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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

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Future Generations
by The Rev Thomas Harries

Last week I attended the quarterly meeting of the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Diocese in Tower. It was wonderful to be out in the woods, right on the river, watching fresh new snow fall outside the windows. When I'm not there for a while, I forget how much the great outdoors feeds my spirit. I'm going to have to make more of an effort to get out this winter and spring.

Then just yesterday I was reading a big article in the Atlantic Monthly about the threats to our global environment. It was written in response to an earlier article suggesting the threat was not so serious, and that progress and technology would be able to eliminate the current problems. There are some who argue that side, and it's very attractive because it justifies continuing as we are rather than making any significant changes. Unfortunately, the majority of scientists think the threats are both very real and unlikely to be eliminated by any foreseeable technological advances.

You've probably heard the scary statistics before, so I won't bore you with them here. The real question is, what can we, should we, must we do? Many of us, I suspect, faithfully sort our recyclables and think we are doing our part. But we need way more than that way more.

What we need, it seems to me, is a radical re-definition of the good life we pursue. We need to take seriously, and on a very large scale, the Christian notion of sharing what we have with those in need. And, here's the hard part: we need to share not just from our leftovers, but from our plates. It is utterly impossible for everyone in the world to consume material goods and natural resources at the rate we Americans do. Therefore, if everyone is going to have the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and health care, we will have to give up some things.

In one sense, this is actually good news. For not only does the Gospel admonish us not to get attached to worldly treasures, but studies have shown that ballooning material wealth in the last few decades has not led to greater happiness. Nevertheless, we are flogged daily with the idea that purchasing and consuming are routes to happiness.

I think we need to get to the point where the most valued activity is not shopping, but serving. Now where have I heard something like that before? We all know at one level that the greatest joy in life is bringing joy to others. But do we really act on that vision? Are we wise in our choices of how to bring happiness, or do we fall back on those easiest but least effective devices money or things?

If you treasure your children and grandchildren, I urge you to put environmental concerns high on your list for charitable contributions, and to examine your own life for ways to live more lightly on God's earth.


The Rev Tom Harries was an Episcopal Priest serving St. Nicholas' Church, Richfield, MN, when he originally wrote this article for The Crier, the newsletter of St. Nicholas' Church in January 1998. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to the Rev Tom Harries or any MEESC member , or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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