Syria,
      Chaldea, Armenia, etc. in the melting pot.

      This is why your comment in another email:

      "Openness, receptivity, egoless observation (meditation), harkening (not
      looking/searching for) to nature (that which is other) and giving it a
      place to abide within ourselves, is the best way I know for coming to
      terms with much that is difficult or just plain different in Fukuoka."

      sounds very Christian to me.

      The "I think therefore I am" idea in Western thoughtis the product of
      rationality, which rejected the mysticism of the Church, and that is
      also I think the source of the mind/body dualism, which I don't find at
      all in the Bible, or the writings of the early church theologians, or in
      the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church. I am not responsible for
      everything that has been said by a Christian on the subject, but those
      who have made a sharp distinction between the body and the spirit are
      not doing Catholic theology.

      As to how this fits with natural farming, I see humanity's role in the
      ecology of this planet is to be stewards not dominators. Like plants, we
      have a need to put down roots. The longer I live at this little place
      in the midst of a city, the more I belong here, the more I know this
      place.

      Even with four years of observation of my own little land, I am still
      learning new things, in part because whether I want to or not, I am
      impacting this land. I am trying to make that impact be intelligent,
      and as often as not to impact by doing nothing rather than doing
      something.

      When I do "do something" I try to work with nature, not against it. And
      most of the "doing" has involved "undoing" the dominator style landscape
      that had been maintained here lo these many years, and then bringing
      together seeds, cuttings, and plants and then observing how they grow
      together.

      I picked the first two strawberries of the season today, they were so
      tempting I just ate them right on the spot, and they were so good.
      perfect ripeness, beautiful color, so sweet but not sickening sweet like
      a Coca Cola soft drink. To find them I had to reach down into a dense
      thicket of flowering vetch, crimson clover, multiplying onions,
      elderberries, dandelions, and strawberry plants surrounded by logs.
      This year all I've had to do with that little patch is pull a little
      bermuda grass from the edges. (I was recently given a digital camera,
      and as soon as I figure out how to download the images to my computer,
      hehehe, I'll have some more pictures to show.)

      I believe all things were created by God, and that includes me, and that
      all of Creation shares with God the ongoing joy of being actively
      involved as integral parts of Creation. All things are truly connected.
      and part of our divinization is to be co Creators with God. If we
      abandon this to become dominators, we feed the culture of death.

      God is as real as I am, I am as real as God is. We eat his flesh and
      drink his blood as part of our liturgy. And as they say, "you are what
      you eat." This is the mystical aspect, and it is only the barest
      skimming of the surface. Within Christianity there are a number of
      spiritual paths, my own is generally referred to as "contemplative in
      action", which seeks to inform ones daily life in the world with the
      deepest contemplative mysteries, and I use a variety of meditation
      practices and disciplines to develop this and make it real in my daily
      life. Many centuries ago there was a monk, Brother Lawrence, who was
      dishwasher in a monastery. Even so he wrote a little book, and
      explained how by practicing the presence of God he was as close to God
      when washing dishes in the kitchen as he was during High Mass at the
      Cathedral.

      Besides mysticism, there is also an aspect of social theology, as I see
      natural farming as also being a reflection of the Catholic Church's
      teachings on social issues, which have generally been more explicitly
      developed over the last 120 years or so, Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII
      in the 1890s is considered to be the first of a long line of papal
      encyclicals dedicated to social issues.

      Among many things that could be cited about this teaching, the Church
      says that rural communities are important, and as someone who was raised
      on a farm, and has watched the rural community he was born into wither
      over the last 50 years, it is clear to me that farming methods in this
      country must change. Conventional farms in the US are factories, not
      ecosystems. Inputs are hauled in and products are hauled out.

      As a lay Catholic, it is my special calling to take these teachings and
      apply them to concrete situations, and it is obvious to me that natural
      farming is one way to do this.

      I really hope this is helpful.

      Robert Waldrop, OKc

      jamie wrote:
      >
      > Hello Robert, I respect your devotion and your ministry in OKC, I've been
      > following your progress since stumbling upon your BetterTimes ezine a
      couple
      > of years ago - I appreciate the regular updates you send to the group.
      >
      > I know you're a busy man but perhaps it would be useful to the group to
      hear
      > a more detailed account of your Christian understanding of Fukuoka and NF.
      I
      > find I'm far too often muttering negatively about dualism and the failure
      of
      > the West...etc etc ad infinitum. I'd certainly appreciate the opportunity
      of
      > constructing a positive dialogue to draw out the connections between
      Fukuoka
      > and Christianity which I'm sure exist but that I don't have the necessary
      > experience/insight to have drawn for myself.
      >
      > Jamie
      > Souscayrous
      >



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