What that Ram truck ad missed about farming

Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

February 5, 2013

I thought the same thing when I saw that ad, Rob, and turned to my wife and said, "Didn't God already create them on the sixth day?" The problem with this narrative is that it denigrates God's order of creation as being insufficient. It's another example of adding to what the Bible says because we think it doesn't say enough. It does. In this instance, creative license is no excuse.

February 6, 2013

"God gave us the joyful task of tending to the earth through cultivation and creativity"
I have to disagree with this statement. Originally Adam & Eve did not have to work the land. It was only after the fall that He cursed mankind with having to work by the sweat of their brow to eat and cloth themselves. Caretakers we are tho and good stewards we are to be. I have a friend who farms in the very high ag culture of ND, where I also live. And the discussion of GMO's and pesticides comes up often. Monsanto is killing us slowly and nice guys like this man say, he can't afford to worry about safety from using the products because his bottom line is making money. This man is a Christian too. He doesn't follow the latest on how bad Monsanto is hurting our world and the people in it and is in denial about it when it's pointed out to him. It's a hard situation.

Ken deBoer
February 6, 2013

I said some of the same things yesterday on farminarian.wordpress.com

Dodge did a great job with the peice but their goal was not really to elevate the place of the farmer as much as to create a warm fuzzy feeling which happened to include a Dodge Ram truck. Farming is some of the things that Harvey says, but it is much more.

I'm not sure I'm ready to be as pessimistic about the industry as Rob is though. There are still a lot of well meaning, environmental stewards operating farms in our food chain.

February 6, 2013

Thanks for your comment, Schi!

In that bit of the piece, I was referring to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_mandate">cultural mandate</a> issued in the first chapter of Genesis (1:28). When God told humankind to "be fruitful and multiply," God wasn't simply talking about having children; God was also telling us to make something of the world, to image the creator by being creative and making culture. From the beginning, God intended this to be an exciting and joyful experience for the whole of creation.

In chapter three, after our inability to live into the fullness God had hoped for, brokenness enters the picture. Work becomes a burden and unexpected problems arise (thorns and thistles). As we continue to see today, this brokenness pervades everything and our short-sighted solutions (think: pesticides) only introduce more problems. Instead of experiencing the joy of creative culture making, we are often frustrated and annoyed with the difficulty of surviving, working and living fully.

We get a fuller picture of God's cultural intentions when we look to the end of the biblical narrative. The culmination of the story in Revelation 21 is a city (one of our most remarkable cultural achievements) that incorporates the best of human cultural activity (Isaiah 60). Of course, this means that what we make of the world matters all the more.

February 9, 2013

Thanks, Rob, for this piece. I found myself wrestling with the ad. Working in campus ministry at Michigan State University (the first land-grant college with more agricultural programs than I ever even knew existed), I have met and encountered many God-honoring people whose academic work and research is dedicated to improving the efficiency of the agricultural system. For many, however, this is less about efficiency for its own sake and more about creating a global agricultural system capable of providing for the food needs of an increasing global population. Many researchers at places like MSU are working to improve the ecological and environmental impact of such farming systems. And, to top it off, many of the researchers I know also own their own farm animals, believing whole-heartedly that it is important for us to know more about the sources of our food.

My point is simply this: in Christian circles concerned with creation care, we sometimes overlook the complexity of the food source debates and paint agribusiness with one broad brush stroke. I've been blessed by the people here at Michigan State who have helped to challenge and expand that perspective, even if, at the end of the day, I don't always agree with them.

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