The Accidental Green Life

How Christian Piety Can Grace the Earth

In a chapter called "Waiting for Asparagus," for instance, she compares the act of eating non-seasonally with the act of not waiting until marriage for lovemaking. "We're raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires," she writes.

Why abstain from promiscuous eating habits, as Kingsolver cheekily calls them? The act of eating whatever we want, whenever we want generally means we're not eating the produce of a local economy. This can hurt small farmers and rural communities, but as Lauren Winner explains in Mudhouse Sabbath, it also means we are "shipping food from greenhouses around the world," which is "America's second-largest expenditure of oil."

One is suddenly reminded of Andy Crouch's discussion of fossil fuels in his article, "Rx for Excess" (Books and Culture, May/June 2007). Therein, Crouch shares that he's just said grace at the gas pump because he's purchased a resource that will be burned for good. Conversely, he quips, "I can reasonably expect that the food I eat will be replaced by a fresh crop next season." This assumes that he is eating locally, living with the limit of seasonal eating, because non-seasonal eating is virtually the same as a trip to the gas pump.


In solitude, we can discover a promise and joy that overflows into rejoicing and love for God's created world. In simplicity and fasting, we can train ourselves to live with a sense of gratitude and limits that naturally attends our rejoicing and love. All three practices lead us to submission, which is characterized by humility that looks not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others. Our example is Christ, says Paul, who relinquished his equality with God.

Foster describes the freedom of humble submission like this: "It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way …. In the discipline of submission we are released to drop the matter, to forget it. Frankly, most things in life are not nearly so important as we think they are." Then he reminds us that submission has seven arenas: submission to God, Scripture, family, neighbor, believing community, the broken and despised, and the world.

Sometimes it's difficult to discern how to proceed, when submission in one arena seems to require confrontation in another. But many times we see how beginning at the top, with God, allows us to submit in at least several sub-arenas. In matters of green life, this is often how it goes.

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