Posted by: minnow | June 29, 2010

Doing Better

I started Julie Clawson’s book, Everyday Justice, toward the end of February.  I got momentarily distracted by Brian McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christianity.  Because a friend was starting a discussion on FB I thought I should at least read the book if I was going to chime in on his posts.  Anyway, I was mildly impressed with McLaren’s book.  Yet, most of it seemed like a dressed up version of what he already said in his other books.  McLaren’s book is easy to talk about, think about, and spout off about. It feels good to think of oneself as enlightened.  But, it is just as easy, for me, to set aside such writing and not actually let impact my life.  Afterall, I already rejected a Us vs Them mentality.

Everyday Justice  is another story altogether.  At least for me. 

I have been a fan of Clawson’s blog, One Hand Clapping, for as long as I have been blogging.  Most of what she writes challenges me to consider a subject from a different point of view or question ideas and attitudes I have always held.  Her book is equally challenging. 

Well researched, simply written, Everyday Justice  examines the impact  our daily choices have on the world.  From the chocolate we eat to the coffee we drink; from the clothes we wear to the things we throw away Everyday Justice  challenges the reader to do better.  Do better by the coffee bean farmers half way around the world who are trying to feed and educate their children.  Do better by the tomato harvesters in Florida who in 2007 were paid just over a penny per pound of tomatoes they picked.  Do better by the planet on which we live so it might sustain life for generations to come.

I have never been much of a gardener, bicycle rider, products label reader, health fanatic, or environmentalist.  At 50 plus I can count on one hand the number of gardens I have tended as an adult and none fed my family through the winter.  I can count on my other hand the number of times I rode my bike for any reason other than guilt ridden exercise.  Yet, I like imagining myself healthy and outdoors, growing my own food, and caring about the rest of the world as much as the people and environment around me. 

A while back I ask myself how I would like to live the second half of my life (You see I plan to live to be at least 100).  I quickly realized that if I stayed on the path I was currently on I would be luck to see 65 let a lone 100 and if I did see 100 I would probably be bed ridden, drooling, and suffering from heart disease and diabetes.  In other words, I was not caring for my physical well-being any better than I was caring for my emotional or spiritual well-being.  Something needed to change–either the facts: how I was actually living, or the fiction: how I envisioned myself to be living (someday).  The time had come to walk the talk or–shut up.

Spiritual, emotional, and physical health are tied together.  While certain steps can be taken in one area ahead of the other the whole cannot be healthy if one part is out of line (disturbed, hurting, or anemic).  As strange as it might sound, Clawson’s book brought that point home for me.  Who I was on the inside did not lined up with who I have been on the outside.  For years I ignored the inner person, threw her a crumb or two–a fantasy for “someday”–but for the most part let her voice fade into the back ground or become completely silent. 

Oddly enough my life is a kind of microcosm of the Church.  I let a few doctrines take control of my behavior.  Doing so caused the picture as a whole to get blurry.  I started letting duty and the path of least resistance influence my choices.  I got fat.  I got lazy.  Daily life was easier when I kept the peace, more difficult when I tried to ask questions or stand on a principle.  I got tired.  I got weak.  Going with the flow, letting other people think for me, doing what I was expected to do to the best of my ability–this behavior kept the peace.  At least the peace on the outside.  Meanwhile, my inner peace kept running into difficulty. 

My inner and outer world; my physical, mental, and spiritual life, all needed balance.  All needed health and freedom and respect.  The Church is one body.  The world and everything in it is His creation.  What we eat, for example, determines our health and reflects our beliefs.  One part (of my body, of the Church, of the earth) cannot be left to die without that death impacting the whole.  How we live influences others.  The weight of our choices is born by the whole.

PS. Another blogger says it better.  Check out Kathy Escobar’s latest at The Carnival in My Head.

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