Permaculture and Christian Faith (Part 2)

What does permaculture and Christian faith have to do with one another? More than you think.

What do permaculture and Christian faith have to do with one another? More than you think.

(Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a two part series on Permaculture and Christian faith by Melody Adele Connally.)

I’ll just go ahead and launch right into the second half of David Holmgren‘s permaculture principals, with my commentary about applying them to a biblical worldview.

7. Design from Patterns to Details

This is basically the idea of having a broad view of what is already happening and what we are changing- ecologically. We can easily reapply this to our understanding of practically any field. For instance, to get the most out of study in the Bible, we need to have a broad context of God’s narrative about himself and his people. If we start at the word by word level, it is possible to produce some horrific heresies, but in the context of the Bible as a whole, words and verses become very important. In the same way, approaching an ecosystem from details up can be very damaging, as on the African savannas where dangerous predators were reduced for human safety, but now medium size scavengers are becoming prolific and also dangerous, without the checks of predation on their population.

8. Integrate Rather than Segregate

Relationships are the strength of a system. Remember, Holmgren is talking about an agriculture, on the most basic level, though the concepts apply to so many aspects of life. Companion gardening, where properties of one plant protect or nourish another, is an application of this idea. The opposite would be monoculture: the growing of one crop in massive stands, which requires a lot more insecticide to protect the crops, and more chemical fertilizer to nourish plants that are in direct competition with every other plant in the field. In society we see a trend toward intensive specialization as well: education, business, research, and industry are constantly seeking to sort people into more and more homogeneous groups. As Christians, we have the example of Jesus, mixing the high and low elements of society to create a unified family.

9. Use Small and Slow Solutions

Homgren: “Systems should be designed to perform functions at the smallest scale that is practical and energy-efficient for that function.” This is because large systems are dependent on a narrow range of resources, and when those resources collapse, many more people are more deeply damaged. For instance, Wall Street. Huge, all-encompassing plans are apparently antithetical to dependence on God, as we try to meet our own needs and desires. In Genesis 11, we see humans developing a massive system and God’s response is to “confound the language of all the earth,” essentially breaking the system down into more manageable units.

10. Use and Value Diversity

This one is popular with public middle schools and such. Again, this refers to the monoculture issue: disease, pests, resource competition, are all issues where uniformity is enforced. Visualize a mill town, or a mining town, after the mill shuts down or the mine runs out. Oversimplification is not healthy in agriculture, in economies, or in churches.

11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal

In nature, edges are specially productive areas where possibilities are amplified. Children understand this idea and gravitate toward the edge of sports fields or play areas, where unmanaged features enhance their imaginative play. We can intentionally juxtapose systems to get an additional set of resources. Householding brings a kind of edge benefit: it is the overlapping of two or more families that really stretches our resources and expands our abilities.

12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

As Rob Hopkins observes, “natural systems are constantly in flux, evolving and growing.” In a social setting: Christians, of all people, should have an eye toward the arc of history, that our position as individuals, groups, and societies is not stationary. For instance, many churches feel threatened and teach against “postmodernism” as a philosophy. A view of postmodernism as simply an era actually reveals a lot of opportunities for the church to minister to people who are vulnerable in new ways, but still in need of Christ. How can we take advantage of the changes ahead to accelerate the kingdom of heaven?

I encourage you to continue to look into permaculture principals, but I hope this overview is helpful- I will continue to explore applications to my life in future posts.

(Source: EveryPlenty – Thank you Melody!)