Thursday, August 15, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 3

This is a continuation of the "No more GMO church" series and builds on Part 1 and Part 2. If you've not read it yet, please do so the rest of this makes sense.

Friends... ask yourself.... what healthy living thing needs so much intervention and oversight to reproduce? Do you have the encourage most young people to desire to reproduce and offer coaching, teaching, education, programs, etc to get them to do so? Of course not! We have to bridle their enthusiasm for reproduction. True spiritual life - the life of Yeshua (Jesus) does not need intervention to reproduce. In fact, sadly, intervention stops the desire to reproduce as it over-complicates reproduction and makes it look like something that belongs to professionals. We would not likely tolerate it very well if we delegated all our reproduction responsibilities and desires to professionals. Why then do we tolerate such in our spiritual lives? This just should not be.

Does The Body of Christ need fellowship, support, meeting together, leadership, and relationships with one other? Absolutely. And friends - we've not stopped doing those things - in fact we do them more and more deeply than ever. It is our belief, experience, and conviction that those things naturally take place when the Body of Christ is healthy and Jesus is leading them. Further, we don't see most of the above things happening in any substantial measure in the institution - with the exception of leadership, and that unfortunately doesn't often take place as it should. 

The Church does not need rigid organization, control, heavy-handed governing, etc. Like gardening, it needs attention. It needs good soil, good water in ample quantity, fresh air, and regular weeding. As the old saying goes.. " the best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow". The same is true with our own gardens - both individually and corporately. The good gardner (John 15/16) has all wisdom and knows what to apply when deficiencies are found, when to prune and cut back, what to throw into the fire and how and when to harvest. Is this your experience within the institution?

Our like us, has your experience in the institutional system has been leaders that are gravitate towards extremes of passivity and disconnectedness from the sheep, or assertive and controlling, treating the sheep as human resources - more like CEO than a gardener. We don't see either in Jesus.

In our experience, the institutional seems to deeply resent and even despise the organic. Organic is twelve men who spent time with Christ were able to turn the world upside down. They didn't attend a new members class, they didn't read the latest fad books on the faith, or watch videos that would help them in their walk. The didn't require the approval of leadership, their passions were not made safe and acceptable to the institution. They were guerrilla warriors under a captain of the Lord of Hosts! Is this our experience today?

Center to the spiritual DNA of the disciples was this. They simply spent time with Messiah and followed him. The beauty of what has happened since is that it required absolutely nothing other than the presence of Christ. The same is still true today. The ONLY thing necessary to see the Kingdom expand is the King himself. He has given us all that we need.

The institution seems to really hate this idea - at least in practice. Rather, we've come to believe we need every sort of shiny thing in order to grow. Friends - if you plant GMO seed you can have the best gardening tools this world can offer - but you're still going to only get a single season crop at best. You won't get the rich, heirloom crops that are rich in flavor, nutritious, inviting in appearance, and most importantly have an innate ability to reproduce after their kind. Plant the seed of Jesus and watch it grow.

A few more things...
Let us conclude by acknowledging that yes, we are painting with a broad brush. We have encountered and know exceptions to what we write here. The fact that exceptions exist however doesn't invalidate our observations or statements. It's the grace of Yahweh that anything grows from the GMO institution and as mentioned, largely in part because there are those serving as the 'root stock' DNA for these hybrid crops.

We praise God that it does produces anything, but also want to see the Body of Christ experience the fullness of the organic, spirit-led life that is available only though being connected to the head of the Body - Jesus and following him as the sole head of His Bride and Body.

We're coming at this not as those who are under any impression that we are successfully living out these things. We're not judging any hearts of those in the system. We're not saying this with a "we're doing it right and others are wrong" attitude or disposition - rather an invitation to deeply consider if what you know and observe of this institution matches what you see of Jesus in Scripture. We're just desperate to see us become whom we believe Jesus would have us be and quite frankly believe the institution stands in the way of such.

We believe - at least at this time - that we can linger inside of "Monsanto" all day, all year, for the rest of our lives. We're don't expect we'll ever see the system suddenly decide to stop using GMO and start going organic, any more than we expect Monsanto to do so. Rather, we're hoping to invest our time and energies into pursuing the Great Gardener - loving Him and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We believe therein that we'll be where we ought to be.

Our aim isn't to convince you of these things - that's not our job. If this has caused you to become upset - don't park there. Get in touch with us, talk with us and let's continue onward in love.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our "No more GMO church" series and is a continuation of Part 1.

Last time, we elaborated on the modern agriculture practices that produce GMO crops and some of the reasons why they're used or desired. Now it's time to discuss the unfortunate reality of such practices and begin to talk about the parallels with institutional "church".

The achilles heel of GMO agriculture are many...

Firstly, the plants grown from GMO processes are often sterile, or at the very least, cannot reproduce their exact kind of plant. They do contain seeds, but those seeds cannot give a farmer the basis to plant the next crop. To grow a marketable crop the farmers must go back to the seed company for more and pay a cost for doing so. 

Secondly, when the wind blows, the GMO crops spread their pollen - which contains the unnatural DNA. This "frankencrop" DNA intermingles with the natural organic seeds and often corrupts the DNA, sometimes irreversibly. Sometimes seed companies intentionally place genetic material in their crop - sometimes called "suicide genes" to help protect their patent and create farmer dependencies. A lifetime of careful seed selecting by generations of farmers can be wiped out with a good windstorm when planted too close to the GMO. 

Furthermore, these plants are patented at the very level of their DNA. Yes, patented. If the DNA of a patented GMO crop shows up in another farmer's organic seeds, they can be and are sued for patent infringement. Oftentimes, they must destroy their own organic varieties that were naturally grown but corrupted with GMO DNA. The courts of our great land actually enforce such actions folks - I'm not makings this up! The GMO camp is enemy number one of the organic, natural, sustainable food movement. And for good reason! 

You likely have heard of "Monsanto" - one of the largest corporate owners of seed patents and interesting to note - the company that brought the world Saccharin (and likely many cancers with it). Farmers all over have serious grievances against Monsanto. Many believe they're single-handedly ruining the world's food supply. 

Regardless of the believed evil of Monsanto - my intent here is not to write about Monsanto, but to draw a parallel - one that may offend many - especially those who are part of the institutional church system.

In our view, the institutional church system is to The Body of Christ what Monsanto is to the organic and natural foods of the world. The parallels are many... many of them you can no doubt see just re-reading this post up to this point. There are too many to list here, and you may even have your own (share them in the comments if you like). Here's some of what we see, hence why we don't want to be a part...

The Institution church system doesn't support or allow things to grow organically and naturally. It feels it must tweak and control the very DNA of the crops to grow better, faster, bigger. It's appetite for these things is endless. The copious systems have one goal - "more bigger faster better". Sure, these are always framed as being "for the Kingdom",  and  "outreach", but in our opinion, as with GMO produce, their fruit might appear attractive and flavorful, but tastes quite bland when you bite into it and is nothing close to fresh organic produce. I'm sure that just as Monsanto may want to legitimately solve the world's hunger, so the institutional system likely has equally good intentions. We're not questioning intentions - only the outcome.

The institutional church system creates a dependence on itself rather than Jesus.  Like a seed company demanding purchase of new seeds every season, so the institution often creates a crop that must come back to itself for the resources to produce the next crop. Oftentimes, this is just as profit-driven as it is with the seed companies and is an anti-pattern to multiplication and exponential growth. It's similar to a one-child policy. If all you ever do is produce a replacement to yourself, the world has not really received any benefit. It's break a break-even scenario.

Most institutions cannot and do not reproduce. Just as most GMO seeds are totally sterile or cannot reproduce their own kind, so the crop of the institutional church system cannot or does not reproduce. Statistics witness to this as the amount of those professing faith in Christ continues to decline. Often many in the institution lose their natural ability to reproduce after their kind - if they ever have it to begin with.

The facts testify to this - at least in this country. "Christians" aren't reproducing more Christ followers - not even their own children are choosing to follow Christ - at least 70% or more of them aren't! So tell us... if even the children of those in this system by and large choose not to follow the Christ presented them. That leads me to our next point...

The institution goes about things backwards. Many mistake dividing as reproduction. It's not. That's no different than a farmer sub-dividing their fields into smaller fields. You still only get the same yield (perhaps less), but now have additional labor and expenses to farm the same land that was present before. That's a silly idea. Many churches start with the idea of a huge field, then we'll divide when it's big enough. Have you ever seen a farmer take that approach, or do they add to their land holdings as they have need?

The crop produced by the institution is unappetizing and unsatisfying.  Just as your average grocery-store tomato looks like a tomato and appears very appetizing, when it comes to eating it, it's quite bland and underwhelming. It was developed in a lab not for it's taste, but for it's ability to withstand traveling thousands of miles from field to fork and for it's profitability - not it's ability to satisfy taste buds. Companies know that if that's all you can afford, you'll buy it anyway.

The institution appears likewise - creating crops that are underwhelming. Can it really be that Jesus is really so unappealing, underwhelming, and inadequate, or just too hard to follow? If we're reproducing Him, how could people not find what the institution offers to be irresistible? How did people respond to Jesus when he walked among us? Crowd were so suffocating to him he often needed to retreat. People are hardly beating down the walls of most "churches" on any given weekend.

Maybe... just maybe... what is being presented is NOT the Jesus whom drew all but the religiously self-righteous to him, but a Christ created in the image of the institution?

The good news of Jesus Christ should produce streams of LIVING water in lives. It should quench thirst. It should have explosive consequences on the community and the world. While the institutional system does do good, ask yourself - is it having the affect Jesus said the good news would have? GMO crops feed people - sure. Buy they're nowhere near as satisfied or nourished as they are with organic crops.

The crop of the institution isn't sustainable.  In our experience, the institution produces a crop that doesn't stay alive beyond a season and/or doesn't thrive without massive amounts of cajoling and manipulation. The West consumes the most resources of the "church" globally yet produces the least crop of Christ followers. In case that sounds angry or bitter - we deeply love the people in the institution and are anything but angry or bitter at them. We don't believe the problem is the people, but the system itself!

The institutional crop requires intervention - the constant re-sewing of the seed. It's heavily dependent on process and organization. This alone should bear testimony to it's lack of life. If twelve people turned the world upside down in a relatively short period of time, why can't over 90 million apparent followers of Christ not be the headline stories of the nightly news every day and night? Is Jesus wrong, or have we created a Monsanto-like monster of an institution and called it something it's not - The Church?

The institutional crops effect the organic natural nearby. Just as pollen from GMO seeds effect nearby organic produce, so the institutional crops effect the natural organic life of those believers in close proximity (one of our chief reasons for getting away). The natural, organic life of Christ in a believer gets shaped into what serves the institution - often reducing it's natural ability to reproduce and bear fruit. Believers start with zeal and passion and love and a thirst for righteousness and are tamed to the whim and will of what serves the institution.

I believe this excerpt from the movie "Walk the Line" sums up this idea well...

[after record producer Sam Phillips stops Cash's band a couple of verses into their audition]
Sam Phillips: You know exactly what I'm telling you. We've already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just... like... how... you... sing it.
Johnny Cash: Well you didn't let us bring it home. 
Sam Phillips: Bring... bring it home? All right, let's bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing *one* song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it? Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' *you* felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear...
Oftentimes we're made to sing a song that's not ours because we've been told that's what the world needs, when in reality, the song that people want to hear, and NEED to hear, is our unique song - a life that is transformed by Christ.

And so I ask... is the institution encouraging you to sing "about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it out" or is it encouraging you to sing the one song you were meant to sing?

Stay tuned for Part 3

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No more GMO church - Part 1

We recently decided to take a break from "attending church services" with some of our local brethren. Even saying that sentence feels so wrong - as it should given it's so loaded with scriptural misunderstandings and errors. Better said, we've taken a break from being involved in what we're going to refer to as "GMO Church". More on that below...

Taking a break has caused some speculations, worries, grievances, curiosities and more. While we seek to address those in ways that unfold truth, but conveys love for The Body of Christ and no judgement for others is tough. Misunderstandings abound. Many will have hurt feelings simply because they cannot help but feel judged personally along with the system(s) they're involved with. We see the basis of relating as a person - Jesus - not a common meeting place, time, or event. Though we're willing and used to being misunderstood, we'd still like to know we've tried to offer some rationale to those who are sincerely interested in understanding our hearts and intentions.

And so, we're doing a series of blog posts for those interested to read. Below is the first part. It would be best to read these in order :)

Part 1
We're gardeners... not very good ones, but we enjoy gardening, or at least the hope of growing healthy foods that will sustain and nourish our family and others too. As we've gained experience and knowledge in gardening, we've come to understand some things about growing - especially in a sustainable, repeatable fashion - one that anyone could do and teach to others.

This means growing things in a way that requires little intervention in the growing process. We do see involvement in growing as necessary, however, the difference in labor between these two terms is substantial!

Consider this... most agriculture in western culture is heavily dependent on non-sustainable technology and practices, It frequently employes an intervention approach. If you just let most modern produce sit in the field, it would not grow beyond one season. It's so technically dependent on process, engineering and technology, that it doesn't stand much chance of ongoing life without intervention. Further, it often tends to endanger any natural, organic produce growing nearby. More on that in a sec.

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, bringing upon them a curse on the ground among other things, mankind has devoted substantial efforts towards overcoming that curse. One of the outcomes has been the ideas that if we tinker with the genetic make up of plants (and animals), we can grow more crops - better, faster, cheaper and with less effort. In our efforts to do so, we've realized certain small victories, but perhaps at great expense - especially in regards to the natural world and created order of things.

The process of tinkering with the genetic makeup of plants produces what are referred to "GMO(s)" or "Genetically Modified Organism(s)". Some GMO efforts are quite harmless and little more than speeding up the process of selecting the best attributes of one kind of cucumber and the best attributes of another cucumber and combining them to make an awesome cucumber. This has been done for millennia by gardeners hand-pollinating plants, keeping the resulting seeds and repeating the process to develop good quality seeds. However, many GMO efforts change the very DNA of a species often by inserting foreign elements into the DNA in order to take attributes from one unrelated species and combine them to produce outcomes not naturally possible. It would be like inserting mouse DNA into a cucumber because the mouse had some attribute that would be especially helpful to a cucumber.

The most famous examples are corn, wheat, and soy that are immune to pesticides such as "Glyphosate" (Roundup). Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide. It kills just about any kind of plant. Corporations have used GMO technology to produce plants that are immune to this herbicide. It would be equivalent to creating people who could resist poisons. That means a farmer can bypass the normal labor of farming, spray the entire crop of living plants with Glyphosate  and only the weeds will die. Another example is often "BT Corn" which is corn with "Bacillus Thuringiensis" baked-in to it so that it basically contains it's own pesticide. On the surface these might sound great to some. But are they?

This is almost the stuff of science fiction and produces "frankencrops". These crops initially appear to save time and labor - overcoming the curse God placed on the ground in Genesis - attractive to someone looking to bypass the labor of weeding, no doubt - but those ingesting these crops are eating pesticide-laden food as a result! Though this process may have started with good intentions, it has become the bane of many a farmer - even leading some to commit suicide!

Many will say "it's impossible to feed the world without these GMO crops and process!" Friends...that's bullshit... People suffer for lack of understanding, not because they lack herbicide-resistant crops. People have gotten their sustenance from growing things without GMO since time immemorial. They still can today. However, that's a topic for another blog post another time...

Needless to say, experienced GMO farmers might tell you that the price hasn't been worth it. Many feel stuck and are slaves to the intervention approach. They do produce crops, but they've also got a system that cannot move forward with ongoing intervention in increasing measure - they very opposite of sustainable.

Stay tuned for Part 2  where we'll discuss those consequences and begin to explain what that has to do with "church".