Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Why? Why would I do such a thing? It is not as though I were living a life of quiet desperation. I was settled safely and comfortably in an idyllic suburb – raising children in award winning schools, pursuing rewarding careers teaching biblical theology and pastoring a faithful church. Why would I leave it all behind?
I’ve been told I am related to Oswald Spengler. It’s probably true. He looks just like my grandfather. Oswald Spengler wrote one of those classic books like Rise and Fall of the Third Reich or History of the Peloponnesian War. Spengler’s masterpiece was entitled, The Decline of the West. Though ponderous, I slogged through it. Spengler documented exhaustively and irrefutably that world history is the history of the rise and fall of empires. One of my takeaways from the book is the necessity to understand one’s moment in history and act accordingly. For instance, were I living in Poland on August 31, 1939, it would be best not to open a bakery.
I suppose I left it all behind because I was not living according to my moment in history. My moment in history is characterized, as are all moments in history, by a complex multitude of realities, but chief among them is Climate Change. I read Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth back in 2006 and have watched his grim predictions play forward. How am I to know if we are presently past the tipping point? I am not a scientist and am dubious of journalists. But experience demonstrates that things are getting increasingly worse. Would the safety and comfort of suburbia last? Are safety and comfort worthy goals in the first place? Not according to the Bible. Take a look at the book of Amos if you want to hear someone castigate “the complacent ones.” It may take time before things get dire. Hitler came to power in 1933. By 1935 the Nuremberg Laws were passed. That’s little time to understand your moment in history and act accordingly. But if things don’t get dire in my lifetime, I will have laid a foundation for my children.
And too, Creation waits with eager longing! Yes, the problems of the world are insurmountable. But you can still help what you can help. When China’s One Child Policy produced one of the worst human rights atrocities history has ever witnessed, I could not help the millions of lost girls. But I could help a handful. I can not reverse climate change, but I regenerate land so that it pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and fixes nitrogen in the soil; so that the livestock and wildlife on it thrive; so that there is biodiversity; and so that it produces fresh, nutritious food. The Foolish Virgins of Jesus’ parable waited until the last minute to prepare. Then it was too late.
It boiled down to taking the first step. When you take the first step, the process carries you ineluctably towards your goal. My first step was acquiring land.