Our culture here in the United States has definite bipolar tendencies: On one hand we're encouraged to want--and to purchase--more, more, more. More food, more entertainment, more stuff. On the other hand, there's still a streak of 'deprivation equals virtue' in our collective psyche, which enterprising sorts have tapped by turning deprivation and discipline into products to buy--diet plans, gym memberships, storage containers to corral our stuff, organizers to sort our overflowing schedules, life coaching to help us figure out how to live a better game, a winning game.... Whew.
In the meantime we have neighbors near and far who lack food, water, shelter, love. Our shopping doesn't help them--but neither does our self-flagellation, since both keep us focused on ourselves and on our things. God's promises are far from stingy--"Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness," instructs Isaiah 55:2. But they're not a call to gluttony either (despite that bit about delighting in fatness). How do we find the right balance for our souls, our bodies, our sisters and brothers, and our world? What is 'enough'?
In this special issue, we explore some of the components of a sustainable, healthy, generous, just, and merciful life. How do we seek this for ourselves and others in the midst of consumerism and sprawl? What is the role of Sabbath in our call to follow Jesus? Do industrial processes, manufactured goods, and buildings need to be so often toxin-based, or could human creativity design a better way?
In all, we're humbly trying to find for ourselves what we wish for all of you: deeper knowledge, experience, and sharing of God's abundance in what can be a confusing, feast-or-famine world.