We are near the end of our 17 day permaculture design certificate Institute here in the Ojai Valley. This PDC, led by Chris Grataski, has included a significant track of theological reflection and scripture study, facilitated by Sylvia Keesmaat and me (the three of us pictured above).
This morning the group of a dozen participants summarized seven principles/practices for reading the Bible with a permacultural sensibility, or what Kirsten Vander Giessen-Reitsma has dubbed “permaneutics”:
Pay attention to context, both of the text and of where we are reading from.
Practice thoughtful and protracted observation of the text before jumping to interpretation.
Respect each text as part of a larger story that is living and that we are invited to inhabit (not just use and exploit).
Look for earth-patterns and agrarian aspects of scripture that have been ignored or under-valued in traditional approaches; once we look for them, we find they are everywhere!
Focus on the real-world and actual geographic settings of biblical stories, which are inseparable from the meanings of the text (“re-placement”). Experiment with analogies between biblical landscapes and our own.
Be sensitive to the “invisible webs” and “sub-surface complexities” that run throughout and interrelate the ecological texture of scripture.
Understand that we are working on terrain that is disturbed and degraded–both that of we as readers (with our invasive preconceptions and ideologies) and that of scriptural texts (as the product of imperfect and conflicted communities of the past).
If we practice these approaches, and commit to returning repeatedly to our sacred stories to accept feedback and perspective–since they are older and wiser than we are–we can animate theology and practices of watershed discipleship that promote healing, regeneration and resiliency in our churches and in our world.
Way to go PDCers!