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A Crop of Justice (readings for August 19)

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grapesIsaiah tells his peers that God is “looking for a crop of justice” and a “harvest of righteousness.”

Somehow, we’ve come to think of justice in a punitive sense: making sure lawbreakers get punished. But I wonder if just-ness in Scripture is meant so negatively. For Isaiah’s language here, like that of Jesus, seems to be more directed to those who turn their backs on others. His message is not vindication for the religious, and certainly not “an eye for an eye,” but a call to abandon behaviors that victimize, and to go serve the poor instead. Jesus never argues for more religion, but rather for more compassion.

It’s a point that’s often missed today. A few examples:  Despite the fact that the Israeli army kills four times as many Palestinians as vice versa, many American Christians, seeing Israel in their religious literature, assume God is somehow on Israel’s side. And despite the fact that dozens of innocent death row inmates have been set free as a result of DNA evidence in the last few years, despite the fact that Texas is about to execute a man convicted of murder whom everyone agrees murdered no one, Texas’ death-row juggernaut has been unstoppable partly because of the support it gets from Christians—who’ve come to view justice as “making sure someone pays,” I guess. And despite the fact that our neighbors to the south struggle desperately to care for their little ones – partly because of our own NAFTA and corn subsidies – we’ve come to see justice as “making sure they pay” for infractions of the civil code, rather than making sure they have enough to eat! Feeding them would be “a crop of justice,” not punishing them!  How is Jesus’ example so far from our minds?

Small wonder that Jesus, in the reading below from Luke, warned that he’d come to bring disruption and confrontation. Defending the defenseless still draws the wrath of the religious.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Monte AsburyProper 15 (20); August 19, 2007
Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2,8-19; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

Isaiah 5
Looking for a Crop of Justice
1-2 I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love, a love ballad about his vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard.
He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds,
and planted the very best vines. Read the rest of this entry »

“Papa, I’m hungry”

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How US policy intensifies Haitian starvation

Saint Louis Meriska’s children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed father said forlornly, “They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. It’s humiliating and it makes you angry.” –

Thirty years ago, Haiti was an agricultural nation. It imported “almost no rice” and was an exporter of sugar. Today, almost all of Haiti’s rice is shipped in. So when imported rice prices soar—as they have recently—the poorest Haitians have little to eat. What happened? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm

The ethanol effect: When alt fuels go bad

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Iowa grows corn. Miles and miles and miles of it. We don’t eat it, of course—it’s not that kind. We feed it to cattle and hogs, and we send it by the trainload to processing plants that make it into that “high-fructose corn syrup” that’s in everything else we eat. Read the labels in your pantry.

And, this year especially (the angst of the times being as it is), we plant corn in every available corner in order to save the planet (and make pretty good money) by selling it to ethanol plants.

Trouble is, it’s a little like tobacco and Kentucky: government subsidies contribute to the growth of something that we’d probably be better off without. Check out MotherJones excellent explanation:

clipped from
EVERYTHING ABOUT ETHANOL IS GOOD, GOOD, GOOD,” crows Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, echoing the conventional wisdom that corn-based ethanol will help us kick the oil habit, line the pockets of farmers, and usher in a new era of guilt-free motoring. But despite the wishes of Iowans (and the candidates courting them) the “dot-corn bubble” is too good to be true.

Click the thumbnail below to see the larger image
The Ethanol Effect
  blog it

And it’s impact on soil conservation is not good.

Corn is a hot potato here in Iowa. Though not a lot of us are still farmers, our friends, our industry, and our economy are linked to corn in a big way. But in the long run, it’ll be a bust. We need another scheme for agriculture, and we need pioneers and politicians and professors who’ll help us get there.

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Written by Monte

April 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Environment, Iowa, Politics