Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pre-1945 Pastoral Life

In the New York Times Opinion section Roy Scranton, an English professor and Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at Notre Dame, and author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization, wrote, 

"More than three-quarters of all industrial CO2 emissions have occurred since 1945, and more than half have occurred since 1988."

The question I have after reading that is what was the pastoral and church life like pre-1945?  

This was before the Eisenhower Interstate system was built and ripped apart Black communities throughout the nation. 

from Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis.

This was before the GI Bill and before the development of the suburbs.  

Park Forest, IL 1952

This was before automobiles were owned by half of Americans.  

I do not propose going back to the 1940s, we've made too much progress in racial justice, gender justice, economic justice; too many advances in science and technology and etc.  But could the model of pastoral life pre-1945 and pre-industrial CO2 emissions offer clues for the future of the practice of pastoring in America?

This type of pastoring was more neighborhood based, more local, more walkable, more public transit-able, more bikeable.  

What I'm getting at is what were the "old ways" of pastoring that we have lost?   

Wendell Berry tries to keep the old ways of farming and community.  Many pastors love Wendell Berry, myself included.  I think we all see in him a form of authenticity, but also a keeper of the old ways that we all long for.  In Look and See, a 2016 documentary of Wendell Berry we receive a glimpse of the old ways.  

I watched the film at the MSP Film Festival.  Lori and I rode our bikes downtown, took our seats, and wept as we watched.  I would like to reimagine the life giving "old ways" of pastoring in the 21st century: neighborhood based, community based, neighborly practices, communal bonds for a fractured and displaced society. 

I think local churches and local faith communities can be part of the solutions for a greener and more just future.  Part of our future is in our past, if we can recover it.  

No comments:

Post a Comment