“I am the vine:” bearing fruit in a brutal world
Tomorrow’s gospel reading is from Jesus’ “I am the vine, you are the branches” lesson. It’s a beauty, about which we evangelicals can easily be moved to misty-eyed marveling.
But read along as Lawrence Moore begins his analysis at Disclosing New Worlds:
Vines, branches, fruit and pruning – and “abiding”. This is one of those “purple passages” from John’s gospel that most of us know well. It’s a time to expound parables of grafting, pruning, getting rid of excess foliage so the grapes are plentiful and fat, about feasting and celebration … and stuff about “abiding” that hovers constantly on the edge of twee and a bit precious.
Any tendency towards twee and precious should cause us to pause. This world is a brutal, death-dealing place. Most inhabitants of this planet live below the breadline. The scale of global poverty is staggering; the magnitude of starvation is terrifyingly obscene.
What makes the statistics significant is not simply the scale. The scale is tragic. Yet if it was inevitable and unpreventable, that is all we could call it. It is the fact that it is preventable that is significant. The world has never been globally richer, nor has it ever produced more food.
Global poverty is not an accident but a deliberate human creation. It is deliberate, not in the sense that we set out to cause starvation, but in that we build a global economy that gives those of us in the west a particular standard of living so that two thirds of the planet necessarily live in abject poverty.
And “we” – the people with the power and decision-making ability – reckon that is an acceptable cost. That is what makes the global statistics so obscene.
We in the West hold most of the world’s power. We in the West hold most of the world’s money. We could end starvation in a year. We choose to try to get more power and money instead.
We’re busy fussing over government power or gay marriage or how we’d rather give through our churches. And year after year, people die in droves. Who is responsible for this holocaust?
If I were God, I’m afraid I’d begin pruning. Maybe some other “branch,” if entrusted with the world’s riches and power, would get serious about bearing fruit.