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Posts Tagged ‘Being Consumed’

One example of how Christians are meeting this call [to sustain forms of economy, community, and culture that recognize the universality of the individual person] is Church Supported Agriculture (CSA), which creates a direct link between family farmers and local congregations. Rather than limit their economic activism to demanding that the state intervene in the market, local churches are creating alternative kinds of economic spaces in which they resist the abstractions of globalization by face-to-face encounters between producers and consumers. In the CSA model, family farmers — most of whom farm organically and practice environmentally sustainable methods — sell their produce directly through local congregations. Parishioners either buy individual products or buy a share of a farmer’s produce at the beginning of the season, thus helping share in the risks of farming. The church serves as a drop-off point for produce and a place for farmers and parishioners to meet. In this space, they avoid the middleman and they personalize the food. Food no longer comes from some anonymous distant place; rather, it comes from another particular human being, and the consumer enters into a relationship with that producer. In this encounter, the person is seen as another self and another Christ, the universal in the particular. (87)

William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed

Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan has started a community-supported agriculture program. (New York Times, Sep 20, 2009)

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The ownership of property is not about power, and the wide distribution of property is not about a greater equilibrium of power. Rather, property has an end, which is to serve the common good. The universal destination of all material goods is in God. As Aquinas says, we should regard property as a gift from God, as gift that is only valid if we use it for the benifit of others (ST II-II66.1ad2). Thus Aquinas sanctions private ownership only insofar as it is put to its proper end, which is the good of all: “Man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate then to others in their need (ST II-II.62.2). Absent such a view of the true end of property, freedom means being able to do whatever one wants with one’s property, and property can thus become nothing more than a means of power over others. (29)

What is most important is the direct embodiment of free economic practices. From a Christian point of view, the churches should take an active role in fostering economic practices that are consonant with the true ends of creation. This requires promoting economic practices that maintain close connections among capital, labor, and communities, so that real communal discernment of the good can take place. Those are spaces in which true freedom can flourish. (32)

William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed

prop·er·ty

n., something owned; a possession.

[Middle English, from Old French propriete, from Latin proprietas, ownership]

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Effetti del Buon Governo in Campagna or “The Effects of Good Government in the Country” (c. 1338-1340)

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