Family dinners become impossible when meetings, sports, clubs, hobbies, internet browsing, television, and church events are permitted to have priority. At the risk of sounding preachy, we feel this is a shame. Not simply because the replacement meals are typically unhealthy, prepackaged, preservative-loaded, microwaveable, specimens or fast food—but because quality time with family is lost. Throughout history and across cultures food has brought people together. Only in the last half a century has this begun to erode as our individual pursuits to do more and have more have displaced community and relationships. Pragmatically the tribe is not as necessary as it used to be for our basic survival. Additionally, we no longer feel the same culturally pressure telling us that we stand before a God who desires care for the neighbor, the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the foreigner.
The Scriptures show us that God is three—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and yet one. As many theologians have commented, the “three-ness” of God is what enables God to “be love” (1 John 4:8). When the Scriptures talk of humanity’s creation they distinctly argue that we are made “in the image of God” and therefore reflect in part God’s social nature. From our origins, from our essence, our need for community and communion is at the center.
So be old school. Be culturally conservative and liberal with your time. We challenge you. Carve out a sacred time, 6pm to 8pm every day, to gather together with family over a meal. Try using this time to share stories. Take turns reviewing the day’s struggles and joys, yesterday’s memories and tomorrow’s hopes, and practice listening. Sometimes invite neighbors into your home. Nourish you family, neighbors, and yourself, both bodily and emotionally. Think of what traditions you want your children to inherit.
Farming encompasses more than the land and the realm of ecology. It stretches into societal organization and national politics. Many more words could be said (and have been said elsewhere) on the politics of farming. The government and a handful of corporations have altered the face of farming, affecting not only the farmers but all who consume food. Every step of food’s journey—from labs, to seed, to fields overrun with synthetic chemicals and machinery traffic, to processing plants, to packaging, to shipping, to giant supermarkets, to consumer—involves people and social interactions. And therefore it is wise to pause and question what toll this process of food consumption has on us as a society at every step of its journey. Are community’s being strengthened, meaningful and decent paying jobs created, the environment in which we live in enhanced, consumers being served? Is this industrial approach prudent financially or is it wasteful? How is it being sustained? Is our food really cheap or are we paying for it in our taxes? And if so, why are taxes going to subsidize cheap corn and soybean products instead of a diversity of nutritious vegetables? The social ramifications of farming are near endless.