Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tieing the Threads Together

Pirate Jimmy asks a provocative question below, which essentially requires me to justify my life's work. I can envision a series of posts to address the question, which is a good one, but I'll start by saying Yes. And No. It depends.

There, left myself plenty of room to take that any direction I want.

Since I don't quite know what corner of my answer to start with at this point, I'm going to pull this thread into the earlier thread and talk about the impact of the Bible on groceries and ethics. A British scholar named Daniel Miller has written several books and articles studying grocery shopping as a cultural phenomenon. One of his brilliant insights is the fact that he sees grocery shopping not as some mundane, amoral task, but as an act of objectifying our love for others. The shopper, in the vast majority of cases a woman shopping for members of her family, concretizes her abstract love for them with the purchasing decisions she makes. Given this interpretation of grocery shopping as love in action, so to speak, the Bible has a lot to say on the topic.

For example, the provisioner of a household demonstrates her love for her household by working for their benefit. Saving is a central concern of grocery shopping; the unspoken central imperative of the practice seems to be "Save money." The Bible is in part consistent with this understanding of love-as-saving. In contemporary Christian culture, it is referred to as "stewardship" and seen as a countercultural practice. It has its roots in the Wisdom tradition of Scripture (a cross-cultural tradition); for example, the Wise Woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 could be seen as an ideal shopper, exemplifying this practice of loving her household (and fearing the Lord!) by basically acting like a capitalist.

Rereading this post, I see I'm going to have to take a deep breath and go about this more slowly. Where I'm going with this is a presentation of some of the tensions that Scripture presents us as we think about how to shop for groceries in the fear of the Lord. But I'm descending into jargon at the moment, so I will withdraw for the moment and pick this up tomorrow.

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