Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Land Beyond

Written by: on April 20, 2013

Our plane had just begun to approach the Island known as Hispaniola.  This large island located in the Caribbean is home to two very unique and distinct nations.  On the eastern side of the island is the nation of the Dominican Republic.  On the the western side is the country of Haiti.  On this particular trip our destination was Port Au Prince Haiti.  Our trip was to include playing soccer in remote villages, running Bible school for some local children and helping to landscape a newly built school for a village.  What we didn’t know would be included was becoming first hand observers on some of the most imbalanced consumption which has ever happened on the planet. As our plane flew over the border between the two island nations, I was startled by the contrast of the two sides.  On the Eastern side, The Dominican Republic was green, luscious and a fully functioning paradise. On the Western side, Haiti was brown, desolate and void of almost any vegetation.  Due to poor education, lack of infrastructure and poor conservation habits, what was once a tropical paradise is now an island dessert garbage heap.


This past week while reading The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society by Murray Jardine, I was was riveted to the theory that modern day consumerism is not sustainable.  Though there are three main theories suggesting this demise, first ecological, second “winner takes all” and third the logic of expressive individualism, I would suggest that each have similar tendencies and effects when one in each of these categories take more than they receive.  It looks a little different for the wealthy stock trader on Wall Street living in New York City as compared with the poor migrant worker tending to their trade in the fields of Haiti.  However, when either decide to take hold of the resources around them and use them in such a way as to not be restorative they have broken an old commandment known as stealing.  At the heart of stealing is to take something which is not yours.  Or, as I heard a valued mentor say to me one time, to take more than your share without giving in return.  The following are three areas where this value plays itself out in relation to consumerism and its potential imbalance.  

Sustainable Planet… In the book of Genesis, the human race was given the responsibility to care for and sustain God’s work in creation.  In a consumer, “winner takes all” culture, many decisions are made from a position which simply doesn’t care or take consideration for the broader ramifications or effects of such actions.  In the west I am reminded of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cutting corners to squeeze a little more financial profit out of an oil rig killed 11 men and left an environmental disaster of epic proportion. In an underdeveloped country such as Haiti, poor education, the burning of trees to produce coal, has left an entire country deforested and without natural resources.

Sustainable Living… Our lives are to be the very expression of our faith.  Yet so many of us today live lives of hurry.  Ultimately running a pace which leaves our bodies tired, marriages raged, families distant and friendships of convenience.  Consumption being the opposite of sustainability we steal from our bodies, marriages and friends.  To sustain, we need to pause, slow, be present, with God and others.  There may not need to be one more book written about “Changing the Church” if we simply slowed, lived sustainable lives, and stopped taking from God.  If we lived this way, I sense those who saw would want to know what brought such balance and peace.

Sustainable Spirituality… If you’re anything like me, i find it easier to take care of others before taking care of my own soul.  Often, I find myself depleted, and in need of soul care.  Yet, when I excessively serve I am stealing from my own soul!  Subtly over time, excessive giving without balanced Sabbath rest drain our very souls.  Once drained and out of the  very healthy rhythms our spirituality becomes unsustainable.  Silence, solitude, rest and play, all extremely significant in creating a sustainable spirituality for your own soul.  Remember, in 2013, no person, organization or religious institution will do this for you.  You must create it yourself.

A Society of Unlimited Potential.

We have the ability to restore or destroy. The planet, our bodies and our souls are all sustainable if we learn how to balance what we give and how much we take.  I am reminded of the these extremes in the Disney Pixar movie named WALL E.  WALL E is a robot created by humans for the purpose of cleaning up waste left by their hyper consumeristic society.  Here is a clip from Wall E where the extreme, if unchecked could happen to our planet, lives and souls.

The extremes between wealthy western consumerism and underdeveloped poor consumers seems drastic, yet the result is the same.  When we take more than we give, we are not being care takers the way God intended.

How are you caring for God’s Creation?

How are you caring for your physical body?

How are you caring for your soul?

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